2015 ETF.com Awards Finalists Announced

January 19, 2016

2015 has been an amazing year for exchange-traded funds. From the rise of currency-hedged ETFs to the growth of smart beta, 2015 has been defined by massive inflows, exciting new launches, fee wars and the entry of major firms like Goldman Sachs and John Hancock.

In an effort to acknowledge the forces that support this growth, ETF.com annually recognizes the people, companies and products that are moving the industry forward and helping to create better outcomes for investors at its annual ETF.com Awards Dinner.

Winners in each category will be announced at the ETF.com Awards Dinner, taking place March 16, 2016, at Chelsea Piers, Pier 61, in New York. Winners will also be announced on the www.etf.com website on March 16, 2016, and in the April 2016 issue of ETF Report.

Methodology

ETF.com Award winners are selected in a three-part process designed to leverage the insights and opinions of leaders throughout the ETF industry.

Step 1

The awards process began with an open nominations process, which started Dec. 1 and closed Dec. 31. Interested parties were invited to submit nominations. Self-nominations were accepted.

Step 2

Following the open nominations process, the ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee—made up of senior leaders at ETF.com and senior members of the FactSet ETF team (whose data powers the ETF.com website)— voted to select up to five finalists in each category. Votes were cast on a majority basis, and ties broken, where possible, with head-to-head runoff votes. If ties could not be broken, more than five finalists were allowed. The nomination voting was completed on Jan. 11, 2016.

Members of the 2015 ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee:

Matt Hougan, CEO, ETF.com (Chair)

Paul Britt, Senior Analyst, FactSet

Dave Nadig, Director, ETFs, FactSet

Drew Voros, Editor-in-Chief, ETF.com

Step 3

Winners among these finalists will be selected by a majority vote of the ETF.com Awards Selection Committee, a group of independent ETF experts from throughout the ETF community. Committee members will recuse themselves from voting in any category in which they or their firms appear as finalists. Ties will be decided, where possible, with head-to-head runoff votes.

Members of the ETF.com Awards Selection Committee:

Kim Arthur, Founding Partner, Main Management

Benjamin Blaisdell, Managing Director & Investment Solutions Executive, US Trust

Rob Glownia, Fixed Income Analyst, RiverFront Investment Group

Phil Mackintosh, Managing Director, KCG

Tyler Mordy, President & Chief Investment Officer, Forstrong Global Asset Management

Jason Nicastro, Senior Research Analyst, LPL Financial

Jim Wiandt, Founder, ETF.com

Voting will be complete by Jan. 18, but results will be kept secret until they are announced at the ETF.com Awards Dinner.

For those interested in attending the ETF.com Awards dinner, please email us at [email protected].

AWARD CATEGORIES FOR 2015

Lifetime Achievement Award

Awarded annually to one living individual for outstanding long-term contributions to ETF investor outcomes, whether from a position of media, regulation, product provider, investor or other category. Previous winners are not eligible.

· Reggie Browne, Cantor Fitzgerald
Best known as “The Godfather of ETFs,” Reggie Browne—senior managing director and head of ETF trading at Cantor Fitzgerald—is a legend in the field. At Cantor and earlier at KCG, he has played a key role in the growth of ETFs by helping clients around the world understand and access ETF liquidity. More recently, Browne has helped spearhead efforts to shape the regulatory environment in a positive way for investors and the ETF industry at large.

· Jim Ross, State Street Global Advisors
Jim Ross is an executive vice president of State Street Global Advisors, global head of SSgA’s SPDRs Exchange Traded Funds business and head of Intermediary Distribution for SSgA in the U.S. He was a key player on the team that launched the first U.S.-listed ETF, the iconic SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), and has played a pivotal role in shaping the industry for more than two decades.

· Jonathan Steinberg, WisdomTree
As founder, CEO and president of WisdomTree, Jonathan Steinberg has played a critical role in driving the ETF forward. WisdomTree is widely credited with being one of the most innovative ETF companies on the market, pioneering many concepts including dividend-focused investing, currency-hedged exposure and more.

· Matthew Tucker, BlackRock’s iShares
Matthew Tucker, head of iShares Americas Fixed Income Strategy, is widely credited with fostering the growth of fixed-income ETFs around the world. A passionate proponent of the ETF structure, he’s well-known for his ability to easily explain complex topics in the fixed-income space, and for answering critics of fixed-income ETFs with detailed facts and convincing research.

· Mark Wiedman, BlackRock’s iShares

As Global Head of the iShares business, Mark Wiedman oversees the world’s largest ETF company and the fastest-growing ETF company by assets in 2015. He is widely credited for helping shape the launch of iShares’ low-cost “Core” ETF offering, and for pushing iShares to innovate in major market categories including fixed-income ETFs and smart beta.

Best ETF

Awarded to the ETF that has done the most to improve investor opportunities and outcomes in 2015, by providing access to interesting areas of the market, lowering costs, delivering new exposures or otherwise creating better results for investors. There is no requirement on when this fund was launched for this award.

· Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares (ASHR)
The first U.S.-listed ETF to access the China A-Share market directly, ASHR opened up a critical asset class to investors during a very interesting time for that market.

· Deutsche X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity (DBEF)
The third-most-popular ETF by net flows, DBEF pulled in more than $12 billion from investors eager to access international equity markets while mitigating the impact of a rising dollar. Of note, the fund outperformed unhedged exposure to MSCI EAFE significantly for the year.

· iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market (ITOT)
iShares made news in 2015 when it cut the expense ratio on ITOT to just 0.03%, making it the cheapest equity ETF on the market. The fund enjoyed more than $1 billion in inflows for the year.

· Vanguard S&P 500 (VOO)
The most popular ETF of 2015, VOO attracted a staggering $12.9 billion in net inflows. The fund offers the cheapest exposure to the S&P 500 in the ETF space, charging fees of just 0.05%.

· WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity (HEDJ)
HEDJ was one of the hottest trades of 2015, attracting almost $12.6 billion in net new inflows. HEDJ combines currency hedging and an export tilt designed to help investors capitalize on a weaker euro.

Best New ETF

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible.

· Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity (GSLC)
Goldman Sachs shocked the world in September 2015 when it launched GSLC. Why? The fund—combining exposure to four different factors in a single ETF—debuted with an expense ratio of just 0.09%, making it by far the cheapest “smart beta” ETF on the market.

· iShares Exponential Technologies (XT)
A unique partnership between Edelman Financial and iShares, XT represents a new take on technology investing, focusing on companies both developing and using technology to fundamentally change the way things work. Holding everything from biotech to Netflix, it’s a unique play on the economy of tomorrow.

· John Hancock Multifactor Large Cap (JHML)
JHML is the flagship ETF in a new suite of low-cost ETFs developed by John Hancock in partnership with Dimensional Fund Advisors. The multifactor methodology—emphasizing value as well as profit factors—will be familiar to fans of DFA, which has traditionally only made funds available to advisors operating inside the DFA program.

· Pacer Trendpilot 750 (PTLC)
There is nothing revolutionary about PTLC’s methodology. It provides broad-based exposure to the U.S. equity market, and rotates into cash when the going gets tough. But packaging that strategy into an ETF both improves the tax efficiency and enhances the discipline. Investors have rewarded it with more than $280 million in assets.

· SPDR DoubleLine Total Return Tactical (TOTL)
The fastest-growing new ETF to launch in 2015, TOTL delivers bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach’s active management acumen in an easy-to-buy ETF wrapper. While it’s been a difficult market for bonds in general, TOTL has managed to outperform the market significantly since launch.

Most Innovative New ETF

Awarded to the most groundbreaking and disruptive ETF launched in 2015. This is an ETF that is pushing the envelope in terms of what kinds of exposure can be packaged into an ETF.

· FlexShares Credit-Scored U.S. Long Corporate Bond (LKOR)
The financial crisis of 2008 proved that the credit ratings offered by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch are significantly flawed. LKOR solves that problem, offering broad-based exposure to the U.S. corporate bond market while relying on Northern Trust’s proprietary credit ratings system to select the best bonds. With an expense ratio of just 0.22%, what’s not to like?

· IQ 50 Percent Hedged FTSE International (HFXI)
It’s incredibly difficult to predict the direction of currency movements. And while unhedged exposure leaves you vulnerable to a rising dollar, the oh-so-hot currency hedged ETFs leave you equally exposed to a falling greenback. HFXI solves for that by offering a 50/50 split; perfect for those with no opinion on where currencies are heading.

· iShares Exponential Technology ETF (XT)
One of the most popular ETF to launch in 2015, XT is innovative in two ways. First, it was developed by iShares in partnership with Edelman Financial, which helped ensure a successful launch. Second, it is one of the only tech funds to emphasize both the developers and users of technology. And hey – it’s focused on the most innovative part of the economy.

· Pacer Autopilot Hedged European (PAEU)
PAEU tracks an index of large- and midcap eurozone equities selected and weighted by market cap, and toggles in or out of a currency hedge on a monthly basis based on EUR/USD momentum. It was the first ETF to offer a dynamic currency hedge.

· ProShares S&P 500 Ex-Energy (SPXE)
In each market correction, one industry leads the way down. That was true of the “tech bubble” of 2000 and the “financial crisis” of 2008. For those concerned the oil glut will keep energy stocks down, SPXE offers a solution, giving broad-based exposure to U.S. equities without exposure to the dogged energy sector.

Best New U.S. Equity ETF

Awarded to the most important U.S. equity ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as a U.S. equity ETF to qualify.

· ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (SBIO)
Biotech investors know that the biotech industry is really three industries in one: large, established firms with billions in revenue; startups with nothing but a dream; and midsize firms looking to get their first drugs through the FDA. SBIO focuses on the last group, highlighting midcap companies with drugs in Phase II-III trials, aiming to catch the next big idea before it becomes big.

· Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (GSLC)
Goldman Sachs shocked the world in September 2015 when it launched GSLC. The fund—combining exposure to four different factors in a single ETF—debuted with an expense ratio of just 0.09%, making it by far the cheapest “smart beta” ETF on the market.

· John Hancock Multifactor Large Cap (JHML)
JHML is the flagship ETF in a new suite of low-cost ETFs developed by John Hancock in partnership with Dimensional Fund Advisors. The multifactor methodology—emphasizing value as well as profit factors—will be familiar to fans of DFA, which previously only made funds available to advisors operating inside the DFA program.

· PowerShares S&P 500 ex-Rate Sensitive Low Volatility (XRLV)
As investors brace for rising rates, XRLV offers a unique solution: The fund holds the stocks in the S&P 500 while removing the 100 names that tend to fare the worst when rates rise.

· SPDR S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free (SPYX)
With concerns rising about global warming, SPYX offers investors the unique opportunity to gain broad-based exposure to the S&P 500 while avoiding firms owning fossil fuel reserves—coal, oil and natural gas. It’s more targeted exclusion than avoiding “energy” writ large.

Best New International/Global Equity ETF

Awarded to the most important international or global equity ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as an equity ETF, but not a U.S.-focused equity ETF, to qualify.

· Direxion Daily CSI 300 China A Share Bear 1X Shares (CHAD)
It’s hard to find a China ETF that’s performed well, but CHAD offers one exposure. Exquisitely timed, CHAD hit the market in June, just as China’s A-share market started to crumble, and gave investors a way to profit from trouble in the Far East.

· EGShares EM Core ex-China (XCEM)
China’s equity markets have been a disaster recently. XCEM offers investors the ability to sidestep China while still holding broad-based emerging market exposure. An “Ex-China” EM fund also solves the problem of which China investors want to hold: A-shares or the H-shares owned by most broad-based funds. A portfolio holding XCEM and ASHR, anyone?

· Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Emerging Markets Equity (GEM)
GEM offers broad-based exposure to emerging markets viewed through the lens of four factors: book value; sales and cash flow; profits; and volatility. The resulting portfolio can replace core EM exposure with a portfolio tilted toward value stocks.

· iShares Exponential Technologies ETF (XT)
A unique partnership between Edelman Financial and iShares, XT represents a new take on technology investing, focusing on companies both developing and using technology to fundamentally change the way things work. Holding everything from biotech to Netflix, it’s a unique play on the economy of tomorrow.

· WisdomTree Europe Hedged SmallCap Equity (EUSC)
If investors want exposure to hedged European equities, then they will want exposure to hedged European small-caps, right? That’s the premise behind EUSC, which launched in March and has attracted more than $235 million in assets.

Best New U.S. Fixed-Income ETF

Awarded to the most important fixed-income ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as a U.S. fixed-income ETF to qualify.

· FlexShares Credit-Scored U.S. Long Corporate Bond (LKOR)
The financial crisis of 2008 proved that the credit ratings offered by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch are significantly flawed. LKOR solves that problem, offering broad-based exposure to the U.S. corporate bond market while relying on Northern Trust’s proprietary credit ratings system to enhance the best bonds. With an expense ratio of just 0.22%, what’s not to like?

· iShares U.S. Fixed Income Balanced Risk (INC)
One of the first attempts to smart beta-ize fixed income, INC takes broad-based bond exposure and tweaks it to ensure the resulting portfolio has equal exposure to credit spreads and duration risk. As FactSet explains: “In theory, by having equal exposure to both factors, INC should perform fairly well in most interest rate and credit spread scenarios except when both rates rise and spreads widen.”

· iShares Short Maturity Municipal Bond (MEAR)
MEAR offers a unique solution for investors looking for a cash management strategy. The fund holds a portfolio of muni bonds with maturities of three years or less, packaging it with a low expense ratio of 0.25%. Where else can you get tax-advantaged yield over 1% with limited duration risk?

· Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond (VTEB)
Muni bond ETFs had been exempt—pun intended—from the vicious fee wars taking place elsewhere in the ETF market. But VTEB changes that, offering broad-based exposure to the muni space with a fee of just 0.12%. With yields low, that low fee really matters.

· WisdomTree Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Enhanced Yield Fund (AGGY)
Finding yield in today’s market is challenging, and AGGY offers a unique solution. The fund offers broad-based exposure to investment-grade bonds but tilts the portfolio by weighting components by yield-to-worst. The result is a sensible approach to creating an enhanced-yield portfolio.

Best New International/Global Fixed-Income ETF

Awarded to the most important international or global fixed-income ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as a fixed-income ETF, but not a U.S.-focused fixed-income ETF, to qualify.

· Deutsche X-trackers Emerging Markets Bond - Interest Rate Hedged (EMIH)
EMIH is the first interest-rate-hedged ETF that attempts to juice overall yields by focusing on the emerging market space. The fund targets U.S.-dollar-denominated bonds in the emerging market space and then shorts Treasury futures to minimize duration risk.

· iShares Core International Aggregate Bond (IAGG)
IAGG holds a diversified portfolio of global, non-U.S.-dollar-denominated bonds, and then hedges out the exposure to the U.S. dollar. The fund is quite similar to Vanguard’s hugely popular BNDX, helping to create competition and other opportunities in the fast-growing international bond market.

· SPDR DoubleLine Total Return Tactical (TOTL)
The fastest-growing new ETF to launch in 2015, TOTL delivers bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach’s active management acumen in an easy-to-buy ETF wrapper. While it’s been a difficult market for bonds in general, TOTL has managed to outperform the market significantly since launch.

· Virtus Newfleet Multi-Sector Unconstrained Bond (NFLT)
This actively managed bond fund can go just about anywhere, investing in domestic, international and emerging market bonds, USD- or non-USD-denominated, investment grade or high yield and in any sector. If you believe in active management in the bond space, this is a good test case.

· WisdomTree Western Asset Unconstrained Bond (UBND)
Western Asset Management is one of the marquee names in the actively managed bond space, and this fund unleashes its expertise on the ETF market. The go-anywhere fund can hold almost anything, including short positions, and gives the manager latitude to prove its chops.

Best New Commodity ETF

Awarded to the most important commodity ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as a commodity ETF to qualify.

· WisdomTree Coal (TONS)
TONS holds equal amounts of three different futures contracts on Rotterdam coal, one of the largest coal terminals in Europe. The fund is pricey, with an expense ratio over 1%, but it is the only coal futures ETF available. If you’re a bull on old-school energy, this may be the ETF for you.

Best New Currency ETF

Awarded to the most important currency ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as a currency ETF to qualify.

· No nominations

Best New Alternatives ETF

Awarded to the most important alternatives ETF launched in 2015.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as an alternatives ETF to qualify.

· ALPS Enhanced Put Write Strategy (PUTX)
The actively managed ALPS Enhanced Put Write Strategy ETF writes put options on the S&P 500 with the aim of earning income primarily from option premiums. The fund kicks off very high yields, although whether than can translate into long-term positive total returns remains the big question.

· Highland HFR Event-Driven ETF (DRVN)
DRVN tracks the holdings of hedge funds that employ event-driven strategies, including management changes, spin-offs, mergers and more. The fund differs from competing products like QED in that it aims to hold the same securities these hedge funds do, rather than using replication match in an attempt to match the index.

· Hull Tactical (HTUS)
The actively managed Hull Tactical US ETF aims for capital appreciation—regardless of market cycle—using long, short and leveraged positions in the S&P 500, along with cash. The fund rotates based on the quant models of its manager, HTAA, ranging aggressively from 2X to -1X exposure based on what’s happening in the market.

· QuantShares Hedged Dividend Income (DIVA)
If you believe dividends lead to better total returns, DIVA is the fund for you. It looks at the 1,000 largest U.S.-listed companies by market cap and goes 100% long those with the highest yields, and 50% short those with the lowest.

· WisdomTree Dynamic Long/Short U.S. Equity (DYLS)
DYLS takes a 100% long exposure to the U.S. market and pairs it with a 0%-100% short exposure depending on what’s happening in the market. The baskets are chosen based on growth as well as value factors, and stocks are weighted by the inverse of recent volatility.

Best New Asset Allocation ETF

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2015 that combines exposure to multiple asset classes.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified by FactSet as an asset allocation ETF to qualify.

· Credit Suisse X-Links Multi-Asset High Income ETN (MLTI)
MLTI tracks an index of dividend-paying BDCs, REITs, U.S.-listed equity, international equity, high-yield bonds, emerging market bonds, preferred stock and convertible bonds. Components are chosen by yield and weighted by liquidity. With its emphasis on nontraditional assets, it should offer unique diversification against a traditional stock/bond portfolio.

· IQ Leaders GTAA Tracker (QGTA)
QGTA aims to deliver the returns of the best mutual funds that focus on global tactical asset allocation in an ETF wrapper. The fund emulates the returns of those funds by buying ETFs. As FactSet writes: “Why not just buy the mutual funds? The ETF wrapper offers a tax-efficient, rules-based, diversified solution at a reasonable fee.”

· Master Income (HIPS)
The Master Income ETF tracks an index of assets that tend to produce high income and pass through that income without being taxed at the constituent level. These include REITs, MLPs, BDCs and debt-based closed-end funds. By focusing on pass-through securities, the fund avoids the issue of double-taxation associated with stock dividends.

· Principal EDGE Active Income (YLD)
This actively managed ETF seeks to delivers high current income by exposure to a variety of securities, including stocks, bonds, MBSs, preferred, REITs and MLPs. The manager has discretion to rotate among these categories based on market conditions.

· Tuttle Tactical Management U.S. Core (TUTT)
TUTT looks at four different momentum measures to determine how to rotate its portfolio among various takes on the U.S. equity markets, cash and bonds. A fund of funds, TUTT uses other ETFs to express these views, and positions itself as an alternative core exposure for investors.

Best New Smart-Beta/Factor ETF

Awarded to the most important new ETF launched in 2015, regardless of asset class, that uses a quantitative, research-driven approach to attempt to deliver superior long-term risk-adjusted returns.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize an ETF that opens new areas of the market, lowers costs, drives risk-adjusted performance or provides innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Jan. 1, 2015, are eligible. The ETF must be classified as a smart-beta strategy by FactSet to qualify. (Please note: Despite the FactSet categorization, currency-hedged exposures do not qualify.)

· Cambria Value and Momentum (VAMO)
VAMO is an actively managed portfolio of large, mid and small-cap stocks that have good value characteristics but also show recent positive momentum. The goal is to capture the value premium but weed out value traps. The fund can also hedge up to 100% of its portfolio if it thinks the market is overvalued.

· Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity (GSLC)
Goldman Sachs shocked the world in September 2015 when it launched GSLC. The fund—combining exposure to four different factors in a single ETF—debuted with an expense ratio of just 0.09%, making it by far the cheapest “smart beta” ETF on the market.

· iShares FactorSelect MSCI USA (LRGF)
LRGF tracks an index of large- and midcap U.S. equities, selected and weighted to increase exposure to four different factors: value; momentum; size; and quality. It is constrained so that the portfolio maintains similar overall characteristics as the broad-based U.S. market, optimizing exposure to those four factors to keep expected risk in line with the overall market.

· John Hancock Multifactor Large Cap (JHML)
JHML is the flagship ETF in a new suite of low-cost ETFs developed by John Hancock in partnership with Dimensional Fund Advisors. The multifactor methodology—emphasizing value as well as profit factors—will be familiar to fans of DFA, which previously only made funds available to advisors operating inside the DFA program.

· Lattice Developed Markets (ex-US) Strategy (RODM)
RODM tracks an index that selects companies within developed markets outside of the U.S. based on valuation, momentum, quality and other factors. The fund places a great emphasis on precisely defining what risk truly is in today’s markets, and taking steps to mitigate those risks through better fund construction.

Best ETF Issuer

Awarded to the ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, asset gathering, investor support and innovation in 2015.

· BlackRock’s iShares
The largest ETF issuer in the world, BlackRock’s iShares further cemented its status by having a great 2015. The fund led the market in net inflows, gathering more than $100 billion in net new assets in the U.S., while pushing the innovative edge of the spectrum by launching 45 new funds, including the most expansive currency hedge suite and significant smart-beta complexes in both fixed income and equities.

· Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab’s ETF lineup is as plain vanilla as it comes, with a broad-based portfolio of low-cost index funds. But the company’s ability to innovate in the distribution of ETFs is driving massive results and significantly shifting the landscape. Its commission-free offerings, robo-advisor efforts and OneSource program are all game changers, and helped the company pull in almost $14 billion in net new money to Schwab ETFs in 2015.

· Deutsche Asset Management
Deutsche Asset Management was the fastest-growing ETF issuer on a percentage basis in 2015, tacking on 400%+ AUM growth on an already-sizable base. The firm pulled in more than $16 billion in net new assets, and broke strongly into the ranks of the top 10 issuers. With innovative products in currency hedging, China exposure and bonds, it pushed the envelope in terms of what was available to investors.

· State Street Global Advisors
SSgA business can be overshadowed by the S&P 500 SPY—the $182 billion behemoth that is the most liquid security in the world. But look past the old-guard product and you’ll find a company that’s innovative aggressively, bringing five of the 10 fastest-growing new ETFs to market in 2015, including the No. 1 fund: TOTL.

· Vanguard
Now the second-largest ETF firm by assets, Vanguard is a juggernaut. The firm brought in more than $75 billion in net new money in 2015, and experienced positive flows in more than 90% of its ETFs. It also launched some significant new products, including by far the lowest-cost muni bond ETF to hit the market.

Most Innovative ETF Issuer

Awarded to the ETF provider that launched the most innovative and groundbreaking group of ETFs in 2015.

· BioShares
BioShares burst onto the scene in 2015 from the group LifeSci Index Partners LLC, a provider of index-based health care products. Its experience in the market is evident. The company’s two funds—BBP and BBC—divide the biotech market into companies with products and revenues, and companies with products in clinical trials, solving a major issue with existing biotech indexes. The fund complements this with one of the best websites in the business.

· BlackRock’s iShares
BlackRock’s iShares is a giant in the ETF space, leading the market in total assets. But the big company manages to be nimble as well, having launched 45 new funds in 2015, including the most expansive currency-hedge suite on the market, as well as significant smart-beta complexes in both fixed income and equities.

· ETF Managers Group
ETF Managers Group is innovative in two different ways. First, the firm is part of a wave of providers making it easier for innovative subadvisors to enter the market. Second, its product lineup is packed with interesting new funds. In 2015 alone, it brought out funds designed to: deal with rising rates; access the mobile payments space; target Israeli technology; access big data companies; invest in Latin American real estate; and gain exposure to the growing restaurants market.

· Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs entered the ETF market with a bang in 2015, launching a full suite of smart-beta ETFs using a multi-factor approach to tackle the market. While the funds are fairly innovative in and of themselves, they were nominated in large part for their pricing structure, headlined by the 9 bps fee for their GSLC product. Bringing the price war to smart beta? That’s innovation you can put in the bank.

· State Street Global Advisors

SSgA business can be overshadowed by the S&P 500 SPY—the $182 billion behemoth that is the most liquid security in the world. But look past the old-guard product and you’ll find a company that’s innovative aggressively, bringing five of the 10 fastest-growing new ETFs to market in 2015, including the No. 1 fund: TOTL.

Best New ETF Issuer

Awarded to the new ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, investor support and innovation. Issuers must have launched their first ETF in 2015. ETF.com considers “issuer” to mean the “brand” of the ETF, as classified by FactSet.

· BioShares
BioShares burst onto the scene in 2015 from the group LifeSci Index Partners LLC, a provider of index-based health care products. Its experience in the market is evident. The company’s two funds—BBP and BBC—divide the biotech market into companies with products and revenues, and companies with products in clinical trials, solving a major issue with existing biotech indexes. The fund complements this with one of the best websites in the business.

· John Hancock
John Hancock’s high-profile entry into the ETF market is notable for its partnership with Dimensional Fund Advisors, which powers the methodology behind the John Hancock ETFs. The multifactor methodology, emphasizing value as well as profit factors, make DFA-style exposures available to all investors for the first time; traditionally, DFA funds were only available to advisors operating inside the DFA program.

· Lattice Strategies
Born out of a family office, and with history as a subadvisor in the ETF space, Lattice came to market with a handful of ETFs offering risk-adjusted exposure to various corners of the global equity market. The funds’ intentions are perhaps best expressed in Lattice’s emerging market ETF, ROAM, which offers broad-based exposure to emerging markets without overweighting the biggest countries and sectors.

· Legg Mason
Legg Mason is aiming to make its name in the ETF space by offering broad-based exposure with a top-down overlay focused on risk diversification. The firm’s core ETFs examine the intercorrelations between different sectors, and try to match exposures in things that zig with those that zag.

· Pacer Financial
Pacer Financial’s “TrendPilot” ETFs take a well-trod approach to the market—rotating in and out of the markets based on momentum—and improve it by packaging it into a single, tax-efficient ETF wrapper.

Best Index Provider

Awarded to the index provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through index introductions, research, advisor support and more.

· FTSE Russell
2015 was a major year for FTSE Russell. After buying the Russell indexes in 2014, they moved into 2015 with an aggressive mandate to compete heavily in the U.S. and established a strong position in the fast-growing smart-beta space.

· MSCI
MSCI is a globally dominant index provider, and has been one of the biggest players in the ETF market since its inception. In 2015, the firm took a major step forward in its interaction with the financial advisor market, revamping its website and significantly enhancing its research output in the factor-investing world.

· Reality Shares
Reality Shares launched a new ETF series focused on the dividend space at the tail end of 2015. But it earned a nomination in this space primarily for its forward-thinking index website at www.realitysharesadvisors.com.

· Self-Indexing
Do you need an index provider at all? Many investors increasingly prioritize the ETF brand over the index provider brand, and ETF issuers are considering hosting their own indexes in a bid to save on costs. If this category wins, we don’t know who will collect the award, but maybe that’s the point.

· Solactive
Solactive has disrupted the custom index by offering issuers high-quality indexes at a fraction of the cost of the more established firms. The group has won an increasing share of the custom index market and is looking to expand into its own smart-beta indexes as well.

Best Index
Awarded to the index that has done the most to provide new ways of considering investment strategies, opportunities or ideas.

· CSI 300 Index
China A-shares were one of the biggest stories of 2015, and the CSI 300 is the S&P 500 of the China A-shares market. Holding the largest companies listed on mainland China, the CSI 300 offers investors a reliable measure and benchmark for following the turbulent A-share market.

· Morningstar Exponential Technologies Index
The index underlying the iShares Exponential Technologies ETF (XT) aims to capture the most innovative companies on the market. It offers a nontraditional (and perhaps more useful) take on the technology sector, looking at the producers as well as the consumers of technology.

· MSCI USA Quality Index
The MSCI USA Quality Index aims to capture high-quality firms that are growing well. The index focuses on companies with high ROE, stable earnings and strong balance sheets, highlighting the best of the best on the market.

· Reality Shares DIVCON Index
The Reality Shares DIVCON indexes take a new approach to the dividend market, seeking exposure to high-quality companies that are likely to increase their dividends in the years to come. The DIVCON dividend health scoring system has shown a remarkable ability to forecast dividend hikes and dividend cuts.

· S&P 500 Index
Everyone knows the S&P 500, and it remains the most important index in the world, with people worldwide using it to express their opinion on the market. Want a telling statistic? The S&P 500 was the underlying for the ETF with the largest inflows on the market (VOO) as well as the ETF with the largest outflows (SPY), while SPY options dominated the entire equity options market.

Best ETF Liquidity Provider

Awarded to the ETF liquidity provider (including market maker, authorized participant, agency broker, etc.) that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through education, support, services, innovation and outreach.

· Bloomberg Tradebook
A leading agency broker, Bloomberg Tradebook has brought technology to bear on the challenge of executing ETF trades, with unique tools that allow anonymous matching of buy and sell orders over a slick, technological interface.

· Cantor Fitzgerald
With Reggie Browne at the helm, Cantor Fitzgerald has aggressively grown its presence in the ETF market. The firm is noted for its expertise across a wide range of ETFs, from traditional equity to fixed income and more.

· Deutsche Asset Management
The nominations for Deutsche Asset Management highlighted the firm as a great trading partner, offering aggressive quoting and good service on a consistent basis.

· KCG
KCG’s legacy as a leader in the ETF market shines through with exceptional research, significant depth and a strong brand and reputation in the market for solid service. It was cited by Bloomberg Rankings in 2015 as No. 1 in U.S.-listed ETFs, with 22% market share.

· Jane Street
Jane Street’s market making business grew enormously in 2015, as the firm came to trade more than $1 trillion in ETFs, a 50% increase over 2014. It makes markets on over 1,800 ETFs in the U.S. and serves as lead market maker and seed backer for 54 new ETFs, and has built large client bases internationally, institutionally and electronically.

Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors

Awarded to the online brokerage offering the best package for ETF-focused investors. This award considers commission-free trading options, education materials, supporting services and other factors.

· Charles Schwab
From its OneSource program to its robo advisor, Schwab offers unique capabilities and unique value propositions to its clients. The firm is also noted for the high-quality ETF research and tools it offers to clients.

· Fidelity
Offering commission-free trading on its 85 ETFs, Fidelity also provides excellent data and research on the ETF space from a variety of high-quality providers, and a slick new ETF screener that debuted in December 2015. Its nominations reference the “best price improvement in the industry” for trades.

· Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers is beloved by investors for its low costs and impressive capabilities, including for options and stock loans. As one nomination said: “IB is the cheapest. Period!”

· Robinhood
If IB is the cheapest, Robinhood operates on another level. The much-hyped tech startup offers simple trading services—market, limit and a handful of other orders—over a slick Web app, for free, if you’ve received a beta invite to be a customer! Backed by impressive VCs, it’s looking to remake the brokerage industry for the millennial era.

· TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade receives broad kudos for offering a commission-free list of ETFs selected for their merits, rather than for any marketing payments or relationships. And that’s on top of a reputation for high-quality service at a fair price.

Best ETF Offering: Wire House

Awarded to the wire house that offer its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

· Merrill Lynch
Merrill Lynch received widespread praise for its overall ETF effort, including sophisticated ETF due diligence capabilities and a focus on high-quality portfolio construction, execution and more.

· Morgan Stanley
Well known as a sophisticated leader in the wire house space when it comes to ETFs, Morgan Stanley stands out for its highly respected research, well-known model portfolios and solid rep-as-PM model.

· UBS
Beyond a solid overall offering, nominations noted that UBS’ commitment to ETF research grew tremendously in 2015. Nominees noted particularly high praise for David Perlman, whose insightful research carefully ties UBS’ overall recommendations with specific ETF implementation tools.

Best ETF Offering: Independent Regional Broker-Dealer

Awarded to the independent broker-dealer offering its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

· Ameriprise
The nominations for Ameriprise highlight its overall commitment to ETFs, with a balanced approach and solid managed account capabilities.

· LPL
The nominations for LPL call it out as a great partner for the ETF industry, with solid research, ETF strategist portfolios and a penchant for allowing advisors access to a wide range of products.

· Raymond James
RayJay’s new ETF-only portfolios offer investors low-cost, broad-based exposure to the ETF market.

· Securities America
Securities America received multiple nominations for providing a strong service to sophisticated ETF clients, including many in the ETF strategist space.

Best ETF Research Paper

Awarded to the published paper from 2015 that most increased our understanding of how ETFs and/or index-based investments affect investor outcomes, whether in portfolios, markets or broader economic context.

· ETFs 2020: Preparing for a New Horizon – PricewaterhouseCoopers
PWC’s outlook for the ETF industry identified key trends and concerns, including the industry’s growing global footprint, challenging regulatory issues and technological disruption. It is a must-read for any ETF expert.

· Robustness of Smart Beta Strategies – Amenc, Goltz, Sivasubramanian, and Lodh
The abstract says it all: “There has been significant evidence that systematic equity investment strategies (so-called smart beta strategies) outperform the cap-weighted benchmarks in the long run. However, it is important to recognize that performance analysis is typically conducted on backtests … How robust is the outperformance?”

· Standard & Poor’s Index vs. Active Scorecard – Standard & Poor’s
The Standard & Poor’s Index vs. Active Scorecard keeps track of the percentage of actively managed funds that outperform the market. We’ll give you a hint: It ain’t many. The research is of fundamental value to everyone trying to talk sense into the lovers of traditional active mutual funds.

Best ETF Issuer Website

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an ETF issuer.

· BioShares
The BioShares ETF website offers everything a startup ETF provider can dream of, from detailed fund information to research and real-time data.

· BlackRock’s iShares
A behemoth in the space, BlackRock’s iShares makes the most of its scale with a rich website full of research, tools, portfolios and detailed fund information. The firm invested heavily in a new ETF screener, making it ever-easier to find the right ETF to express any point of view.

· PowerShares
PowerShares’ website receives kudos for being well-organized, in-depth and having exceptional intraday information on the ETFs in the PowerShares family.

· ProShares
ProShares’ product lineup is complex, with a mix of leveraged, inverse, alternative and tactical ETFs that could use some explanations. Its website is tops at taking complex products and providing a balanced view of their pros, cons and intricacies.

· State Street Global Advisors
SSgA received nominations for an in-depth website that prioritizes good information on its funds and its underlying indexes, as well as high-quality educational offering for investors at all levels of sophistication.

Best Index Provider Website

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an index provider.

· ERI Scientific Beta
ERI Scientific Beta’s website is a treasure trove of information, tools and research capabilities that has advanced academic finance in countless ways.

· MSCI
MSCI’s newly relaunched website brings high-quality design together with exceptional, institutional-quality research and insights around world-renowned core indexing capabilities.

· Reality Shares
For a small provider, Reality Shares blew the doors off with its index website, offering incredible insight into its products and strategies, with levels of transparency that should make established providers blush.

· S&P Dow Jones Indices
S&P Dow Jones Indices receives props for offering strong data (including downloadable data) and solid research, from the micro to the long-term macro perspective.

· STOXX
STOXX relaunched its website in July 2015, and created an intuitive, minimalistic Web product that provides exceptional data, research and information. You can compare and contrast indexes, listen to podcasts, view data and much, much more.

Best ETF Issuer Capital Markets Desk

Awarded to the ETF issuer providing the most useful support to advisors for ETF trading.

· BlackRock’s iShares
Nominations note that BlackRock’s iShares Capital Markets group offers “unrivaled trade analytics, trade expertise, broad relationships and comprehensive/deep product knowledge.”

· Deutsche Asset Management
The nominations noted that Deutsche Asset Management's Capital Markets group was a great partner in 2015, with a rapidly expanding team helping to source liquidity for retail and institutional clients alike. The firm was lauded for listening to its partners, improving processes and working hard to improve investor outcomes.

· FlexShares
The nominations for FlexShares commend the firm for being “available anywhere, anytime, for analysis, competitive positioning, context or working with a trading desk of another firm.” Multiple contributors highlighted the firm’s prowess in working with other trading desks to develop best practices in the industry.

· State Street Global Advisors
The team at SSgA is both knowledgeable and visible, providing guidance and helping clients execute trades in a wide variety of SSgA products.

· WisdomTree
WisdomTree’s capital markets capabilities are highlighted by the inimitable Dave Abner, who literally wrote the book on ETFs. Its dedication to customer service has received positive reviews from investors for years.

Best ETF Strategist

Awarded to the ETF strategist or model portfolio provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes in the previous year. Automated investment services are eligible for this award, as they provide managed portfolios en masse to investors.

· Astor Investment Management
An established provider and advocate for ETFs, Astor landed two of the top five strategies for asset growth by sticking to its knitting. Many of its strategies now have a solid 10-year track record.

· Beaumont Capital Management
Beaumont impressed by picking up a significant slug of assets departing the F-Squared group, with two of the top five strategies for asset growth. Its Decathlon Growth Aspect (Profile 5) strategy picked up almost $1 billion in the first nine months of the year.

· Clark Capital Management Group
As one nomination put it, “Clark Capital's Client-First Approach to asset management focuses on helping financial advisors deliver successful outcomes to clients.” The firm aims to personalize risk management for investors, with unique insights that react to a changing market environment.

· CLS Investments
The nominations for CLS note its strong relative performance compared with its peers and its proprietary risk budgeting methodology. The firm was a leader in incorporating factor strategies into its portfolios, and received wide kudos for its forward-thinking nature in the smart-beta space.

· RiverFront Investment Group
Last year’s winner in the category, RiverFront again received a large number of nominations as an institutional-quality firm offering strong portfolios. The firm’s ability to put out high-quality research to support its portfolio management decisions is seen as second-to-none.

· Sage Advisory Services
The dominant ETF strategist in the fixed-income space, the firm made marks this year with the deployment of ETFs into cash balance plans. With $11.5 billion in AUM now deployed across everything from 100% fixed income to 100% equity exposure (and everything in between), Sage is seen as “first-among-equals” by many in the ETF strategist space.

Best ETF Advisor

Awarded to an individual financial advisor or advisor team that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios to clients in an innovative way.

· Chudom Hayes Wealth Management – Morgan Stanley, Oak Brook, IL
"Chudom Hayes has been running ETF portfolios at a major wirehouse longer than anyone I can think of," said one nomination, "and have done a great job of staying on top of current trends. But more than anything, they adopted ETFs and continue to use them because they put the client first, which is paramount to their group, their success and the ultimate success of their clients." The firm manages three ETF models with more than $600 million in AUM.

· Efficient Market Advisors
"EMA is the best financial advisor I have ever chosen," says one nomination. "Herb Morgan and team provide a weekly commentary that explains the status of the economy and market indicators required to understand how the investments they select are chosen. Having Herb and team manage my portfolio gives me peace of mind my retirement funds are directed to the appropriate allocation to ensure comfortable retirement."

· Miracle Mile Advisors
"Los Angeles-based Miracle Mile Advisors was founded by former Morgan Stanley investment advisor Brock Moseley in 2007 to help retail investors navigate the cratering market that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis," says one nomination. "The firm is a fee-only advisory and specializes in providing sophisticated financial plans using portfolios’ low-cost investment vehicles such as ETFs. [It]’s recognized as an active indexing pioneer: Brock says, an active indexing strategy marries an active asset allocation approach with traditionally passive investment instruments, such as ETFs."

· Nottingham Advisors
An asset allocation specialist, Nottingham crafts global, multi-asset-class portfolios using index-based vehicles, such as ETFs. Its global index-based strategies are available to advisors and investors via separately managed accounts. The group is a big proponent of ETFs and ETF-based strategies in the media and elsewhere.

· Oakeson Steiner Wealth & Retirement
The firm out of Hastings, Nebraska, uses ETFs extensively to manage nearly $1 billion in assets. The independent firm places a huge priority on working closely with clients on an independent basis.

Best Institutional ETF User

Awarded to an institutional investor that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios in an innovative way.

· Arizona State Retirement System
The Arizona State Retirement System continues to be an early adopter of ETFs, famously working with iShares in years past to help fund and seed new ETF launches in the factor-based ETF market.

· Employees Retirement System of Texas
ERST has been a vocal and significant adopter of ETFs, particularly fixed-income ETFs. The firm showed how the liquidity that ETFs offer allowed it to efficiently migrate capital to adjust for a changing fixed-income environment.

· Lazard Asset Management
Lazard developed the "Lazard Capital Allocator Series" in 2004 and became an early and leading institutional user of ETFs to provide investors with attractive returns using an innovative investment approach.

· State of New Jersey Common Pension Fund
The State of New Jersey Common Pension Fund is widely known as a major user of ETFs, and particularly fixed-income ETFs, part of the wave of institutional money moving into the fixed-income ETF space.

· USAA
USAA is one of the largest holders of the iShares Factor ETFs, include QUAL and VLUE, and has adapted ETFs extensively throughout its platform.

Best New ETF Ticker
Awarded to the ETF with the best new ETF ticker. The ETF must have launched in 2015 to qualify.

· BITE: The Restaurant ETF

· CRAK: Market Vectors Oil Refiners ETF

· GUSH/DRIP: Direxion Daily S&P Oil & Gas Exp. & Prod. Bull 3X and Bear 3X ETF

· IPAY: PureFunds ISE Mobile Payments ETF

· JETS: U.S. Global Jets ETF

 

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