THEMATIC ETF OF THE YEAR (TIE)
WINNER: VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO)
WINNER: EventShares U.S. Policy Alpha ETF (PLCY)
There was a tie for Thematic ETF of the Year, with the VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) and the EventShares U.S. Policy Alpha ETF (PLCY) each claiming the prize. Both funds are the first of their respective kind, and offer a unique take on different parts of the U.S. market.
ESPO is a global pure-play fund that covers companies that generate at least half of their revenues from the video gaming and esports-related industries, including those operating as hardware and software providers, game developers, league operators and providers of platforms, among other participants in the space. The fund holds a portfolio of 26 securities, with heavy weightings in game developers and hardware companies, especially those based in the U.S., China, Korea and Japan.
PLCY is an actively managed fund that chooses its holdings based on how the companies will be affected by U.S. government regulations, trade policies and fiscal spending. Its portfolio consists of 50-100 companies held long or short based on their exposure to U.S. policies around such topics as spending, defense, health care, trade agreements, tariffs, industry regulation, environment or taxes. Launched in 2017, PLCY was revamped in April 2018 to combine the objectives of three different funds focused on policy from a partisan and tax perspectives.
ETF ISSUER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: J.P. Morgan Asset Management
Slowly but surely, J.P. Morgan Asset Management built up its presence in the ETF pool over time, only to punctuate 2018 with a big splash.
The firm, known globally as one of the most successful active managers, has been involved for years in the ETF space, mining the alternative and fixed-income corners of the market. However, 2018 was a literal turning point for the firm’s product development.
The launch of the plain-vanilla—and cheap—indexing suite called “BetaBuilders” not only significantly cut the cost of owning foreign-country equity ETFs, assets flowed in quickly. Clearly, there was a plan underlying the launch of these ETFs that attracted more than $10 billion in new assets under management (AUM) across five new funds in less than a year.
At the end of 2017, the ETF arm of J.P. Morgan had $6.2 billion in AUM. One year later, the firm had more than $20 billion on the back of the “BetaBuilder” suite, which is simply basic equity indexes covering mostly individual countries at half the market rate charged by competitors.
As of March 1, 2019, the J.P. Morgan Asset Management ETF AUM has grown to $26 billion. Costs matter, and knowing there’s a market for your products is obviously working for J.P. Morgan; thus, “ETF Issuer of the Year” is a well-deserved win.
We’re looking forward to what’s next from the company.