ETF Movers & Shakers: Mick McLaughlin

Meet the guy who drove the Deutsche X-trackers to their best year ever.

Reviewed by: John Swolfs
Edited by: John Swolfs
[This is part of an 11-part series we will be publishing each weekday until it is complete. The ETF Movers & Shakers feature appears in the March edition of ETF Report: Previously published: Mark Makepeace; Jeffrey Gundlach; Michael Crinieri; Reggie Browne; Nadig & Balchunas]

Movers and ShakersMick McLaughlin

The ETF industry was built on the backs of early adopters and those with the vision to see the future of investing. At the forefront of that was Deutsche Asset Management's Mick McLaughlin. With over 15 years of ETF experience, he has seen it all, from the launch of index-based ETFs to flash crashes, fee wars and the rise of smart beta.

It is his ability to sniff out an opportunity that has made McLaughlin one of the ETF industry's brightest and most well-respected sales leaders. Often choosing to zig when others zag, he has a keen ability to position his team, products and firm at the forefront of the latest market trends.

Case in point? The recent success of the Deutsche X-trackers. Among established firms, Deutsche Asset Management was the fastest-growing ETF company in 2015, pulling in more than $16 billion in net flows across a wide-range of innovative products. The inflows vaulted Deutsche Asset Manageement from an after-ran in the U.S. ETF market to a top-10 provider, and the firm has continued to grow in 2016.

While some might argue that Deutsche Asset Management's slate of China A-Share ETFs and currency-hedged products were simply the right product at the right time, industry experts disagree. Deutsche Asset Management faced stiff competition from both WisdomTree and BlackRock in the currency-hedged space and emerged triumphant. The consensus has been that its hard-charging sales team, led by McLaughlin, made the difference.

"We certainly were well positioned to be in the area of the market offering a lot of traction and momentum (currency hedging), but the real driver for us was the talent that we have on our team and the approach we took to help clients recognize and capitalize on opportunities," McLaughlin said in reference to Deutsche Asset Management's successful year in ETFs.

McLaughlin's success at Deutsche Asset Management could be dismissed if not for his incredible track record. He was a leader at Barclays Global Investors, helping to drive iShares to the top of the food chain and to create the industry giant it is today. Before that, he was an early sales hire at Russell, helping to lay the foundation for the smart beta boom taking place today.

Wherever McLaughlin has gone, success has followed. Colleagues call him a "client-focused ETF believer," and right now he's looking ahead to what remains of 2016.

"We intend to continue that momentum through another very focused effort in 2016. About 70% of ETF flows are still going against the top 100 ETFs, so we have to be very focused to align our area of expertise and activities to the right opportunities," he said.