And The 2017 Awards Winners Are …

March 22, 2018

The fifth annual Awards Thursday night in New York City honored products, people and companies that made a difference in the ETF industry in 2017. The more than 30 categories recognize everything from new funds to established products, as well as the issuers, service providers and end users who make the industry go round.

This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to WisdomTree executive vice president and head of WisdomTree Europe David Abner, who joined the firm in 2008 from Bear Stearns and has been a driving force for investor education on ETFs and how to trade them.

“Not long after I joined WisdomTree, I realized that investors—mostly institutions and advisors—were starting to use the products more, but really didn’t understand how the products were priced, why spreads had a particular width and where ETF liquidity came from,” Abner said. And from that realization grew his book, “The ETF Handbook,” which is currently entering its third edition.

Abner faced off against some of the best-known names in the industry, including:

  • David Blitzer, S&P Dow Jones Indices
  • Reggie Browne, Cantor Fitzgerald
  • Henry Fernandez, MSCI
  • JoAnne Hill, CboeVest


ETF of the Year: ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)

Awarded to the ETF that has done the most to improve investor opportunities and outcomes in 2017, by providing access to interesting areas of the market, lowering costs, delivering new exposures or otherwise creating better results for investors.

Actively managed ARKK focuses on capturing the performance of companies involved in “disruptive innovation.” The fund, which launched in the last quarter of 2014, was up more than 87% last year, a rather stunning return that was mostly unrivaled. ARKK’s performance in 2017 was at least partially driven by its allocation to the Bitcoin Investment Trust and the notorious “FANG” stocks (Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Google/Alphabet) that have recently had so much influence on the direction of the U.S. stock market.

Finalists included:

  • iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV)
  • SPDR Portfolio Total Stock Market ETF (SPTM)
  • U.S. Tax Reform Fund (TAXR)
  • WisdomTree Emerging Markets ex-State-Owned Enterprises Fund (XSOE)
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)


Best New ETF: VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB)

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2017.

GRNB was the first ESG bond ETF to come to market. It also remains the only one with global scope. Unlike the other four ESG bond ETFs, which track U.S. debt, GRNB’s portfolio holds bonds from about 20 countries. These include established renewable energy powerhouses, like France and Germany, as well as up-and-comers, like China and Mexico. Inside its portfolio are roughly 100 bonds linked to specific climate-mitigation projects around the world. All of the bonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international nonprofit that evaluates bonds and their issuers for their green credentials. GRNB may hold corporate as well as government issues.

Finalists included: 

  • USCF SummerHaven SHPEI Index Fund/USCF SummerHaven SHPEN Index Fund (BUY/BUYN)
  • Principal Active Global Dividend Income ETF (GDVD)
  • iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF (IDEV)
  • NuShares ESG U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUBD)
  • Vanguard Total Corporate Bond ETF (VTC)


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