And The 2016 Awards Winners Are …

March 30, 2017

Best ETF Issuer: iShares by BlackRock

Awarded to the ETF 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.

With 23 ETFs launched in 2016, it’s no wonder iShares claims the title of ETF Issuer of the Year. That amount is nearly double that of the second-most prolific issuer. However, a look at the quality of its launches further supports the argument for the issuer’s victory. The mix taps directly into the ETF industry zeitgeist and includes four socially responsible funds, three funds with adaptive currency hedges, a family of multifactor sectors, a handful of bond funds covering unique areas, and a small-cap version of its blockbuster minimum-volatility ETF. BlackRock also remains the largest ETF issuer in the world, after crossing the $1 trillion mark in 2016, and it pulled in more assets during the year than any other issuer, at $105 billion.

Finalists included:

  • Charles Schwab
  • Goldman Sachs
  • State Street Global Advisors
  • VanEck
  • Vanguard

Most Innovative ETF Issuer: Elkhorn Investments

Awarded to the ETF provider that launched the most innovative and groundbreaking group of ETFs in 2016.

Elkhorn Investments may have launched its first ETF in 2015, but there’s a wealth of experience behind the issuer of 15 ETFs with a combined $165 million in assets under management. Its founder Ben Fulton is one of the pioneers in the ETF space, having led PowerShares as managing director of global ETFs before leaving after eight years. He started Elkhorn, and in 2016, launched two smart-beta commodity ETFs that skip the K-1; the first high-quality preferred ETF; a suite of midcap sector funds; and the first-ever factor rotation ETF. The firm is proving that innovation isn't dead, and that small companies can in fact make a difference.

Finalists included:

  • Global X
  • iShares
  • J.P. Morgan
  • PureFunds
  • SSGA

Best New ETF Issuer: Nuveen

Awarded to the new ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, investor support and innovation. Issuers must have launched their first ETF in 2016.

Nuveen launched its first ETF back in September, the interesting NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG), and has proceeded to launch six more in the intervening time. The firm turned to ETF veteran Martin Kremenstein to lead it into the ETF space after he left Deutsche Bank’s ETF business, proving Nuveen wanted to get serious, but as part of TIAA-CREF, one of the largest asset managers in the world, Nuveen also has a wide range of capabilities and resources to draw from beyond its own niche in the larger firm. The issuer has been cherry-picking its product launches, aiming to enter spaces it knows come with institutional demand, including the ESG space. As a result, Nuveen’s newborn ETF lineup has attracted nearly $100 million in assets in less than six months.

Finalists included:

  • ACSI Funds
  • Aptus
  • OppenheimerFunds
  • REX Shares


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