New ‘Women In ETFs’ Relies On Leadership

January 23, 2014

Four ETF industry luminaries are making it their goal to help out other women in the space.

Some of the most accomplished women in the world of ETFs are now spearheading a new organization that sets out to provide other women in the industry with opportunities to learn about the ETF industry, to grow professionally, and to share their experience.

In 2013, U.S.-listed ETFs hit a new record—$1.70 trillion in total assets—and more and more investors and advisors are turning to ETFs at a pace faster than any other segment in the financial markets today. That’s to say that the ETF universe is full of newcomers, many of whom are women.

Linda Zhang is perhaps one of the most influential women in ETFs today. She is senior head of research and portfolio manager for Windhaven. Zhang herself is relatively new to the ETF market, having joined the investment management firm just more than a year ago.

Zhang is one of the founders of the Women In ETFs organization, along with Deborah Fuhr, founder of ETF consultancy ETFGI; ProShares’ Head of Investment Strategy Joanne Hill; Michelle Mikos, ETF business development director at Invesco PowerShares; and BlackRock’s Managing Director Sue Thompson.

“When you first come into the ETF space, you don’t even know what you don’t know,” Fuhr told IndexUniverse. “We wanted to bring together women so that we can leverage our collective skills to help other women in ETFs.”

The networking organization will hold its first official gathering at IndexUniverse’s Inside ETFs conference, which begins this weekend. Women in ETFs is hosting a breakfast where 85 Broads’ owner Sallie Krawcheck will be a guest speaker, Monday, Jan. 27, at Inside ETFs, in Hollywood, Fla.

Over time, Women in ETFs will host myriad webinars and other ETF-related events, many of which will be done virtually, looking to connect with other women in the space.

The idea first came when Zhang joined Windhaven more than a year ago, and quickly realized just how uniquely different the ETF product set was, and how much there was to learn not only about the ETF structure, but also about the key players behind the funds, Fuhr said.

“In this market, you need to understand not only the products, but the people,” Fuhr said. “It requires a lot of networking to understand how the products and the industry work.”

“I thought it was a great idea having benefited from the Women’s Network at Goldman, which helped me meet people across that organization and get career advice and mentoring,” ProShares’ Hill told IndexUniverse. “The idea was such an organization could be a support network for new or existing women in the ETF industry and we see lots of opportunities for education as well.”



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