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Friday, December 10, 2004

ETF Creator Dies

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Nathan Most, the American Stock Exchange executive most responsible for the exchange-traded mutual fund. died last week at age 90. His passing was announced even as Barclays announced assets in its iShares ETFs surpassed $100 billion for the first time.

Most first imagined ETFs when he was 73 and spent six years designing the final product for the American exchange. The first product based on his idea where the Standard & Poor's Depository Receipt (SPDRs) that started trading in 1993. Initially, SPDRs and other ETFs were primarily used by institutional investors to hedge their exposure to the stock market.

Most described those efforts in the Spring 2000 edition of the Journal of Global Financial Markets.

In the late 1990s, Most helped Barclays Global Investors with its launch of a broad family of iShares funds that target retail investors and financial advisors. BGI's iShare's debuted in May of 2000 and now hold more than $107 billion in assets, according to the San Francisco-based firm. Based on net inflows in 2004 iShares Funds are the third fastest growing fund family in the United States, according to Financial Research Corp. So far this year they have taken in nearly $40 billion in net new assets and accounted for 82 percent of ETF net new assets.

For the first time in 2004 the majority of iShares purchasers were retail investors buying directly or through a financial advisor. In past years institutions accounted for the majority of iShares purchases.

Lee Kranefuss, CEO of BGI's Intermediary and ETF Business, said that the quick growth of the iShares family reflects on BGI's leveraging its expertise in index management for pension plans to a broader group of investors.

Most died of heart failure in his San Mateo, California home, according to the New York Times. He was born in Los Angeles on March 22, 1914. Later he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles before conducted acoustical research and holding a variety of jobs in the commodities business. He joined the American Stock Exchange in 1977.  

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