VettaFi Repeats as Best ETF Research Award Winner

Back-to-back years of celebration for VettaFi’s research! Last week, VettaFi received the Best U.S. ETF Research award from ETF Express, a dedicated ETF news outlet, at an awards reception in New York. This is the second consecutive research award for VettaFi.  

What’s impressive about this is our company was formed in mid-2022 and continues to expand. VettaFi initially brought four established ETF- and index-focused companies together: Alerian, ETF Database, ETF Trends, and S-Network Global Indexes. In 2023, VettaFi acquired the indexes from EQM Indexes and ROBO Global Indexes, as well as the LOGICLY ETF data platform. Our research capabilities expanded. 

VettaFi offers a comprehensive suite of products and services. These include ETF data, insights, indexing, and distribution, backed by a team of industry veterans and entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, and data scientists. To give you a sense of how we are greater than the sum of our parts, we asked VettaFi research colleagues to share more about their efforts. We often gather around the virtual water cooler to discuss a range of market and economic topics. We’re excited to see many of you at the Exchange conference in February 2024.  

Tell us about your area of focus for research and what makes VettaFi distinct. 

Todd Rosenbluth (Head of research): My research is focused on providing insights into the range of ETFs available. VettaFi asks advisors more than 500 questions each year about their views on the stock and bond market as well as assessing their risk tolerance. Recent content has focused on advisor preference for short-term, high-quality bonds and addressed their concerns about emerging markets. ETFs profiled included large ETFs like the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCSH) and up-and-coming ETFs like the KraneShares China Internet & Covered Call Strategy ETF (KLIP) I also love to profile new ETFs and offer a perspective on what makes them distinct in a growing but crowded market.    

Stacey Morris, CFA (Head of energy research): Most of my research is focused on energy infrastructure and MLPs, but I also cover the oil and gas sector more broadly and income investing. My research draws on more than a decade of energy experience. Whether I’m writing about oil prices, liquefied natural gas, company news, or the tax treatment for an MLP investment, my goal is to write research that simplifies complex issues for an advisor audience. 

Roxanna Islam, CFA, CAIA (Head of sector and industry research): I have a broad scope of research, but I mostly focus on sector, industry, and thematic research. I like to use my experience in sell-side research to also incorporate a bottom-up approach to explain ETF performance. Looking at factors as wide as macro trends to factors as narrow as how an individual company can have read-throughs for an ETF. I usually write about what is interesting in the market. Lately that has been around consumer-oriented ETFs and crypto ETFs.

Jane Edmondson (Head of thematic strategy): My focus is on supporting VettaFi’s suite of thematic indexes with research insights and content. I also work with VettaFi’s Index team to develop and license unique and innovative custom indexes for the ETF marketplace. Thematic investing is not just limited to technology themes. It captures and provides exposure to long-term secular disruption, spanning multiple sectors, industries, and asset classes. VettaFi’s index philosophy is that great investment ideas can often remain just that: an idea. But a well-constructed index can transform a great investment idea into a great investment. 

Zeno Mercer (senior research analyst): I specialize in the intersection of foundational technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, and healthcare, extending my focus to key growth drivers at multiple scales. Employing a first-principles approach, we categorize stocks into proprietary subsectors and perform in-depth company analyses to curate a portfolio of leading entities. Our strategic insights are further enriched by consultation with Ph.D .advisors. They include several Engelberger award recipients — deemed the Nobel Prize of Robotics 

Jennifer Nash (economic and market research analyst): My research primarily revolves around macroeconomic trends and their impact on financial markets. I analyze a wide range of economic indicators, including inflation, employment, GDP, consumer sentiment, housing, commerce, manufacturing, and income data. Additionally, I explore equity markets, treasury markets, global markets, and cryptocurrency markets. My economic and market research incorporates a handful of charts that help the reader visualize and understand the data.  

What should advisors know more about ETFs/index investing? 

Rosenbluth: Recent VettaFi survey data showed that cost is not king to many advisors. A good fit with their existing portfolio and methodology mattered a lot more. With some homework and support from strong research and data partners, such as VettaFi, advisors can find the right ETF for their client. Buying the cheapest ETF is not always the right answer.  

Morris: Exchange traded products (ETFs and ETNs) can be great options for getting diversified exposure to MLPs without a Schedule K-1. The Energy Infrastructure Channel and our primers have more information to help investors determine the right product for their needs.  

Islam: ETFs are a popular choice for investors because they are typically viewed as a simple approach to add a diversified allocation to a portfolio. But ETFs are wrappers. I think it’s important to have at least a high-level understanding of what’s inside an ETF. That doesn’t mean you need to know every holding. Consider at least a few key aspects before investing in an ETF. These include, for example, the methodology, weighting, sector allocation, market cap profile, and any large top holdings. 

Edmondson: Whether active or passive, using a basket of names, or just single stocks, the ETF wrapper remains the most tax-efficient, transparent, and convenient method of investing out there. The ETF industry has grown. So has the variety and complexity of products, making ETFs the focal point of innovation in the financial industry. 

Mercer: There is a healthy blend of rigorous research, a theme, and sticking to a strategy or plan. We’ve observed that certain subsectors may underperform one year but rebound significantly the next. Time horizons matter. Overactivity can lead to selling low and missing subsequent gains. An overly narrow focus may result in choosing the wrong investment, even if the overarching theme is sound. 

Nash: Economic indicators can be tied to ETFs. Advisors should know which indicators have historically correlated with the performance of an ETF. They should also know which indicators influence the sectors or industries represented in a chosen ETF. Ultimately, they should understand how to use economic indicators to assess risk and help clients make informed investment decisions. 

For more news, information, and analysis, visit VettaFi | ETF Trends.