And The 2017 Awards Winners Are …

And The 2017 Awards Winners Are …

Learn why the winners were selected and who the finalists were.
Reviewed by: Staff
Edited by: Staff

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)


Most Innovative New ETF: USCF SummerHaven SHPEI Index Fund (BUY)/USCF SummerHaven SHPEN Index Fund (BUYN)

Awarded to the most groundbreaking and disruptive ETF launched in 2017. This is an ETF that is pushing the envelope in terms of what kinds of exposures can be packaged into an ETF.

The winners of the Most Innovative New ETF Award for 2017, BUY and BUYN, are two ETFs that aim to provide investors with private-equitylike exposure at a reasonable cost. Importantly, neither ETF actually invests in private equity funds or the equity of private companies. There are already several ETFs that hold shares of publicly traded private equity firms but none that attempt to buy shares of public companies that possess characteristics similar to those that private equity firms typically invest in. Those characteristics include low EV/EBITDA ratios; low net equity issuance; low market cap; and moderate profitability. BUY touches on all industries, while BUYN focuses on the natural resources industry.

Finalists included:

  • GraniteShares Bloomberg Commodity Broad Strategy No K-1 ETF (COMB)
  • Goldman Sachs Access Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (GIGB)
  • Republican Policies Fund/Democratic Policies Fund (GOP/DEMS)
  • VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB)
  • QuantX Dynamic Beta US Equity ETF (XUSA)


Best New U.S. Equity ETF: USCF SummerHaven SHPEI Index Fund (BUY)/USCF SummerHaven SHPEN Index Fund (BUYN) and Schwab 1000 Index ETF (SCHK)

Awarded to the most important U.S. equity ETF launched in 2017.

The awards committee couldn’t decide which new U.S. equity ETF was the best of 2017, resulting in a rare tie between two (or three, depending how you count it) funds. The winners couldn’t be any more different. BUY and BUYN aim to deliver private-equitylike exposure at a cost that’s cheaper than typical private equity investments. In contrast, SCHK is a vanilla fund that simply holds 1,000 of the largest and most liquid U.S. stocks, a combination of large-caps and midcaps. Where SCHK shines is its extraordinarily low expense ratio, making it one of the cheapest funds in the ETF universe.

Finalists included:

  • Republican Policies Fund/Democratic Policies Fund (GOP/DEMS)
  • Goldman Sachs Equal Weight U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (GSEW)
  • Oppenheimer Russell 1000 Dynamic Multifactor ETF (OMFL)
  • PowerShares PureBeta MSCI USA Portfolio (PBUS)


Best New International/Global Equity ETF: iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF (IDEV)

Awarded to the most important international or global equity ETF launched in 2017. Having come to market last March, the addition to iShares’ Core lineup has already grown to more than $915 million in total assets in less than 12 months. IDEV’s broad appeal as a one-stop-shop portfolio of all developed-market equities ex-U.S. for only 0.07% in fees is evident. Consider that some of its well-established competition has a massive following, such as the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA), with $72 billion in total assets. Like its competitors, IDEV is a vanilla, massive portfolio of almost 1,300 securities covering about 99% of developed-market ex.-U.S. market cap. It’s a simple and effective single-ticker solution to a vast universe of equities.

Finalists included:

  • Arrow DWA Country Rotation ETF (DWCR)
  • Davis Select Worldwide ETF (DWLD)
  • Principal Active Global Dividend Income ETF (GDVD)
  • PowerShares PureBeta FTSE Developed ex-North America Portfolio (PBDM)
  • PowerShares PureBeta FTSE Emerging Markets Portfolio (PBEE)


Best New U.S. Fixed-Income ETF: PowerShares Treasury Collateral Portfolio (CLTL)

Awarded to the most important fixed-income ETF launched in 2017.

CLTL tracks an index of ultra-short-term U.S. Treasury debt that provides the fund with a high level of underlying liquidity. In fact, the ETF’s liquidity is so deep it offers same-day settlement and delivery creation/redemption services—and all at the price of just 0.08%. The fund is designed for institutional usage or other large investors looking for a collateral or liquidity-management vehicle.

Finalists included:

  • Goldman Sachs Access Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (GIGB)
  • NuShares ESG U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUBD)
  • Global X U.S. Preferred ETF (PFFD)
  • Vanguard Total Corporate Bond ETF (VTC)


Best New International/Global Fixed-Income ETF: JPMorgan Global Bond Opportunities ETF (JPGB)

Awarded to the most important international or global fixed-income ETF launched in 2017.

The best among the nine global fixed-income newcomers launched last year is the JPMorgan Global Bond Opportunities ETF (JPGB). JPGB is an unconstrained, go-anywhere bond portfolio that actively looks for diversification and higher yields across more than 50 countries and some 15 different fixed-income segments. JPGB is J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s first active fixed-income ETF. The fund leverages the firm’s fixed-income expertise with a flexible approach that can be tactical from a duration, country and sector perspective depending on the market environment. While unconstrained, JPGB looks to keep at least 40% of the mix outside the U.S.

Finalists included:

  • Columbia Diversified Fixed Income Allocation ETF (DIAL)
  • First Trust TCW Opportunistic Fixed Income ETF (FIXD)
  • VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB)
  • IQ S&P High Yield Low Volatility Bond ETF (HYLV)


Best New Commodity ETF: ETFS Bloomberg All Commodity Strategy K-1 Free ETF (BCI)

Awarded to the most important commodity ETF launched in 2017.

Launches in the commodity ETF space have been few and far between over the last few years, but as the asset class began coming back into favor in 2016 and 2017, issuers set in motion new products, some with a twist. The ETFS Bloomberg All Commodity Strategy K-1 Free ETF (BCI) is this year’s winner of Best New Commodity ETF. While it’s a fund tracking an index, the Bloomberg Commodity Index, it also actively manages the fund’s collateral. Think of it as an index-tracking fund with an active overlay. BCI’s active manager invests the fund’s collateral in cash and short-term, highly rated corporate and government debt. BCI is organized as an open-ended ETF, rather than a commodity pool, so taxable investors pay the usual long- and short-term capital gains rates on sale and avoid receiving an annual K-1 tax form. The fund manages this feat by gaining its commodity exposure through a wholly owned Cayman Islands subsidiary.

Finalists included:

  • GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR)
  • GraniteShares Bloomberg Commodity Broad Strategy No K-1 ETF (COMB)
  • GraniteShares S&P GSCI Commodity Broad Strategy No K-1 ETF (COMG)
  • SPDR Long Dollar Gold Trust (GLDW)


Best New Alternatives ETF: JPMorgan Managed Futures ETF (JPMF)

Awarded to the most important alternatives ETF launched in 2017.

JPMF isn’t the only—or even the first—managed futures ETF, but it is a better mousetrap in a few key ways. To start, JPMF offers exposure to the most assets of any managed futures ETF: It can hold derivatives on equities, bonds, commodities and currencies. Other managed futures ETFs omit one or more of these asset classes. JPMF’s portfolio managers also have fewer restrictions in how they may implement these contracts. Within each asset class, JPMF may take positions in contracts of any expiry or segment to create net-long, net-short or neutral exposure. Best of all, JPMF is the cheapest-in-class: Its expense ratio clocks in at 0.59%, compared with 0.65% for the next-cheapest product.

Finalists included:

  • Anfield Capital Diversified Alternatives ETF (DALT)
  • JPMorgan Event Driven ETF (JPED)
  • QuantX Risk Managed Real Return ETF (QXRR)
  • QuantX Risk Managed Multi-Asset Total Return ETF (QXTR)


Best New Asset Allocation ETF: WisdomTree Balanced Income Fund (WBAL)

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2017 that combines exposure to multiple asset classes.

WBAL is an ETF of ETFs designed to offer a 60/40 mix of global equities and fixed income. The equity part of the portfolio comprises developed and emerging market ETFs selected for higher yield, while the fixed-income allocation is diversified across sectors and credit, with a focus on duration. Ultimately, the mix, which tracks a proprietary WisdomTree index and is rebalanced annually, looks to capture income-generating assets globally in one ticker.

Finalists included:

  • ClearShares OCIO ETF (OCIO)
  • QuantX Risk Managed Multi-Asset Income ETF (QXMI)
  • Cambria Tail Risk ETF (TAIL)


Best New Smart Beta or Factor ETF: Oppenheimer Russell 1000 Dynamic Multifactor ETF (OMFL)

Awarded to the most important new ETF launched in 2017, regardless of asset class, that uses a quantitative, research-driven approach to attempt to deliver superior long-term risk-adjusted returns.

OMFL tracks an index derived from the Russell 1000. The methodology offers exposure to the value, momentum, quality, low-volatility and size factors, but with a twist. OMFL’s methodology provides dynamic factor exposure, adjusting the importance it places on different factors based on changes in macroeconomic conditions. It offers different combinations of factor exposure based on whether the economy and market are in an expansion, slowdown, contraction or recovery phase. For example, while in a contraction, the quality factor would be given more weight, while the value factor would be emphasized more in a recovery. Although OppenheimerFunds has long offered smart-beta ETFs, it was among the last issuers to roll out its own family of factor and multifactor ETFs, and it made sure it did so in a differentiated way and at a reasonable price that’s in line with the costs of competing funds.

  • Arrow DWA Country Rotation ETF (DWCR)
  • Goldman Sachs Access Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (GIGB)
  • NuShares Enhanced Yield 1-5 Year U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUSA)
  • Alpha Architect Value Momentum Trend ETF (VMOT)
  • QuantX Dynamic Beta US Equity ETF (XUSA)


Best New Active ETF: AI Powered Equity ETF (AIEQ)

Awarded to the most important new actively managed ETF launched in 2017, regardless of asset class.

AIEQ is the first actively managed ETF to harness the power of artificial intelligence throughout the investment process. AIEQ uses a quantitative proprietary model from EquBot that runs on IBM’s Watson platform. The supercomputer helps the fund managers analyze millions of pieces of data, including regulatory filings, quarterly releases, news articles and social media postings—something that’d be impossible for humans to do manually. Using this data, the managers then choose 30-70 stocks to hold based on upside potential and correlations with each other. While AIEQ relies heavily on its quantitative models, it’s still an actively managed fund, and so the fund managers ultimately decide what stocks go into the portfolio. AIEQ’s futuristic approach to investing prompted the awards committee to select it as the best new active ETF of 2017.

Finalists included:

  • Principal Active Global Dividend Income ETF (GDVD)
  • Republican Policies Fund/Democratic Policies Fund (GOP/DEMS)
  • JPMorgan Global Bond Opportunities ETF (JPGB)
  • IQ Mackay Shields Municipal Insured ETF (MMIN)
  • U.S. Tax Reform Fund (TAXR)


Thematic ETF of the Year: Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ)

Awarded to the most important “thematic” ETF of 2017, as measured by its ability to capture important macro plays that can lead to specific portfolio outcomes.

BOTZ offers exposure to a rapidly emerging technological theme of robotics and artificial intelligence around the globe. Launched in September 2016, BOTZ entered 2017 with some $5 million in assets under management, fairly normal for a three-month-old ETF. However, to say 2017 was a blockbuster year would be an understatement. Not only did the fund attract nearly $1.5 billion in new assets, BOTZ registered a whopping gain of 58% for the year. The idea of robots in the workplace and in our homes is no longer viewed as science fiction. Robotics/artificial intelligence is not only accepted as the future, but is being embraced by nearly every industry in the world. The demand is real, and the companies BOTZ offers exposure to are leading advances and profiting in the space. This is not a theme that will fade anytime soon.

Finalists included:

  • ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)
  • Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (EMQQ)
  • Oppenheimer Global ESG Revenue ETF (ESGF)
  • Republican Policies Fund/Democratic Policies Fund (GOP/DEMS)


Best New ESG ETF: VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB) & KraneShares MSCI China Environment ETF (KGRN)

Awarded to the most important ESG ETF launched in 2016.

Whereas most ESG fixed-income ETFs simply rank bonds by the ESG characteristics of the companies issuing them, GRNB allows investors to invest in specific eco-friendly corporate activities. The bonds in GRNB’s portfolio finance environmentally friendly projects such as solar installations, wind farms, zero-emissions public transportation and energy-efficient building upgrades.

KGRN, meanwhile, is the first ESG ETF specifically designed to capitalize on the Chinese clean energy boom. China is already the world’s largest and fastest-growing market for renewable energy, and the country plans to spend $360 billion by 2020 to build out its clean-energy capacity even further. The fund tracks Chinese companies of all sizes and industries, so long as they derive at least half their revenues from eco-friendly products and services.

Finalists included:

  • Inspire Global Hope ETF (BLES)
  • NuShares ESG U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUBD)
  • iShares ESG USD Corporate Bond ETF (SUSC)


ETF Issuer of the Year: Vanguard Group

Awarded to the ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, asset gathering, investor support and innovation in 2017.

Vanguard is the second-largest ETF issuer in the U.S. today, commanding more than $870 billion in U.S.-listed ETF assets. Its reputation as a steward for investor interests, however, is second to none. In 2017, the firm hit yet another milestone: 15-consecutive years of growing market share. Vanguard’s success in the ETF space is a direct result of its commitment to investor outcomes and its focus on distribution. Today Vanguard is synonymous with low cost. Among the firm’s entire lineup of ETFs, the average expense ratio is only 0.11%, or $11 per $10,000 invested, about half the industry average.

Finalists included:

  • ARK
  • Exchange Traded Concepts
  • iShares by BlackRock
  • State Street Global Advisors


Most Innovative ETF Issuer of the Year: ARK

Awarded to the ETF provider that has launched the most innovative and groundbreaking ETFs in 2017.

ARK focuses exclusively on the concept of disruptive innovation. It burst onto the ETF scene in 2014 with the rollout of a suite of four actively managed funds that all focused on various angles of the disruptive innovation theme—next-generation internet innovation, industrial innovation and genomics.

Finalists included:

  • Alpha Architect
  • EventShares
  • Exchange Traded Concepts
  • iShares by BlackRock
  • State Street Global Advisors


New ETF Issuer of the Year: GraniteShares

Awarded to the new ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, investor support and innovation.

GraniteShares is the brainchild of CEO Will Rhind, who founded the firm on the heels of a stint as the CEO of World Gold Trust Services, the sponsor behind the $35.4 billion SPDR Gold Trust (GLD). Rhind started GraniteShares with the intention of offering investors a new perspective on commodities at rock-bottom pricing. The firm attracted backing from the likes of Bain Capital, and rolled out its first funds—“no K-1” broad commodity ETFs—in May 2017.

Finalists included:

  • Davis Advisors
  • Inspire Investing
  • QuantX (Blue Sky Asset Management)
  • Sage Advisory Services
  • USAA


Index Provider of the Year: Solactive

Awarded to the index provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through index introductions, research, advisor support and more in 2017.

The winner of the Index Provider of the Year award went to one of the little guys. Solactive, a boutique indexing firm, managed to beat much larger rivals like MSCI and FTSE Russell for the award. The company has carved out a healthy niche for itself in the competitive indexing business, despite not having the name recognition of the larger firms. Solactive has more than 2,000 indices—many of them custom-made for clients—and has managed to capture the attention of the ETF industry. There are currently 40 exchange-traded funds using Solactive-branded indices, with $5.3 billion in assets under management.

Finalists included:

  • FTSE Russell
  • Kensho
  • MSCI
  • Toroso Investments

Index of the Year: EMQQ The Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce Index

Awarded to the index that has done the most to provide new ways of considering investment strategies, opportunities or ideas in 2017.

This year’s winning index underlies one of 2017’s best-performing equity funds. The $518 million Emerging Markets Internet & Ecommerce ETF (EMQQ), which tracks an index with almost the same name, was up more than 68% last year. Sure, it wasn’t the best performer, but it blew away the broad MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which was up about 37%. The index is designed to capture emerging and frontier market companies listed in the U.S. and that are engaged primarily in internet-based businesses like online shopping, e-commerce and gaming. According to the website for the fund, the index is designed to “offer investors exposure to the growth of online consumption in the developing world.”

Finalists included:

  • BlackRock High Yield Defensive Bond Index
  • FTSE OFI Dynamic Multifactor Index Series
  • MSCI China A Inclusion Index
  • Solactive Equileap Gender Equality Family of Indices
  • SummerHaven Private Equity Strategy Index


ETF Liquidity Provider of the Year: Citadel Securities

Awarded to the ETF liquidity provider (including market maker, authorized participant, agency broker, etc.) that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through education, support, services, innovation and outreach.

Liquidity providers are invisible to most retail customers, important to large advisors and absolutely essential to institutional clients. This year’s winner, Citadel Securities, is one of the behemoths of Wall Street, ranked No. 1 in market making for retail orders, and single-handedly responsible for 20% of U.S. equity volume. That footprint has translated into a full-service ETF offering in recent years.

Finalists included:

  • BAML
  • Jane Street
  • Susquehanna International Group
  • Tradeweb Markets


ETF Custodian of the Year: BNY Mellon

Awarded to the ETF custodial firm offering the best and most innovative service to clients.

“Custodian” here is really shorthand for a whole range of services provided by the firms in contention for this award, from the actual custody of underlying assets to calculating and disseminating net asset values to dealing with the nitty gritty of regulatory filings and shareholder servicing. This year’s winner has made a name for itself by essentially doing it all, and doing it well. BNY Mellon is the custodian for roughly a third of all of the ETFs listed in the U.S., covering almost every underlying market in the world.

Finalists included:

  • Brown Brothers Harriman
  • Citi
  • State Street
  • US Bank


Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors: Charles Schwab

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

No matter what kind of investor you are, Charles Schwab has something for you. Our panelists’ pick for best online brokerage offers 250+ commission-free funds on its Schwab ETF OneSource platform. For those ETFs that aren’t free to trade, Schwab charges $4.95/trade, one of the lowest commissions in the business.

Finalists included:

  • Fidelity
  • Interactive Brokers
  • TD Ameritrade


Best ETF Platform: Bloomberg

Awarded to the wirehouse, broker-dealer or other service provider that offers its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

When we think of what a “platform” is in the context of ETF investing, it can be a bit difficult to define. It hardly matters, however, because by practically any definition, Bloomberg would fit. Sophisticated ETF investors use Bloomberg for everything from research, news, portfolio management and trading to risk analysis and performance attribution.

Finalists included:

  • Merrill Lynch
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Raymond James
  • TD Ameritrade


Best ETF Issuer Website: iShares by BlackRock

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website of an ETF issuer.

When it comes to ETF issuer websites, iShares’ dominance goes unchallenged for yet another awards season. That’s right: It’s another “best” prize for iShares’ website this year. It’s won the best issuer website award every year since the awards began in 2014. The firm’s unparalleled excellence in delivering a wealth of research, data and analytics, investment tools and fund reports to investors everywhere remains an industry standard.

Finalists included:

  • Alpha Architect
  • Global X
  • VanEck
  • WisdomTree


Best Index Provider Website: S&P Dow Jones Indices

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an index provider.

S&P Dow Jones Indices is a genuinely useful omnibus of information, both on its own indexes and the

investment industry as a whole. Each of the nearly 5,000 indexes that S&P Dow Jones offers has its own landing page, complete with easy-to-use performance widgets; easy-to-find fact sheets and methodologies; and lists of related news and indexes in the same family. If an index has ETFs, futures or options associated with it, then those are listed on the page, too.

Finalists included:

  • Alpha Architect
  • MSCI
  • WisdomTree


Best ETF Issuer Capital Markets Desk: iShares by BlackRock

Awarded to the ETF issuer providing the most useful support to advisors for ETF trading.

Capital markets desks work with market makers and authorized participants to help ensure good on-screen liquidity. They also work with portfolio managers to help understand and explain underlying liquidity, and importantly, they work with actual investors to help them make smart trades. BlackRock’s capital markets desk wins kudos from the nominators on each front. Comments mentioned BlackRock’s commitment to the entire trading experience, not simply improving the execution of a specific iShares fund.

Finalists included:

  • Deutsche Asset Management
  • State Street Global Advisors
  • Vanguard Group
  • WisdomTree


ETF Strategist of the Year: 3EDGE Asset Management

Awarded to the ETF strategist or model portfolio provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes in 2017.

Founded by industry veteran Steve Cucchiaro just two years ago, 3EDGE has quickly become a significant player in the ETF strategist space. At 3EDGE, he’s reinvented the model, leaning hard on quantitative finance to bring institutional-caliber portfolios to advisors. At the core of the approach is a reliance on “multiplayer game theory”—a simulation process that attempts to model what different actors in the markets will do in difference scenarios, whether they’re central banks, corporations or governments. 3EDGE’s unique approach to modeling capital markets leads to portfolios with a significant eye toward protection from tail-risk events, while still looking to provide alpha.

Finalists included:

  • iShares by BlackRock
  • CLS Investments
  • Newfound Research
  • Northern Trust Asset Management
  • Richard Bernstein Advisors


ETF Law Firm of the Year: Dechert LLP

Awarded annually to the law firm that has done the most to push the ETF industry forward, including driving new and innovative products through the Securities and Exchange Commission, advocating for the industry and the rights of investors, and improving outcomes for investors.

Dechert LLP split the award for ETF law firm of the year for 2016 with another firm, but this year it’s truly second to none. The firm’s financial services group has more than 30 ETF lawyers serving more than 20 ETF sponsors, and at a broader level, the firm focuses on financial services and corporate law in general, serving 18 out of 20 of the world’s top global asset managers. The firm, which has been involved in the ETF industry since 2005 and has 28 offices located across the globe, works closely with clients throughout the process of developing and launching an ETF. The firm stands out for its depth of practical expertise with regard to regulatory issues and for the depth of its practice.

  • Chapman and Cutler
  • K&L Gates
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Stradley Ronon


ETF Investor of the Year: CLS Investments

Awarded to a financial advisor, advisor team or institutional investor that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios in an innovative way.

The ETF Investor of the Year award is a new one designed to go to the financial advisor, advisor team or institutional investor using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios in an innovative way. For that reason, ETF strategist CLS has been selected as the first winner. The Omaha firm’s “Risk Budgeting Methodology” drives its investment approach, and is based on the importance of accepting a certain level of risk; of measuring risk; and of combining risk management with asset allocation. It’s an approach that focuses on accumulation, income, protection and tax management—all areas uniquely suitable for an ETF-based portfolio.

Finalists included:

  • ClearRock Capital
  • FIS Group
  • Heck Capital Advisors
  • Ritholtz Wealth Management


ETF Ticker of the Year: Point Bridge GOP Stock Tracker ETF (MAGA)

Awarded to the ETF with the best new ETF ticker. The ETF must have launched in 2017 to qualify.

No matter your political persuasion, you have to admit that Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” (MAGA for short) rolled right off the tongue, encapsulated a powerful message and resonated with millions of people. The slogan was plastered on countless red hats and may have played a large part in Trump’s surprising election win in November 2016. The fund’s objective is purely political, but in its five months on the market, MAGA has attracted $40 million from investors who want to show solidarity with the Republican party.

Finalists included:

  • ProSports Sponsors ETF (FANZ)
  • Republican Policies Fund/Democratic Policies Fund (GOP/DEMS)
  • Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE)
  • Cambria Tail Risk ETF (TAIL)


2017 People’s Choice Award: USCF SummerHaven SHPEI Index Fund (BUY)

The winner of the People’s Choices Award was selected at the 2018 Inside ETFs conference in Hollywood, Florida.

BUY, the winner of multiple other awards this year, no doubt struck a chord with investors due to the unique exposure it offers. In targeting companies that fit the profile of corporations purchased by private equity firms, it offered a creative way to get exposure to an asset class usually not accessible for the average investor. And it does so at the relatively low price of 95 basis points. 

Finalists included:

  • Davis Select Worldwide ETF (DWLD)
  • Goldman Sachs Access Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (GIGB)
  • iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF (IDEV)
  • iShares Edge Investment Grade Enhanced Bond ETF (IGEB)
  • VanEck Vectors  NDR CMG Long/Flat Allocation ETF (LFEQ)
  • Vanguard Total Corporate Bond ETF (VTC)


Methodology Award winners are selected in a three-part process designed to leverage the insights and opinions of leaders throughout the ETF industry.

Step 1

The awards process began with an open nomination period running from Dec. 4, 2017, through Jan. 2, 2018. We received hundreds of nominations from participants in all corners of the ETF space.

Step 2

Following the open nominations process, the Awards Nominating Committee—made up of senior leaders at, Inside ETFs and FactSet—voted to select up to five finalists in each category. Votes were tallied on a majority basis. The members of the 2017 Nominating Committee were:

  • Matt Hougan, CEO, Inside ETFs (Chair)
  • Paul Britt, Senior Analyst, FactSet
  • Elisabeth Kashner, Director of ETF Research, FactSet
  • Dave Nadig, Managing Director,
  • Drew Voros, Editor-in-Chief,

Step 3

Winners from these finalists were selected by a majority vote of the Awards Selection Committee, a group of independent ETF experts. Committee members recused themselves from voting in any category in which they or their firms appeared as finalists. Ties were decided where possible with head-to-head runoff votes. The members of the 2017 Awards Selection Committee were:

  • Kim Arthur, Main Management
  • Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Intelligence
  • Ben Blaisdell, US Trust
  • Rob Glownia, RiverFront
  • Tom Lydon, ETFtrends
  • Phil Mackintosh, Virtu
  • Tyler Mordy, Forstrong Global Asset Management
  • Jason Nicastro, LPL Financial
  • Todd Rosenbluth, CFRA
  • Jim Wiandt, Industry Expert

Voting was completed by Jan. 20, 2018, but results were kept secret until their announcement at the U.S. Awards Dinner on March 22, 2018. is the single source for ETF intelligence. We provide real-time ETF news and analysis to educate investors and drive financial knowledge in the space. Our personalized and accurate information, alongside industry-leading financial tools, are depended upon to develop winning investment and financial decisions. At, we strive to serve both the individual investor as well as the professional financial advisor to educate and grow the ETF community.