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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

SSgA Wants to Separate Fact from Fiction

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

State Street Global Advisors [profile] plans to launch an online ETF resource for individual investors, said Jim Ross, global head of ETFs. Ross mentioned the upcoming Web site, www.SPDRETFFactorFiction.com, as part of his presentation Wednesday morning at a press briefing in New York City.

This marks a broadening of SSgA's education efforts, which have historically focused on advisors.

The Web site will go live next month, according to company spokeswoman Marie McGehee. With the site, SSgA aims to shatter myths and misconceptions about ETFs.

Boston-based SSgA, the second largest ETF player, hosted a media briefing at the Michelangelo Hotel in midtown Manhattan, attracting around 20 journalists. PR firm River Communications helped put together the event.

SSgA also brought in Laura Morrison, senior vice president and head of indices and exchange-traded products at NYSE Euronext and Eric Lichtenstein, managing director at Knight Trading, to address journalists at the event. Knight is the largest market maker of ETFs in the U.S. The firm trades about 20 percent of all ETF trades in the U.S. market, according to Lichtenstein.

Ross said the the growth in the number of ETFs has averaged 28 percent per year since 2006. He also noted the drop in ETF closures this year compared to last year (52 in 2010 versus 9 so far this year).

Drivers of Asset Growth

In his presentation, Ross also talked about the future drivers of ETF asset growth in the retail, intermediary and insitutional channels.

In the retail space, adoption has hit and passed the tipping point, he said. ETFs' simplicity and value proposition will continue to drive future growth, he added.

In the intermediary realm, he pointed to the rise of what he called ETF "power users" as drivers of asset growth and product development. F-Squared Investments, Riverfront Investment Group and Windhaven Investment Management are among the examples.

Ross also noted that continued shift away from commission-based buisness models as prompting major infrastructure changes at broker-dealers.

As for the institutional space institutions broadening their usage beyond tactial applications to more strategic ones will drive growth, according to Ross. 

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