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Ten to Watch: Deborah Fuhr

Ten to Watch: Deborah Fuhr

The ETF Filter

Investors can be forgiven if they feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of exchange traded funds. As of the end of June there were 1,478 exchange traded products in the United States with a combined $1.44 trillion in assets. Who can separate the winners from the landmines?

Enter one of the world’s leading ETF analysts, Deborah Fuhr. Last year she co-founded the independent research and consulting firm ETFGI after three years as global head of ETF research at BlackRock, the world’s largest ETF provider. Before that, she spent 11 years at Morgan Stanley where she served as head of investment strategies.

As ETFs grow in popularity and fund managers slice and dice the market ever finer, ETFGI’s own profile will rise as investors and their financial advisors seek answers on how these securities are built and how they are likely to perform.

Fuhr and her London-based firm produce impressive volumes of research—ETFGI’s monthly industry reports weigh in at 250 pages each. Additionally, the firm updates a comprehensive directory of every ETF and ETN offered worldwide each month. It’s a document known among ETF investors as “the bible.” The firm also produces fact sheets for each product and provides searchable databases on its website.

Over the years, Fuhr has been named one of Financial News’ Top 100 Women in Finance and has received Best ETF Research awards from and ETF Express. She regularly offers her insights to securities regulators, fund managers and investors around the world.

 With ETFGI, we may see the emergence of a Morningstar for the ETF world. Fuhr says her goal is to be a clearinghouse of information and education for the hottest corner of the investment business. “We just want to be the go-to source for ETFs,” she told REP.

In the past decade, assets under management have surged at an annual growth rate of nearly 29 percent as everyone, from the smallest mom and pop investors to the largest pensions and hedge funds, are drawn to ETFs’ low costs, transparency and ease of trade.

And though flows of net new money slowed slightly to $75 billion in the first half of this year, Fuhr predicts a record year for ETF fund flows as more brokerages waive commissions on ETF trades and as fund companies develop more strategies and programs.

“We’re still in the early innings in terms of [industry] growth. More people are moving to passive strategies and more people are aware of the impact of costs on their returns. There is still a huge need to be educated with independent, unbiased information on these products,” she said.

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