ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The Morningstar ETF Conference has been running since 2010, bringing industry experts and financial advisors together to swap various tactics, strategies and portfolio insights on everything exchange traded funds, but it is all coming to an end, at least in some respects.

Morningstar is closing down its annual Morningstar ETF Conference, but the investment research provider will be merging the ETF conference aspect back into its mutual fund conference, the Morningstar Investment Conference, which will take place in June 11 to 13, 2018, reports Graham Thomas for RIABiz.

The decision was attributed to an evolution in the way advisors look at ETFs and mutual funds, active and passive investments.

“Advisors today take a holistic view when they serve clients; they don’t think about mutual funds and exchange-traded/passive funds separately,” Sarah Pellegrino, a Morningstar spokeswoman, told RIABiz. “To serve advisors in a way that makes the most sense for their business, we made the decision to incorporate passive investing into our main flagship event for advisors: the MIC.”

Thomas suggested that the ETF Conference may be shuttering down due to the lack of diversity or the dominance of big fund sponsors in the space, notably BlackRock and Vanguard, which have more-or-less steered the discussions. For instance, Richard Powers, Vanguard’s head of ETFs, believed that Vanguard will only leave scraps for market newcomers in the ETF market.

“Broadly speaking, new sponsors will have opportunity by adding new value, likely more niche products,” Powers told RIABiz. “First, there is a large population of incumbents, and second, there is little opportunity to compete at a profitable scale. If [new products] don’t differentiate in product design or exposures, some form of traditional active is how many firms look at ETF’s as ‘my only shot.'”

Related: Morningstar ETF Conference Highlighted Hot Button Topics

Vanguard Group is also pushing toward actively managed ETFs as the money manager recently received regulatory approval to offer ETF versions of its actively managed mutual funds.

All-in-all, the decision to merge the ETF Conference to MIC may not be interpreted as a bad thing. It just goes to show that the passive, index-based ETF space has grown so large and prominent among investors where it can stand on equal footing with something catered around the huge open-end, mutual fund industry.

For more information on ETF-related conferences, visit our ETF conferences category.