5 Exciting Things About Inside ETFs

The world’s largest ETF conference is 11 days away. Here are the things I’m most looking forward to.

Reviewed by: Matt Hougan
Edited by: Matt Hougan

Inside ETFs—the world’s largest ETF conference—is the highlight of the ETF.com calendar year.


Throughout the year, almost all of the 65-plus employees here at ETF.com contribute in some way to preparing for the event. We design the agenda, build the parties, secure keynote speakers, book musical acts, market the event, choose menus and make a million other decisions.


With more than 1,600 people set to descend on the Diplomat Resort & Spa for 3 1/2 days, it’s a big lift to plan.


And yet, even in the run-up to the event—even with my team working around the clock and weekends—we’re more fired up than tired out here at ETF.com.


Our feeling is that we’ve really dialed things up for the 2015 event, and we can’t wait to see it come together.


Here are five of the things I’m most excited about seeing at the conference in two few weeks. (Note: There’s still time to register if you want to attend. Click here to register.)


1. The Keynote Speakers: From Terry Bradshaw to Jeff Gundlach


My favorite part of any conference is usually the keynotes. Stand-alone speakers have a chance to craft a story, and I love sitting back, listening to and learning from what they have to say.


With this in mind, we made a huge investment in 2015 to bring in the best lineup of keynote speakers ever. My personal highlights include:


  • Terry Bradshaw: Hilarious, inspiring and a legend in the NFL is fitting in the week leading up to the New England Patriot’s victory in this year’s Super Bowl (J).
  • Jeff Gundlach: The hottest investor in the world and a polymath whose talks are always fantastic.
  • Carville & Rove: With CNBC’s Bob Pisani moderating, a political showdown.
  • Brad Katsumaya: The “Flash Boys” hero talks about what’s going on with market structure and what it means for investors.
  • Robert Kaplan: Kaplan was the No. 1-rated speaker at Inside ETFs 2014, so we invited him back. He’s the best geopolitical speaker we know.
  • Rob Arnott: The father of “smart beta” is one of the best public speakers I know.
  • Meredith Whitney: A lightning rod to be sure, but very sharp. I want to hear what she has to say.

There are more: Mark Yusko, Dennis Gartman, Larry Swedroe, Joe Davis, Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss, Deborah Fuhr, David Kotok, Michael Jones, Phil Mackintosh, David Mazza, Catherine Wood, Heidi Richardson and Mitch Zacks.


That’s 23 keynote-style talks in 3 1/2 days, with so many smart people I respect. The challenge is going to be deciding which to go to during the track sessions!


2. Dave Nadig & My Keynote

Dave Nadig and I deliver one of the opening keynote addresses at every Inside ETFs, and 2015 is no different. We’ll kick things off on Monday, Jan. 26, at 8:55 a.m.


The truth is that Dave and I usually finish writing our keynote the Sunday before the conference; we’re procrastinators and like to have the latest data in our presentations.


But this year, Dave and I are going big-picture. We’ll present a compelling picture of an ETF market at a tipping point, with some new data and new ideas about what's next for advisors.

I’m usually nervous about our keynote. This year, I’m fired up.


3. The Adam Nash/Ric Edelman Debate: The Future of Financial Advice

I think that the rise of robo advisors is one of the defining memes of 2015. Will they reshape the financial landscape or be a blip that doesn’t impact most investors?


If you wanted the answer to that question, the two people you’d want to talk to are Adam Nash and Ric Edelman. Adam is the CEO of Wealthfront, the world’s largest robo advisor, and Ric is the CEO of Edelman Financial, the world’s largest RIA.


Both have unique ways of delivering high-quality portfolios to the masses, and on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 10:50 a.m., I get to grill them for 40 minutes to tease out where this market is going.


I’m a little giddy at the prospect.


4. Tito Puente Jr. on Sunday Night

I love all the parties at Inside ETFs, but this year, I’m particularly excited for Sunday night. As part of our Havana Night theme, we’ve brought in Tito Puente Jr. to bring live mambo music to the Sunday night reception. We’ve been listening to Tito at ETF.com headquarters ever since we booked him a few months back, and we’re big fans.


If the weather cooperates, the combination of great music, awesome food (including roast pig) and hanging out by the ocean will be tough to beat.


5. Our Big Announcement

Each year at Inside ETFs we try to announce at least one thing that will reshape how investors interact with ETFs.


We’re doing it again in 2015, of course … probably on Tuesday. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I’m pretty excited.

All in all, I think it’s going to be an incredible event. We already have more than 1,600 people signed up to attend. If you’re not coming yet, there’s still time to register.




Matt Hougan is CEO of Inside ETFs, a division of Informa PLC. He spearheads the world's largest ETF conferences and webinars. Hougan is a three-time member of the Barron's ETF Roundtable and co-author of the CFA Institute’s monograph, "A Comprehensive Guide to Exchange-Trade Funds."