Anna Paglia on What Drew Her into ETFs

Paglia helped grow Invesco's ETF platform to $460 billion.

LucyBrewster310x310
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Finance Reporter
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Reviewed by: Kent Thune
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Edited by: Ron Day

Anna Paglia's road to being a titan in the ETF industry started unlike other executives. As a lawyer in Italy, she switched to pursuing finance full time after being infatuated with the power of the ETF vehicle. 

"I was fascinated by the fact that even an investor of modest means like my father, who was going month to month despite working hard, could benefit from immediate access to financial markets and the compounding effect of investments and savings," she explained of her first interest in ETFs. 

As the State Street Global Advisors’ executive vice president and chief business officer, Paglia is responsible for spearheading the firm’s global ETFs and index fund strategy. In her previous role as global head of ETFs at Invesco, she helped grow the firm’s portfolio to $460 billion in 350 ETF products. 

This conversation is part of an ongoing series at etf.com, highlighting the top women to watch in ETFs. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Etf.com: What about a career in finance sparked your interest?

Paglia: When I entered the workforce, I was not looking for a career in Finance. Luckily enough, Finance found me. While learning about IPOs, hedge funds and collective investments as a first-year associate in an Italian law firm, I became immediately attracted to mutual funds, and ETFs specifically, because of their ability to democratize investments. At that time, access to financial markets seemed limited to the wealthy segment of the population. When I stumbled across ETFs, which were novel and unappreciated back then, I was fascinated by the fact that even an investor of modest means like my father, who was going month to month despite working hard, could benefit from immediate access to financial markets and the compounding effect of investments and savings. I made it my mission to contribute to the industry in any way I could.

What advice would you give to other women seeking a career in the ETF industry and finance as a whole?

Working in the financial industry is not a job. This is a privilege. We make a difference in people’s life. No matter who your 'direct' client is, at the end of the value chain there is someone who is counting on you to retire, to buy a dream home, or to send kids to college. Be intentional. Be passionate. Always keep that end investor in mind and act with absolute integrity.

How is being a woman in this industry an asset? 

I am a woman, I am an immigrant, I have an accent. I embrace my entire self and I bring my entire self to the table. Never like before diverse thinking is embraced, accepted and encouraged. I don’t see myself as a woman. I see myself as a leader, who is also a woman. I believe in what I do, and I wake up every day thinking that I can actually make a difference. Your passion is your asset.

What do you consider the biggest “wins” of your career? 

I could list promotions, AUM growth, industry accolades etc. Truth be told, my biggest wins are: My husband (who is always there to help me further my career and lessen the load), my two beautiful kids and the fact that when I go home, I am not 'Anna Paglia' but I am 'Mom – What’s for dinner?' or 'Mom – I broke your iPad', and my family in Italy.

Contact Lucy Brewster at [email protected]

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at etf.com covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts etf.com webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’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.