Can FAs Build Portfolios Based on Disruptive Tech?
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Can FAs Build Portfolios Based on Disruptive Tech?

Fresh from its first ETF launch, a ETF startup's chief envisions a broader set of offerings.

"We want to offer a toolbox for an advisor to build a full model portfolio based on disruptive technology," Matt Bielski, founder and CEO of New York City-based Defiance ETFs [profile], tells MFWire.

Earlier this month the Defiance team unveiled their first fund, the Defiance Future Tech ETF (AUGR on the NYSE). That fund focuses on investing opportunities around augmented reality and virtual reality, and Bielski confirms that they've also filed for an ETF focused on quantum computing. Index specialist BlueStar teamed up with Defiance to power both ETFs, while Penserra Capital Management subadvises.

The Defiance team currently includes four employees and two advisors, and yesterday Bielski confirmed the additions of BlackRock iShares veteran Paul Dellaquila as global head of ETFs and Tom Bowles as director of research.

The idea at Defiance, Bielski says, is to "be the beta exposures for disruptive technology sectors."

"Smart beta's very saturated," Bielski says. "We're not going to compete there."

He says he has "pretty aggressive growth planned", and he wants Defiance "to disrupt the ETF landscape." The firm is inspired by the 2008 film Defiance, based on a true story about two Jewish brothers resisting the Nazis in Belarus in World War II: one of those brothers, Zus Bielski (portayed by Liev Schreiber), was Bielski's grandfather.

Bielski worked at ProShares, BlackRock, and then Direxion before starting up Defiance this year. He is an alumnus of Binghampton University, Johns Hopkins, and Bar-Ilan University.

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