What was the Key Takeaway from Inside ETFs? ETFs are Disruptive
Each year I return from the Inside ETFs Conference in Hollywood, Florida more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the ETF industry. But something felt different this year. I’m certain a big part of it was how excited I was to represent Global X for the first time. And part of it is probably that I am a bit more introspective about our industry.
I haven’t completely put my finger on that feeling yet, but this year’s gathering of all things ETFs will likely go down as one of my favorites. I’m coming back with some new perspectives on the industry and what the future may hold, several of which I discuss below.
ETFs are Disruptive
First let me say, I love this conference. There are always meals to be had with old friends. There are always great speakers, from headliners like tennis great Serena Williams and entertainer Quincy Jones this year, to regular industry folks discussing how ETFs have turned the financial services industry on its head. And, almost always, there is a great Florida respite from the Northeast winter!
In that sense, my biggest takeaway from the conference is not that this ETF is the most innovative, or that ETF provider has gained the most assets, or the discussions about cryptos (as you can imagine, more than a few sessions devolved into those).
No, my biggest takeaway is that ETFs are as disruptive to the financial services industry as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are (or will be) to the broader economy. A number of different factors, including the ease at which investors can gain exposure to different themes, have conspired to differentiate the ETF space from more traditional financial services. There’s also just a different vibe and attitude about ETFs, perhaps attributable to their construction and their evolution. And you can feel that at a conference like this.
ETFs Fostering Talent and Promoting Diversity
On Monday, I made my way to a breakfast held to honor the accomplishments of Women in ETFs (#WE), an organization I’m extremely proud to support. It’s inspiring to see this group in action and learn about their efforts to support the advancement of women in the industry.
Jenny Johnson, President & COO of Franklin Resources, offered that many women don’t seek careers in financial services because the industry is perceived as not being meaningful. She noted that one of the organization’s goals is to better articulate how investment professionals can affect people on a more human level, whether by helping people buy a house, save for college, or plan for retirement.
But it also occurred to me that this breakfast was exactly the type of thing the industry as a whole needs to do a better job of communicating—that the ETF community, and all of its disruptive investment vehicles, even breaks from traditional business practices by fostering talent and promoting diversity within its ranks.
Disruption through the Relationships we Develop
Disruption comes in many different forms, including even from our technical skills and industry acumen. As I mingled with business partners, clients, competitors, and friends—some of whom are all of those—I was reminded that disruption also comes from the relationships we develop.
ETFs are building blocks that we restock and reposition all the time for different purposes and outcomes. We do the same thing with people, being playful one moment, helpful in another, or serious and tougher in others.
Attending a conference like this is a lesson in how talented the industry has become. But the greater the competition, the greater the opportunity to challenge ourselves to be better together. And one way we can do that is distinguish what we do by building meaningful, multi-level relationships across the industry.
BOTZ: Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF seeks to invest in companies that potentially stand to benefit from increased adoption and utilization of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), including those involved with industrial robotics and automation, non-industrial robots, and autonomous vehicles.
FINX: Global X FinTech ETF seeks to invest in companies on the leading edge of the emerging financial technology sector, which encompasses a range of innovations helping to transform established industries like insurance, investing, fundraising, and third-party lending through unique mobile and digital solutions.