And The 2018 Awards Winners Are …

March 28, 2019

Most Innovative New ETF: Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (BDRY); Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETFs (Series) (BJUL) (TIE)

Awarded to the most groundbreaking and disruptive ETF launched in 2018. This is an ETF that is pushing the envelope in terms of what kinds of exposures can be packaged into an ETF.

Innovation in ETFs can come in many forms, and in 2018, it came in the form of new and novel access from two radically different ETFs.

The Breakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (BDRY), which tracks dry bulk freight futures, now allows any investor with a brokerage account to access a key commodity market segment that, until now, has mostly been off-limits. (Dry bulk freight refers to the transportation of dry cargo such as grain and iron ore.)

Meanwhile, the Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF - July (BJUL)—the first in a series of similar ETFs—is an actively managed fund that offers access to the price return of the S&P 500, while capping gains and limiting potential losses in a so-called buffer strategy. What makes BJUL and this entire series innovative is the extensive use of FLEX options to deliver a defined outcome in a way only previously available in structured products and annuities.

Finalists included:


Best New U.S. Equity ETF: Vanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF (ESGV)

Awarded to the most important U.S. equity ETF launched in 2018.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is a snowball teetering on top of a mountain, and in 2018, Vanguard gave it a big push with the Vanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF (ESGV). ESGV offers socially responsible investing in a uniquely Vanguard package. With over 1,500 stocks, the ETF boasts broad diversification at a price point of just 0.12%, making ESGV (at the time of its launch) the cheapest ESG U.S. equity ETF on the market, and one of the cheaper total U.S. market ETFs, period.

The result is a dirt-cheap total market fund with performance nearly identical to that of the much bigger Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), but without any of the stocks that give ESG-minded investors pause. So rather than having to choose between principles and performance, investors could use ESGV as a replacement for some or all of their existing VTI allocation, headache-free. If anybody could make ESG investing go mainstream, it’s Vanguard, so we’re eager to see if ESGV lives up to that potential.

Finalists included:


Best New U.S. Fixed-Income ETF: iShares ESG U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (EAGG)

Awarded to the most important fixed-income ETF launched in 2018.

Though environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing options are increasing in the equity space, among fixed-income ETFs, they remain relatively rare. That's what makes the iShares ESG U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (EAGG) so attractive: It's an ESG take on the famous, broad-based Bloomberg Barclays U.S Aggregate Bond Index (the "Agg"). Bonds of corporations and other institutions are weighted based on their ESG score, and bonds of tobacco and weapons companies are excluded. EAGG optimizes its holdings to maintain marketlike exposure to the investment-grade bond space, giving investors the ability to support ESG causes in their fixed-income portfolio without deviating too much from their market. And it all comes at just 0.10%.

Finalists included:


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