And The 2016 ETF.com Europe Awards Winners Are ...

April 27, 2017

The third Annual ETF.com Europe Awards, in partnership with Inside ETFs, celebrated the funds, people and companies that contributed to another phenomenal year of growth in the ETF industry in 2016.

From humble beginnings in the early 2000s, the industry in Europe now boasts more than 1,500 ETFs and combined assets of close to €600 billion.

The 25 award categories gave weight to new and innovative product launches, as well as the established ETFs and people who helped investors make wise decisions with their capital last year.

Crowning the winners’ list was the Amundi ETF MSCI Emerging Markets UCITS ETF (LSE: AUEM). It won European ETF of the Year, and gathered more than €1.5 billion of investor assets in 2016, according to the provider.

In a crowded product landscape and at a time when all eyes were on emerging markets’ rallying returns, the $3.2 billion fund also offers accurate tracking of the underlying index: its one-year returns beat every other competitor.

At 19.48% returns over one year to 26 April, it beat the largest fund in terms of assets, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets UCITS ETF (Dist) (LSE: IEEM), which gained 18.53% over the same period.

The winner is relatively cheap, too. Emerging markets is one of the last equity asset classes to move toward low fees, yet AUEM only costs 0.20%.

Amundi’s fund beat the following ETFs to the prize:

  • db X-trackers MSCI USA Index UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor FTSE Actuaries UK Gilts Inflation-Linked (DR) UCITS ETF
  • iShares Edge MSCI World Value Factor UCITS ETF
  • Ossiam Shiller Barclays CAPE US Sector Value TR UCITS ETF 1C (USD)
  • Vanguard S&P 500 UCITS ETF

Here’s a rundown of this year’s other awards in Europe …

 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Graham Tuckwell, founder, chairman, ETF Securities

Graham Tuckwell, a legend in the ETF industry, built the largest ETF provider in Europe from the ground up. Prior to starting his own company, Tuckwell was a key player in the development of gold bullion ETFs, and was a champion of passive investing in commodities around the world.

Finalists for this award included:

  • Valerie Baudson, Chief Executive Officer, CPR Asset Management (Amundi)
  • Isabelle Bourcier, Head of ETF and Indexed Fund Activities, THEAM
  • Mark Makepeace, Chief Executive Officer, FTSE Group
  • Baer Pettit, Chief Operating Officer, MSCI

Inside ETFs CEO Matt Hougan told Tuckwell: "You have been inspirational to watch, and all you do is so aligned to the ETF industry."

Tuckwell entered the industry in 2002. At the awards dinner, he spoke of how the World Gold Coucil invited him to London, and how an industry contact told him how market makers were "important." "I just couldn't understand it," he joked.

He described how he grew his company to billions of dollars, and said the three-hour commute between Melbourne and London "almost killed him."

Success was hard fought, but the company became a market leader. 

His words of warning to the ETF industry? No more ETF providers will be able to build from the ground up, and he claimed ETF Securities was the last independent ETF provider in the continent.:"Those days are over."

As for the future, Tuckwell says he saw the ETF industry as a fintech business. "The next layer of development will be involving many more people in buying ETFs, and how tech can benefit investors," he said. 

He notes he would eventually step back from the business, but was excited by the "stability" of his young team.

Best New ETF in Europe – 2016: iShares Fallen Angels High Yield Corporate Bond UCITS ETF (LSE: WING)

This award celebrated the most important ETF launched last year, in terms of overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. WING had an incredible 2016 and captures an exciting niche for European investors. The fund focuses on fallen angel bonds, which are investment-grade bonds that have been downgraded to junk bond status, and research shows that this fixed-income category outperforms the market over the long term.

WING has already gathered more than $258 million, despite only launching in June last year. It is also diversified, with 349 underlying holdings—exposure is split between the U.S. and Italy—and it is a useful addition to iShares’ four-strong high-yield bond ETF range.

Finalists included:

  • Amundi ETF Floating Rate USD Corporate UCITS ETF – Hedged EUR
  • iShares MSCI EM SRI UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor US$ 10Y Inflation Expectations UCITS ETF
  • PowerShares FTSE UK High Dividend Low Volatility UCITS ETF

 

Best New Equity ETF in Europe – 2016: iShares MSCI EM SRI UCITS ETF (LSE: SUSM)

Again, this fund was recognized for contributing to positive investor outcomes but within equities.

As investors are increasingly seeking ways to place their capital with companies that adhere to environmental, social and governance risk criteria, this fund has become a perfect fit for many portfolios, and has already racked up $40.5 million since launching last July.

It won’t break the bank at 0.35% fees, and who says SRI doesn’t pay off? SUSM has returned 13.18% year-to-date in USD terms compared with equivalent parent fund’s 9.65% over the same period.

Finalists included:

  • BNP Paribas Easy Equity Low Vol Europe UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor FTSE All World Minimum Variance UCITS ETF
  • PowerShares FTSE UK High Dividend Low Volatility UCITS ETF
  • XACT Swedish Small Cap UCITS ETF

 

 

Best New Fixed Income ETF in Europe – 2016: iShares € Corp Bond Sustainability Screened 0-3yr UCITS ETF (LSE: SUSE)

This fund scooped the award for the most important fixed-income ETF last year because it has offered investors an innovative solution for short-dated corporate debt that is both sustainable and denominated in euros. Happily, it excludes debt from companies involved in weapons manufacturing.

It’s niche but it’s smart, as SUSE provides a way to avoid the U.S.-denominated market and associated currency risk, but it also offers underlying securities that are less sensitive to interest rate movements. Investors seem to like it, as SUSE has gained more than $470 million since launch.

Finalists included:

  • Amundi ETF Floating Rate USD Corporate UCITS ETF – Hedged EUR
  • db X-trackers iBoxx USD Emerging Sovereigns Quality Weighted UCITS ETF
  • Fullgoal FTSE China Onshore Sovereign and Policy Bank Bond 1-10 Year Index ETF
  • Lyxor US$ 10Y Inflation Expectations UCITS ETF
  • iShares Fallen Angels High Yield Corporate Bond UCITS ETF
  • Vanguard USD Emerging Markets Government Bond UCITS ETF

 

Best New Alternatives ETF in Europe – 2016: Boost S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures 2.25x Leverage Daily ETP (IM: VIXL)

This fund provides a unique solution to leveraging short-term futures on the volatility index by 2.25 times. The alternative fund is a good fit for sophisticated investors concerned about near-term market crises, as it hedges out the risk. A market downfall can harm everyone, but this fund goes one step to mitigating calamity for those willing to leverage exposure.

Finalist:

  • Boost S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures 2.25x Leverage Daily ETP

 

Most Innovative New ETF in Europe – 2016: iShares Automation & Robotics UCITS ETF (LSE: RBTX)

The most groundbreaking and disruptive ETF launched in 2016 had to go to RBTX, which offers European investors more exposure to companies across the world—not just in the U.S.—that are set to benefit from increasing robotic usage.

This trend is dominating the airwaves, and similar ETFs across the pond have gained a phenomenal amount of assets. RBTX has already grown to $431 million since it came to market in September.

Finalists included:

  • ComStage Alpha Dividende Plus UCITS ETF
  • iShares MSCI EM SRI UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor J.P. Morgan Multi-Factor Europe Index UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor US$ 10Y Inflation Expectations UCITS ETF

 

 

Best New Smart Beta ETF in Europe – 2016: Lyxor FTSE All World Minimum Variance UCITS ETF (LSE: MVAW)

The Lyxor FTSE All World Minimum Variance UCITS ETF has demonstrated how an ETF can successfully use a quantitative and research-driven approach to aim to deliver superior long-term, risk-adjusted returns. It covers almost 2,000 stocks and aims to keep investors in the market while protecting them from downside risk.

The fund costs just 0.30% and has gained 13.6% returns in USD terms since launch on 16 June to 26 April, just short of the Lyxor MSCI World UCITS ETF (SW: LYWLD)’s 14.6% over the same period in USD terms.

Finalists included:

  • db X-trackers iBoxx USD Emerging Sovereigns Quality Weighted UCITS ETF
  • iShares Edge MSCI USA Value Factor UCITS ETF
  • J.P. Lyxor J.P. Morgan Multi-Factor Europe Index UCITS ETF
  • PowerShares FTSE UK High Dividend Low Volatility UCITS ETF
  • Source FTSE RAFI Europe Equity Income Physical UCITS ETF

Lyxor's Adam Laird commented: "Lyxor is closing in on the No. 2 spot in Europe. The next growing area is smart beta, and we're playing to our strengths there."

 

Best New Commodity ETF in Europe – 2016: WisdomTree Enhanced Commodity UCITS USD ETF (LSE: WCOA)

WCOA has a clever approach, as it seeks to outperform the Bloomberg Commodity Total Return Index by selecting contracts in order to maximize the benefits of roll yield and reduce the impact of contango. Normally an expensive asset class, WCOA is only 0.35% in fees. For old-school energy bulls, this fund has close to 29% invested in the sector, but agriculture is the larger bet, at 36%.

Finalists included:

  • BNP Paribas Easy S&P GSCI Energy & Metals Capped Component 35/20 UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor Commodities Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB EX-Agriculture TR UCITS ETF
  • UBS ETFs plc - CMCI Ex-Agriculture SF UCITS ETF (hedged to EUR) A-acc
  • XACT Ravaror UCITS ETF

 

Best New Active ETF in Europe – 2016: ComStage Alpha Dividende Plus UCITS – (LSE: ETF750)

Across all asset classes, this unique ETF and the first actively managed ETF in the ComStage range, scooped the prize.

Its original approach to the market, using quantitative screens and picking stocks based on momentum, price to earnings growth and profitability, then screening for low volatility and high dividend pay-outs, impressed our judging panel. It has returned around 7.6% in euro terms since it launched last summer, according to its fact sheet.

Its top three sectors are banks, utilities and consumer goods, mostly in the U.S., France and Germany.

Finalist:

  • Comstage Alpha Dividende Plus UCITS

 

 

Thematic ETF of the Year for Europe – 2016: iShares Automation & Robotics UCITS (LSE: RBTX)

Robotics are back with a second prize for the night, as this category focused on products that could capture important macro plays that lead to specific portfolio outcomes.

iShares crashed into the market to offer European investors another choice to cash in on the rising usage of robotics, and knocking its main competitor—the ETF Securities Global Robotics and Automation GO UCITS ETF (LSE: ROBO)—out of the park in terms of fees, at just 0.40%, half that of ROBO.

There are now four ETFs in Europe that focus on the robotics and automation sector, as BlackRock and ETF Securities have two products each.

RBTX is up 25.4% in GBP terms since launch last September.

Finalists included:

  • iShares Ageing Population UCITS ETF
  • iShares Digitalisation UCITS ETF
  • Lyxor US$ 10Y Inflation Breakeven UCITS Cap USD ETF

 

ETF Provider of the Year for Europe – 2016: iShares by BlackRock

Providers across the continent have made impressive advances in the ETF industry last year, but the judging panel was looking for the single issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, asset gathering, investor support and innovation in 2016.

“iShares is a dominant force in ETFs, with approximately $1 trillion in assets from over 700 ETPs,” wrote one nomination.

In 2016, it struck ahead of competitors by launching several innovative products linked to single factors, multiple factors, SRI strategies and thematic approaches.

It remains the heavyweight of the industry and is No. 1 in terms of assets under management: It claims 47.6% of European ETF market share, but it certainly has not become complacent in its success.

Finalists included:

  • Amundi ETF
  • Deutsche Asset Management
  • Lyxor ETF
  • Vanguard

 

Best New ETF Issuer in Europe – 2016: Fullgoal Asset Management

Fullgoal Asset Management took the prize for the issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through products, performance, support and innovation.

Sensing an opportunity, Hong Kong-based Fullgoal is the first Chinese issuer to launch in Europe without the support of a local partner. The firm brought a novel Chinese fixed-income ETF to market, and is looking to become a significant player in the continent. The new product, launched on 21 June in London, tracks the FTSE China Onshore Sovereign and Policy Bank Bond 1-10 Year Index, allowing investors to tap into the increasing internationalisation of the Chinese yuan.

Finalist:

  • Fullgoal Asset Management

 

 

Best ETF issuer Website in Europe – 2016: Lyxor ETFs

Lyxor’s digital interface was judged to be the most informative and user-friendly website of any ETF issuer in Europe.

Lyxor relaunched its website last September, and although the move was overdue, the new interface provides very useful and detailed information on every product, such as full holdings, tracking error and counterparty information. It also offers a modern approach, with slickly produced videos. Most importantly, it is easy to move around the website, and the wording is simple and clear—crucial to helping investors make the right decisions.

Finalists included:

  • Deutsche Asset Management
  • iShares by BlackRock
  • WisdomTree
  • Zyfin Funds

Adam Laird of Lyxor said, "In the digital age, investors need more and more information. We are the go-to resource for investors."

 

Index of the Year – 2016: MSCI Emerging Markets SRI Index

As socially responsible investing gathers traction, investors will be pleased to learn they can place their cash with companies that adhere to the values they hold dear, wherever the company is based around the world. It includes large- and midcap companies from 23 countries, and returned 14.19% in 2016 in USD terms compared with its parent index’s 11.60%.

Finalists included:

  • iStoxx MUTB Global Quality Indices
  • S&P Long-Term Value Creation Global Index
  • Scientific Beta Developed Multi-Beta Multi-Strategy ERC Index
  • SPI Multi Premia Index

 

Index Provider of the Year – 2016: TIE: MSCI and Solactive

It’s not often that two companies claim the same prize, but the judging panel wanted to reward both MSCI and Solactive for having done the most in 2016 toward positive investor outcomes through new indexes in the market, research and adviser support.

While MSCI, a dominant player, continues to launch innovative single- and multifactor as well as SRI indexes, Solactive is an expert at pushing the boundaries within the industry, making custom benchmarks, pushing down prices for ETF issuers and making strides within the smart-beta and ESG space.

Finalists included:

  • ERI Scientific Beta 
  • FTSE
  • Markit iBoxx

 

 

Best Index Provider Website in Europe – 2016: MSCI

MSCI’s new digital makeover is an “innovative website [which] provides a one stop index resource and tools center,” wrote one nomination.

Its country heatmaps and informative research papers are second to none in the industry, and the judges decided that its insights and high-quality design merited this award.

Finalists included:

  • ERI Scientific Beta
  • FTSE
  • Markit iBoxx
  • SIX Swiss Exchange Ltd

 

Best ETF Liquidity Provider in Europe – 2016: Jane Street

Jane Street claimed the prize for providing the best education, support, services, innovation and outreach in a category of liquidity providers including market makers, authorized participants and agency brokers.

The winner handled $1.4 trillion in ETF trades last year, and has doubled its European trading volume last year in Europe to more than $270 billion. It has also seeded nine new ETFs and was highlighted in the nominations process for automating its RFQ process and helping convert bond portfolios into ETF shares.

Finalists included:

  • Bluefin
  • BNP Paribas
  • FlowTraders
  • Susquehanna International Group (SIG)

 

Best ETF Lawyer in Europe – 2016: Maples and Calder

Maples and Calder was celebrated for its contribution to the ETF industry through diligent service and pushing effective products in a responsible and timely way into the marketplace.

In terms of the number of funds it advises on and the new funds set up last year, Maples and Calder is Ireland’s market leader, and is steadily increasing its market share.

The firm specializes in fund development, developing and structuring financial indices for UCITS vehicles, as well as cross-border structuring and other services.

Finalists included:

  • Matheson
  • William Fry

 

 

Best ETF Custodian in Europe – 2016: Brown Brothers Harriman

Brown Brothers Harriman has won first prize for its diligent service, efficient back-office operations and the ultimate safeguarding of investor capital.

The market leader, which operates on a global scale in terms of ETFs, is known for working closely with customers and making strides with thought leadership activities.

  • Bank of New York Mellon
  • Northern Trust
  • State Street

 

Best UK Adviser Platform For ETFs – 2016: Novia

Novia is a familiar and trusted name among the UK adviser community. It has also pleased advisers for offering an increasing number of passive funds on its platform for reasonable costs, and has added multicurrency ETFs in sterling, U.S. dollar and euro denominations. The platform also offers extensive information on what ETFs are, how the platform trades them and information on each of the product providers.

It also recently moved to offer fractional dealing on ETFs, meaning portfolio managers could buy the exact percentage of shares they wanted, through its discretionary fund manager Copia Capital Management.

Finalists included:

  • AJ Bell
  • Ascentric
  • Cofunds
  • Winterflood

 

Best ETF Investor – 2016: Twenty20 Investments

Twenty20 Investments was one of the earliest firms to move into the ETF space, and founder Allan Lane is a respected voice—as well as critic—within industry circles. He has partnered with providers to launch custom, innovative ETFs, and his evidence-based investment strategy, according to one nomination, shines through in well-diversified portfolios. His appeal for more products, such as sterling-denominated and hedged ETFs, has spurred on providers to provide those solutions.

Finalists included:

  • Copia Capital Management
  • Feri Trust
  • Price Bailey
  • Secure Wealth Management

Allan Lane said of Twenty20 Investments' win: "We are humbled and surprised to win. Five years ago, IFAs were not on board with our ETF portfolio approach. We had staying power in an industry, and we went through an era where nobody supported what we were about. We were determined and worked hard."

 

Robo Adviser of the Year for Europe – 2016: Nutmeg

Nutmeg was one of the first firms to launch into ETF-focused portfolios, not shying away from using other vehicles for the right asset classes. The digital behemoth continued to grow in 2016, and its innovative advertising has truly captured a younger, savvy market, making them familiar with lower-cost investing and the pros of passive funds.

Finalists included:

  • ETFMatic
  • Moneyfarm
  • Scalable Capital

 

Best ETF Research Paper in Europe – 2016: Fallen Angels: The Investment Opportunity – Andrew Clare, Stephen Thomas and Nick Motson

This award went to the paper that has most increased our understanding of how ETFs and/or index-based investments affect investor outcomes, whether in portfolios, markets or broader economic context.

The judges gave the award to “Fallen Angels: The Investment Opportunity,” by Andrew Clare, Stephen Thomas and Nick Motson, which took a deep dive at the return profile of fallen angel bonds, a topical asset class, proving that they can provide positive returns over the long term in a challenging fixed-income environment.

During a particular 30-day window after the bond falls, its price rose, and the paper found that this “phenomenon offered investors the opportunity to enhance the returns on a multi-asset class portfolio and at the same time the potential to improve the diversification of their portfolios.”

You can read the paper here.

Finalists included:

  • Active Funds vs. Benchmark: Performance Comparison – Marlene Hassine, Lyxor
  • Constructing Low Volatility Strategies – MSCI

Invesco PowerShares Product Analyst Michael Stewart said, "The asset class provides short-term and long-term returns, but the key is to get invested quickly."

 

ETF Ticker of the Year for Europe – 2016: TIE: iShares Fallen Angels High Yield Corporate Bond UCITS ETF (WING) & UBS Factor MSCI USA Low Volatility UCITS ETF hedged to GBP A Dis (ULOV)

A ticker is not just four random letters. It’s a creative way to describe a fund, and is crucial for a fund to be easily recognized and remembered by an investor. Who could not love WING, to describe a fallen angel bond ETF? Similarly, ULOV is reminiscent of text message speak among teenagers, but suggests investors will “love” this low-volatility ETF from UBS. In a dense product landscape, creativity and fun can help make a product stand out from the crowd.

Finalists included:

  • Amundi Index S&P 500 DR UCITS ETF Cap (S500)
  • iShares Ageing Population UCITS ETF (AGED)
  • iShares Healthcare Innovation UCITS ETF (HEAL)

 

 

Methodology

ETF.com Europe Award winners were 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 open nominations on 19 December 2016 and closed on 20 January 2017. Interested parties were invited to submit nominations, and self-nominations were accepted. Winners had to be nominated, and no nominations were accepted after the deadline.

Step 2

Following the open nominations process, the ETF.com European Awards nominating committee—made up of senior leaders at Inside ETFs, ETF.com and 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 were broken where possible with head-to-head runoff votes. If ties could not be broken, more than five finalists were allowed.

Members of the 2016 ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee:

  • Matt Hougan, CEO, Inside ETFs (Chair)
  • Heather Bell, Managing Editor, ETF.com
  • Dave Nadig, CEO, ETF.com
  • John Swolfs, Director of Conference Content, Inside ETFs

Step 3

Winners were selected by a majority vote of the ETF.com Europe Awards Selection Committee, a group of independent ETF experts from throughout the financial community.

ETF.com Awards Selection Committee Members:

  • Jim Wiandt, founder, ETF.com (Chair)
  • Jan Altmann, Founder, 4asset-management
  • Hortense Bioy, Director, passive fund research, Morningstar
  • Christos Costandinides, Founder, BlueHarbor
  • Allan Lane, Managing Partner, Twenty20 Investments
  • Shaun Port, CIO, Nutmeg

 

Voters had to recuse themselves from any category in which they or their firm were nominated.

The results were kept secret until 27 April, and announced at the 3rd Annual ETF.com Europe Awards Dinner at the Gherkin in London.

 

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