NEW ETF ISSUER OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Tidal ETF Services (SoFi)
Toroso Investments was nominated for this award due to its launch of the SoFi ETFs last year. The firm, which operates its white label ETF business under the name Tidal ETF Services, rolled out a total of eight ETFs under its exemptive relief in 2019, its first batch of launches. Those funds had more than $750 million in assets under management toward the end of February.
However, the SoFi funds stand out among these for their innovation. The largest is the $67 million SoFi Select 500 ETF (SFY), a large cap U.S. smart beta ETF with a growth tilt that has an expense ratio of zero after the application of a waiver. Essentially, SoFi simultaneously launched its flagship ETF and threw down a gauntlet at a time when issuers are shaving basis points from expense ratios by simply tossing the expense ratio out the window.
It did the same with the $7.7 million midcap-focused SoFi Next 500 ETF (SFYX), which launched with SFY. Both funds have growth-focused portfolios designed to appeal to SoFi’s younger customer base. The firm is known as a personal finance company, and started out providing student loan refinancing.
MOST INNOVATIVE ETF ISSUER
ARK is quickly becoming the ETF issuer to watch in this industry. In an ocean of passively managed ETFs and active management naysayers, the small but mighty ARK continues to gain traction, grow its following, buck active outflow trends, and expand its reputation as the firm behind some of the most exciting ahead-of-the-rest disruptive technology ETF ideas.
The hallmark of ARK’s approach, led by Cathie Wood, is its high-conviction portfolios designed to own the disruptive leaders, capitalizing on fast-moving industries and avoiding companies that are most likely to be displaced by new technology.
In 2019, four of ARK’s best-known ETFs hit their first five-year track record milestone, and the firm’s biggest strategy, the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) is now a $2 billion ETF, the second-largest actively managed equity ETF on the market today.
The firm is showing no signs of slowing down, pushing innovation further and bringing to market in 2019 the ARK Fintech Innovation ETF (ARKF), which focuses on disruptive technology in the financial industry. Like many of the other ARK ETFs—now seven in total, commanding about $3.3 billion in total assets—ARKF already crossed the $100-million-in-assets mark in its first year, making it one of the most successful ETF launches of 2019.