Older and wiser, FaithShares’ former CEO turns his attention to helping others bring ETFs to market.
Garrett Stevens, co-founder and former head of the defunct ETF firm, FaithShares, is now spearheading a new company with a new mission: bringing ETF strategies to market for others.
Armed with the regulatory permission FaithShares had to market ETFs, Stevens told IndexUniverse.com Managing Editor Olivier Ludwig that his new company, Exchange Traded Concepts, is in talks with about 20 subadvisors, and is likely to put the first funds into registration on behalf of clients well before the summer ends.
Ludwig: Before we get into your new company, Exchange Traded Concepts, what would you say you learned from FaithShares?
Stevens: We learned that the complexity of launching and running a fund is much greater than anticipated. We also learned about the marketing process and the distribution process for funds, and just some of the timing issues and the operational issues that come with running a fund.
Ludwig: I apologize if I sound like one more voice from the peanut gallery, but were those Christian strategies just too precise? Or was there some kind of a shortcoming on the marketing end? How do you view that in the rearview mirror?
Stevens: In hindsight, we should have probably done just a couple of them, and started out with just the Christian and Catholic funds as opposed to all five of them. Then we could have broadened out later as demand showed up.
Ludwig: And the reason for that is that there are more Catholics than any other Christians in America, and because there are more Christians than any other religious group in America?
Stevens: That’s right, just demographics. I think that would have let us conserve capital and last longer.
And frankly, had we had the opportunity to do something like what we’re offering now with Exchange Traded Concepts, I would have jumped all over that, because we would have saved a tremendous amount of startup capital that we could have used for success-based capital, marketing and distribution instead.
So, we also learned that the legal expenses were very high on launching the funds. People had told us they would be high, and they were higher. And that’s, I think, the nature of starting any kind of business.
Ludwig: You always have some surprises lurking around the corner, because you’ve never been around that corner before?
Stevens: That’s exactly right. There’s always something—in the history of mankind, I’m sure there’s no business that has been started under budget and on time.
Ludwig: So, going forward, it’s all going to be liquidated, and there won’t be any vestige of FaithShares in the new entity. For example, even the final FaithShares fund won’t have a reincarnation as one of your first products that you bring to market.
Stevens: There is somebody who’s interested in another faith-based product. They had an interest in our funds, and would like to have seen our screening done differently. And so we’re talking with him about launching a product based on their research and screening and some things they want to see different. But it is of no relation to us.