Cinthia Murphy on What Makes the ETF Industry Unique

Cinthia Murphy on What Makes the ETF Industry Unique

The head of research for ETF Think Tank spoke with about how being a woman in finance is an asset.

Finance Reporter
Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: James Rubin

Cinthia Murphy makes a convincing case that the ETF industry is not just about numbers and product launches, but part of an intrepid movement. 

"It really felt like we were out there fighting a cause," she said of early industry events. 

Murphy is now the head of research and content at ETF Think Tank, which is part of Tidal Financial Group. Before joining ETF Think Tank, she was a reporter at Dow Jones and an editor at 

I spoke to her last week about how she has seen the ETF industry evolve, what advice she would give to young people looking to climb the ranks, and how being a woman is an asset in finance. 

This Q&A is part of a series is doing over the course of March profiling the top women to watch in ETFs. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Could you share a little bit about how you got into finance journalism?

Murphy: I landed in financial journalism somewhat accidentally, but I fell in love with it quickly. My first job out of school was as a foreign correspondent covering equities in Brazil. What I loved about it was the connection between the story of companies and stocks and the people, the consumers everyday lives. From there, I went to cover commodity futures markets at the Chicago Board of Trade. You can imagine the energy and the excitement of being there on the trading— it was magic. For me, there was no going back. Eventually, I landed in the ETF [field], and it's been a phenomenal industry to be in. Financial journalism for me has been really rewarding because it's about telling the story of building financial security and wealth more so than the story of markets. It’s a human story at heart, which I love. 

What is your favorite part about your work you do with ETF Think Tank now?

What I love about what I'm doing now is that it is still storytelling, which is what I love to do. But I do less of the day-to-day news, and I get to do more of putting that into context. I also have a peek at how ETFs come to be and the product development side of it. So, it's been a little bit of a different angle of seeing how things are done behind the scenes. I've loved that I've learned a lot.

What has changed about the ETF industry since you started covering it? 

When I first started in the ETF [industry], which was back in about 2009, it felt like a grassroots cause. We would go to these events, and everybody was invested in the story: that ETFs were a better investment vehicle, and they were the wrapper for the future. It really felt like we were out there fighting a cause. 

The industry has grown so much in the last almost 15 years and it never actually lost to me a little bit of this flavor. I think the ETF industry is special in that way. Time and time again, I've seen competitors help each other out. It’s really this collaborative competition that has allowed the industry to grow in such a healthy way. 

How do you think being a woman has been an asset in your career? 

I’ve learned over the years that as women, we do bring a different way of looking at things and tackling problems. We bring a lot of heart to brain questions, which is super important in this industry. On the surface it looks like it’s all about markets and data and products, but in truth, it’s really about money impacting or empowering people’s lives. At least for me, we bring heart into the conversation, and that can be powerful. 

What advice would you give for women and young people looking to advance in the industry?

It’s important to be open to opportunities even if they don't immediately look like your dream position. The ETF industry is supportive, and it takes care of its own. So, if you're ready to learn, ready to work, and ready to be a team player, you will find that opportunities show up. The tech industry is built on an innovation mindset, so be open to what’s next and be confident you have what it takes. 

Contact Lucy Brewster at [email protected]

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays,’s flagship podcast. She previously was a finance fellow at Fortune Magazine where she covered markets, investment strategy, and venture capital. She has also been a freelancer writer at the publication Mergers & Acquisitions and a research fellow at the Historic Hudson Valley. 

She graduated from Vassar College in 2022 with a degree in History and was an editor of The Miscellany News, the college's award winning student run newspaper. 

Lucy lives in Brooklyn, NY, and in her free time she loves to run and find new recipes to cook.