And The 2016 Awards Winners Are …

March 30, 2017

Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors: Charles Schwab

Awarded to the online brokerage offering the best package for ETF-focused investors. This award considers commission-free trading options, education materials, supporting services and other factors.

For the second year in a row, Charles Schwab has come out on top in the race for this award. However, it’s worth noting that just a few years ago, Schwab wasn’t a significant player in the ETF space. The firm’s soup-to-nuts approach to the ETF market includes its role as an issuer; robo advisor; advisor platform; and marketplace. It’s even started trying to crack open the retirement market, with its All-ETF 401(k) offering. Whichever way the ETF market develops in the coming decade, expect Schwab to be right there in front.

Finalists included:

  • Fidelity
  • Interactive Brokers
  • TD Ameritrade

Best ETF Offering: Wire House: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Awarded to the wire house that offer its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

Merrill’s well-rounded offering of services includes its highly competitive Merrill Edge platform and top-notch research. That knowledge is also leveraged by 14,000 advisors who work with investors on financial planning and investment programs.

Finalists included:

  • Morgan Stanley
  • UBS

Best ETF Offering: Independent Regional Broker-Dealer: Raymond James

Awarded to the independent broker-dealer offering its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

In the ETF space, the company’s multifaceted advisory business draws attention. “RayJay” hosts advisors and brokers using pretty much any model—from independent registered investment advisors to commission-based employee brokers. It also offers a commission-free ETF trading platform, a well-regarded model portfolio process and backup from RayJay luminaries Scott Brown and Jeff Saut. Further, its fee-only ETF platform, Freedom ETF, pairs the simplicity of an ETF-based model portfolio platform with flesh-and-blood advisors for a low-cost, high-touch service.

Finalists included:

  • LPL

Best ETF Research Paper: S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (SPIVA)

Awarded to the published paper from 2016 that most increased our understanding of how ETFs and/or index-based investments affect investor outcomes, whether in portfolios, markets or broader economic context.

This year’s winner is "S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (SPIVA)"

For the past 15 years, the S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (the “SPIVA Scorecard”) has served as the scorekeeper of the indexing-versus-active debate. Almost everyone knows how this report will conclude: Active management doesn’t perform as well as indexing. In this category, it could be easy to overlook the SPIVA Scorecard, since its results are a broken record that plays back the same results twice a year. But it provides an invaluable service when it comes to truly helping investors make the best decisions.

Finalists included:

  • "ETFs: A Roadmap to Growth" by Nigel Brashaw et al.
  • “ETFs: Catalyst or Mirage for Market Liquidity?” by Vincent Denoiseux and Pierre Debru
  • “Minimum Volatility Indexes: Dispelling the Myths” by Dr. Andrew Ang and Dr. Ananth Madhavan
  • “The New Neutral: The Long-Term Case for Currency Hedging” by Robert Bush and Abby Woodham


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