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Rating:Inside ETFs Conference: ETF.com Launches the Rebel Alliance Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, January 27, 2014

Inside ETFs Conference: ETF.com Launches the Rebel Alliance

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

It's rare when you encounter a conference where they post an image of Jack Bogle as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader.

But it's here at the Inside ETFs Conference, hosted by the newly rebranded ETF.com (formerly known as IndexUniverse) during its seventh annual Inside ETFs conference hosted at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida from January 26th to January 29th.

Today, the first full official day of the conference, industry leaders like Vanguard CIO Tim Buckley talked to over 1,500 attendees, many of them advisors, about the pressures inflicted upon them by clients, their competitors and by ETF sponsors.

Speaking during a keynote address this morning, he noted the ongoing investor tidal flows in effect since the 2008 financial crisis. Buckley warned of the pressures by clients to ignore diversification and investment discipline to jump headlong into equities in the desperate scramble for returns.

"Double-digit returns are like the siren cries of Odysseus, luring us to forget about allocations and back into equities." He also warned of the explosion of ETF products and the need to be picky. For example, he noted that there have been over 700 ETFs launched since 2010, while another 200 ETFs have been put out of existence.

"You should be overwhelmed," he told the audience, adding later "I'd be cautious. Most people who use the word innovation are really cloaking product proliferation."

He also noted the move by institutions towards increasing alts allocations: "Whether this is a good idea, only time will tell."

Admitting that he is from Vanguard, and as such, has a profound faith in the dogma of low cost, he urged advisors to continue to take the advantage of lower fee products, and of rebalancing, which he said was one of the primary areas where advisors are able to provide value to their clients -- many of whom are loath to do any rebalancing at all.

But this was just a warmup for the main event: the Launch of the Rebel Alliance.

For the main event, Matt Hougan, president of analytics and publications and Dave Nadig of the company formerly known as IndexUniverse, announced the company's rebranding into ETF.com.

"We're serious about the rebranding, and have a 12-foot logo to prove it," joked Hougan.

Predicting an explosion of ETF assets, from the current $1.7 trillion, to more than $15 trillion in 2023, the two executives predicted that ETFs will continue to beat their mutual fund brethren due to low costs, tax advantages, diversity and now distribution resulting from the proliferation of ETF strategists and no commission trading platforms.

To tap into this boom, Hougan and Nadig announced the launch of the new ETF.com website, which went live right during their speech, which will offer free to the public ratings of over 1,500 ETF products. These ratings, written by 15 analysts and other investing experts, would drill down into the strategies, philosophies, operations of these ETFs and their sponsors. Insights will also be provided on what to do with these ETFs in portfolios. Also, every week, the company will host the Alpha Think Tank, in which Hougan will interview top investing celebrities on their thoughts about the market now.

"The ETF revolution is just getting started," Nadig told the audience. 

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