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And The 2016 ETF.com Awards Winners Are …

[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article noted that "ETFs 2020: Preparing for a New Horizon" by PricewaterhouseCoopers won the Best ETF Research Paper award. The winner was "S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (SPIVA)."]

The fourth annual ETF.com Awards Thursday night in New York City honored products, people and companies that made a difference in the ETF industry in 2016. State Street Global Advisors was the biggest winner.

The more than 30 categories recognize everything from new funds to established products, as well as the issuers, service providers and end users who make the industry go round.

State Street Global Advisor’s Global Head of ETFs Jim Ross took home the Lifetime Achievement Award. After being drafted as an accountant into the group working to bring the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) into existence, Ross stuck with the ETF space, and now, nearly 25 years later, he heads up the ETF operations at State Street Global Advisors.

“My career route then was public accounting in the asset management business, and probably involving mostly Treasuries,” Ross said. “It shifted when I got involved with SPY and I realized all the potential applications for ETFs. It was definitely more interesting than my day job at the time! I'm not sure that's the best way to make a career choice, but there you have it. It was influential.

What’s ahead for the ETF veteran?

“I just want to continue to see the industry work closely with advisors and investors of all types,” he said. “ETFs are great vehicles for all sorts of financial challenges, and one of the unique things about ETFs is that the client base is broader than any other opportunity set you see in financial products.”

Finalists for the award who were pitted against Ross included the following:

  • Rob Arnott, Research Affiliates

  • Reggie Browne, Cantor Fitzgerald

  • Henry Fernandez, MSCI

  • Gus Sauter, Vanguard (retired)

And one of the funds offered by Ross’ firm was also one of the breakout stars of 2016, sweeping five prizes and racking up more wins than any other fund in the history of the awards.

The SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE) faced off against a formidable set of adversaries for each prize. The fund, which was heavily seeded by California pension fund CalSTRS, is socially responsible in the sense that it seeks to invest in companies that have women in leadership roles, and it ticks the smart-beta box by treating that gender diversity as a factor driving outperformance.

SHE won Best New ETF, Most Innovative ETF, Best New US Equity ETF, Thematic ETF of the Year and the People’s Choice Award.

The five sets of finalists are as follows:

Best New ETF (finalists)

  • Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB)

  • Fidelity Dividend ETF for Rising Rates (FDRR)

  • JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF)

  • NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG)

  • Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI)

Most Innovative New ETF (finalists)

  • American Customer Satisfaction Core Alpha ETF (ACSI)

  • REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (VMAX)

  • BUZZ US Sentiment Leaders ETF (BUZ)

  • VelocityShares VIX Tail Risk ETN (BSWN)

Best New U.S. Equity ETF (finalists)

  • Columbia Sustainable U.S. Equity Income ETF (ESGS)

  • Elkhorn Lunt Low Vol / High Beta Tactical ETF (LVHB)

  • Global X Conscious Companies ETF (KRMA)

  • NuShares Short-Term REIT ETF (NURE)

Thematic ETF of the Year (finalists)

  • 3D Printing ETF (PRNT)

  • Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey & Spirits ETF (WSKY)

  • PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK)

  • PureFunds Video Game Tech ETF (GAMR)

  • Summit Water Infrastructure Multifactor ETF (WTRX)

People’s Choice Award

  • Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB)

  • Fidelity Dividend ETF for Rising Rates (FDRR)

  • Guggenheim S&P 100 Equal Weight ETF (OEW)

  • iShares MSCI EAFE ESG Optimized ETF (ESGD)

  • Janus Obesity ETF (SLIM)

  • NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG)

  • SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE)

  • Vanguard International Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIGI)

  • Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI)

  • WisdomTree Dynamic Currency Hedged International Equity Fund (DDWM)

Here’s a rundown of this year’s other awards ...

ETF Of The Year: VanEck Vectors Fallen Angel High Yield Bond ETF (ANGL)

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2016—importance being measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes.

ANGL, in a completely unassuming way, delivered investors outsized returns during the year, outperforming the major bond funds in the high-yield space by targeting a very specific slice of that market. The fund’s simple, cap-weighted methodology is designed to exploit the inefficiency that occurs when a bond is downgraded. The fund did exactly what it was supposed to do in 2016, and did it very well indeed.

Finalists included:

  • Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FBND)

  • Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (GSLC)

  • iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG)

  • Vanguard Total Market Index Fund (VTI)

Best New International/Global Equity ETF: WisdomTree Dynamic Currency Hedged International Fund (DDWM)

Awarded to the most important international or global equity ETF launched in 2016.

The WisdomTree Dynamic Currency Hedged International Fund (DDWM) took currency hedging to a new level in 2016, by adjusting the hedge up or down depending on its signal indicators. Instead of a sledgehammer approach, DDWM offers a scalpel solution by changing how much the fund is hedged (anywhere from 0-100%) using three equal-weighted signals: differences in interest rates (the cost of the hedge); momentum (based on 10- and 240-day moving averages); and long-term valuation (purchasing power parity). The real attraction is that this takes the decision of whether or not to hedge out of the hands of the investor.

Finalists included:

  • Fidelity Dividend ETF for Rising Rates (FDRR)

  • iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF (DEFA)

  • iShares MSCI Global Impact ETF (MPCT)

  • Vanguard International Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIGI)

Best New U.S. Fixed-Income ETF: Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB)

Awarded to the most important fixed-income ETF launched in 2016.

The high-yield bond space is one of the few areas where fees haven't hit rock-bottom levels, until the launch of the Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB), that is. HYLB's 0.25% expense ratio is groundbreaking because it's half the fee charged by the largest junk bond ETF, the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) (0.50%), and significantly lower than the fee charged by the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (JNK) (0.40%). Although its plain-vanilla portfolio isn’t exactly revolutionary, that low fee definitely is.

Finalists included:

  • Goldman Sachs Treasury Access 0-1 Year ETF (GBIL)

  • IQ Enhanced Core Plus Bond U.S. ETF (AGGP)

  • NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG)

  • WisdomTree Fundamental U.S. High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (WFHY)

Best New International/Global Fixed-Income ETF: Deutsche X-trackers Barclays International Corporate Bond Hedged ETF (IFIX)

Awarded to the most important international or global fixed-income ETF launched in 2016.

Deutsche Asset Management took the ETF fee war to the international bond space in 2016 when the Deutsche X-trackers Barclays International Corporate Bond Hedged ETF (IFIX) came to market in October 2016, with an expense ratio of only 0.30%. That's a cheap price for a portfolio consisting of investment-grade corporate bonds from around the world, denominated in 18 nondollar currencies. The inclusion of a currency hedge—hard to find in international fixed-income ETFs, but absolutely necessary, according to some market participants—was the icing on the cake.

Finalists included:

  • Cambria Sovereign High Yield Bond ETF (SOVB)

  • Janus Short Duration Income ETF (VNLA)

  • RiverFront Dynamic Unconstrained Income ETF (RFUN)

  • SPDR DoubleLine Short Duration Total Return Tactical (STOT)

Best New Commodity ETF: Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy ETF (RCOM)

Awarded to the most important commodity ETF launched in 2016.

RCOM tracks the 2 1/2-year-old Dow Jones RAFI Commodity Index, a factor-based, broad commodity index, bringing a “smart beta” sensibility to the commodity space. The ETF holds roughly equal weightings in the three main commodity sectors: energy, agriculture and metals. It also considers liquidity, momentum and roll yields to weight individual commodities. RCOM further distinguishes itself by actively managing the fund's collateral via "a short duration portfolio of highly liquid, high quality bonds." As rates increase, that active component could make a notable difference in returns.

Finalists included:

  • Elkhorn Commodity Rotation Strategy ETF (DWAC)

  • iPath Series B S&P GSCI Crude Oil ETF (OILB)

  • ProShares K-1 Free Crude Oil Strategy ETF (OILK)

  • VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN (DWT)

Best New Alternatives ETF: JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF)

Awarded to the most important alternatives ETF launched in 2015.

JPHF is an absolute-return strategy that tactically allocates across any and all asset types to pursue various hedge-fundlike strategies. This actively managed ETF can own anything—such as equity, fixed income, currencies, commodities and derivatives—and do anything from long/short to global macro to mergers arbitrage and the like. The strategy has even been dubbed “the hedge fund killer” in this awards nomination process. There are only 40 alternatives ETFs in the market today designed for absolute returns, but JPHF, which launched last September, is already the eighth-largest fund in this segment. It’s 2016’s most popular new alternatives launch, and it’s also among the cheapest.

Finalists included:

  • First Trust Alternative Absolute Return Strategy (FAAR)

  • ProShares Managed Futures Strategy ETF (FUT)

  • REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (VMAX)

  • VelocityShares VIX Tail Risk ETN (BSWN)

Best New Asset Allocation ETF: PowerShares DWA Tactical Multi-Asset Income Portfolio (DWIN)

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2016 that combines exposure to multiple asset classes.

PowerShares has an entire line of ETFs that incorporate the Dorsey Wright relative strength model into various segments of the stock market. But in 2016, for the first time, it applied the model to an asset allocation ETF. The "fund of exchange-traded funds" usually holds five ETFs chosen based on yield and price momentum. Those ETFs can be from any asset class, including equities, bonds, REITs, preferred stocks and more. Since its inception in March 2016, DWIN has garnered a strong following, and already has $117 million in assets. It's a modestly priced fund with an expense ratio of 0.69%, which is in line with other Dorsey Wright ETFs.

  • Aptus Behavioral Momentum ETF (BEMO)

  • iSectors Post-MPT Growth ETF (PMPT)

  • Premise Capital Frontier Advantage Diversified Tactical ETF (TCTL)

  • REX Gold Hedged S&P 500 (GHS)

Best New Smart-Beta/Factor ETF: Fidelity Dividend ETF For Rising Rates (FDRR) and Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI)

Awarded to the most important new ETF launched in 2016, regardless of asset class, that uses a quantitative, research-driven approach to attempt to deliver superior long-term risk-adjusted returns.

This year, the award for Best New Smart-Beta or Factor ETF was a tie between the intriguing Fidelity Dividend ETF For Rising Rates (FDRR) and the Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI). While FDRR has proven to be a timely product given the Fed’s current pattern of rate hikes, VYMI was one of Vanguard’s very selective launches, one half of a pair of funds targeting the international dividend space. The two funds seem to embrace both sides of the coin, with the former tapping into one of the key issues of the moment and the latter offering investors a fairly timeless core exposure.

Finalists included:

  • Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy ETF (RCOM)

  • Fidelity Low Volatility Factor ETF (FDLO)

  • iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA Small Cap ETF (SMMV)

Best New Active ETF: JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF)

Awarded to the most important new actively managed ETF launched in 2016, regardless of asset class. Only ETFs with inception dates after Dec. 31, 2015, are eligible. ETF must be classified as “Active per SEC” by FactSet to qualify.

JPHF brings together two key elements for an actively managed ETF to be successful: A powerful brand name and methodology that allows it wide latitude to pursue alpha practically anywhere it can find it. It can invest in equity, fixed income, currencies, commodities and derivatives while implementing basically any type of strategy its managers please.

Finalists included:

  • Amplify YieldShares CWP Dividend & Option Income ETF (DIVO)

  • Guggenheim Total Return Bond ETF (GTO)

  • Janus Short Duration Income Fund (VNLA)

  • SPDR DoubleLine Short Duration Total Return Tactical (STOT)

Best ETF Issuer: iShares by BlackRock

Awarded to the ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, asset gathering, investor support and innovation in 2016.

With 23 ETFs launched in 2016, it’s no wonder iShares claims the title of ETF Issuer of the Year. That amount is nearly double that of the second-most prolific issuer. However, a look at the quality of its launches further supports the argument for the issuer’s victory. The mix taps directly into the ETF industry zeitgeist and includes four socially responsible funds, three funds with adaptive currency hedges, a family of multifactor sectors, a handful of bond funds covering unique areas, and a small-cap version of its blockbuster minimum-volatility ETF. BlackRock also remains the largest ETF issuer in the world, after crossing the $1 trillion mark in 2016, and it pulled in more assets during the year than any other issuer, at $105 billion.

Finalists included:

  • Charles Schwab

  • Goldman Sachs

  • State Street Global Advisors

  • VanEck

  • Vanguard

Most Innovative ETF Issuer: Elkhorn Investments

Awarded to the ETF provider that launched the most innovative and groundbreaking group of ETFs in 2016.

Elkhorn Investments may have launched its first ETF in 2015, but there’s a wealth of experience behind the issuer of 15 ETFs with a combined $165 million in assets under management. Its founder Ben Fulton is one of the pioneers in the ETF space, having led PowerShares as managing director of global ETFs before leaving after eight years. He started Elkhorn, and in 2016, launched two smart-beta commodity ETFs that skip the K-1; the first high-quality preferred ETF; a suite of midcap sector funds; and the first-ever factor rotation ETF. The firm is proving that innovation isn't dead, and that small companies can in fact make a difference.

Finalists included:

  • Global X

  • iShares

  • J.P. Morgan

  • PureFunds

  • SSGA

Best New ETF Issuer: Nuveen

Awarded to the new ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, investor support and innovation. Issuers must have launched their first ETF in 2016.

Nuveen launched its first ETF back in September, the interesting NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG), and has proceeded to launch six more in the intervening time. The firm turned to ETF veteran Martin Kremenstein to lead it into the ETF space after he left Deutsche Bank’s ETF business, proving Nuveen wanted to get serious, but as part of TIAA-CREF, one of the largest asset managers in the world, Nuveen also has a wide range of capabilities and resources to draw from beyond its own niche in the larger firm. The issuer has been cherry-picking its product launches, aiming to enter spaces it knows come with institutional demand, including the ESG space. As a result, Nuveen’s newborn ETF lineup has attracted nearly $100 million in assets in less than six months.

Finalists included:

  • ACSI Funds

  • Aptus

  • OppenheimerFunds

  • REX Shares

Best Index Provider: MSCI

Awarded to the index provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through index introductions, research, advisor support and more.

MSCI lays claim to the Best Index Provider award for the third year in a row—or every year but one that ETF.com has handed out prizes. In 2015, MSCI’s expertise shone through in its offering of factor-based indexes. MSCI was in the spotlight yet again in 2016, but this time for its environmental/social/governance (ESG) indexes. MSCI-branded indexes underlie six of the 20-some ESG ETFs that launched in 2016, and MSCI’s research and expertise underpin the indexes of another 10 of those funds. The world’s oldest global index provider consistently manages to stake its flag in the rising trends within the index space.

Finalists included:

  • Indxx

  • Markit iBoxx

  • Morningstar

  • Standard & Poor’s

Best Index: FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap China A Inclusion Index

Awarded to the index that has done the most to provide new ways of considering investment strategies, opportunities or ideas.

2016 was the year in which the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) completed its transition to the FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap China A Inclusion Index, which includes small-caps and China A-shares, making it "the first broad-based market-cap-weighted emerging markets index fund to offer China A-shares and all capitalization equity exposure." The added geographic and size exposure increases the diversification for investors. Further, Vanguard notes that improved market conditions "have lowered the cost of investing in international small-cap equities."

Finalists included:

  • INDXX Millennials Thematic Index

  • S&P 500

  • SSGA Gender Diversity Index

  • STOXX Global ESG Impact Index

Best ETF Liquidity Provider: Susquehanna International Group

Awarded to the ETF liquidity provider (including market maker, authorized participant, agency broker, etc.) that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through education, support, services, innovation and outreach.

Philadelphia-based Susquehanna—or SIG, as it’s more commonly known—receives consistent praise for its deep commitment to solving client problems in ETFs. Led by Damon Walvoord and Bart Smith, the ETF team participates in virtually every ETF in the market, is the lead market maker on more than 500 ETFs, and handles more than $1 billion in daily creations and redemptions. It’s known for the diversity of its business and for providing excellent pre- and post-trade analysis for its clients.

Finalists included:

  • Bloomberg Tradebook

  • Cantor Fitzgerald

  • Jane Street

  • KCG

Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors: Charles Schwab

Awarded to the online brokerage offering the best package for ETF-focused investors. This award considers commission-free trading options, education materials, supporting services and other factors.

For the second year in a row, Charles Schwab has come out on top in the race for this award. However, it’s worth noting that just a few years ago, Schwab wasn’t a significant player in the ETF space. The firm’s soup-to-nuts approach to the ETF market includes its role as an issuer; robo advisor; advisor platform; and marketplace. It’s even started trying to crack open the retirement market, with its All-ETF 401(k) offering. Whichever way the ETF market develops in the coming decade, expect Schwab to be right there in front.

Finalists included:

  • Fidelity

  • Interactive Brokers

  • TD Ameritrade

Best ETF Offering: Wire House: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Awarded to the wire house that offer its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

Merrill’s well-rounded offering of services includes its highly competitive Merrill Edge platform and top-notch research. That knowledge is also leveraged by 14,000 advisors who work with investors on financial planning and investment programs.

Finalists included:

  • Morgan Stanley

  • UBS

Best ETF Offering: Independent Regional Broker-Dealer: Raymond James

Awarded to the independent broker-dealer offering its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

In the ETF space, the company’s multifaceted advisory business draws attention. “RayJay” hosts advisors and brokers using pretty much any model—from independent registered investment advisors to commission-based employee brokers. It also offers a commission-free ETF trading platform, a well-regarded model portfolio process and backup from RayJay luminaries Scott Brown and Jeff Saut. Further, its fee-only ETF platform, Freedom ETF, pairs the simplicity of an ETF-based model portfolio platform with flesh-and-blood advisors for a low-cost, high-touch service.

Finalists included:

  • LPL

Best ETF Research Paper: S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (SPIVA)

Awarded to the published paper from 2016 that most increased our understanding of how ETFs and/or index-based investments affect investor outcomes, whether in portfolios, markets or broader economic context.

This year’s winner is "S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (SPIVA)"

For the past 15 years, the S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard (the “SPIVA Scorecard”) has served as the scorekeeper of the indexing-versus-active debate. Almost everyone knows how this report will conclude: Active management doesn’t perform as well as indexing. In this category, it could be easy to overlook the SPIVA Scorecard, since its results are a broken record that plays back the same results twice a year. But it provides an invaluable service when it comes to truly helping investors make the best decisions.

Finalists included:

  • "ETFs: A Roadmap to Growth" by Nigel Brashaw et al.

  • “ETFs: Catalyst or Mirage for Market Liquidity?” by Vincent Denoiseux and Pierre Debru

  • “Minimum Volatility Indexes: Dispelling the Myths” by Dr. Andrew Ang and Dr. Ananth Madhavan

  • “The New Neutral: The Long-Term Case for Currency Hedging” by Robert Bush and Abby Woodham

Best ETF Issuer Website: BlackRock’s iShares

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an ETF issuer.

BlackRock’s iShares has won the award for Best ETF Issuer Website every year since ETF.com started handing out prizes for accomplishments in the ETF space, and it’s not hard to see why. The attractively designed site offers a wealth of information, not only about the firm’s individual ETFs, but about investment and portfolio construction ideas.

Finalists included:

  • db X-trackers

  • IndexIQ

  • KraneShares

  • Vanguard

  • WisdomTree

Best Index Provider Website: MSCI

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an index provider.

MSCI’s website is a can’t-lose combination of high-quality design together with exceptional, institutional-quality research and insights around world-renowned core indexing capabilities.

Finalists included:

  • ERI Scientific Beta

  • S&P Dow Jones


Best ETF Issuer Capital Markets Desk: Goldman Sachs

Awarded to the ETF issuer providing the most useful support to advisors for ETF trading.

While New York-based Goldman Sachs may be a bit new to the ETF issuer space, its prowess as a capital markets participant is unparalleled. Goldman’s strategy is to bring institutional-caliber products to the market for every class of ETF investor.

Finalists included:

  • Deutsche Asset Management

  • FlexShares

  • J.P. Morgan

  • State Street Global Advisors

Best ETF Strategist: Newfound

Awarded to the ETF strategist or model portfolio provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes in the previous year.

Newfound’s innovative new model portfolios are designed to tackle three crucial trends in the advisory space: a desire for simplicity; a need for low-cost solutions; and a demand for blended approaches of passive and active management. The QuBe portfolios effectively serve as an outsourced chief investment officer for advisors looking for customized solutions without having to manage multiple portfolios.

Finalists included:

  • Beaumont Capital

  • Cambria Investments

  • CLS Investments

  • Sage Advisory

Best ETF Lawyer: Dechert and Thompson Hine

Awarded annually to the law firm that has done the most to push the ETF industry forward, including driving new and innovative products through the Securities and Exchange Commission, advocating for the industry and the rights of investors, and improving outcomes for investors.

It could be said that lawyers make the ETF industry tick. They’re instrumental to the design of new products and navigating the maze of ETF regulations and requirements. This year, the award goes to two different firms: Dechert and Thompson Hine. While the former is known for its expertise and comprehensive services in the ETF space, the latter’s up-to-date knowledge of the regulatory environment is invaluable to issuers.

Finalists included:

  • Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer

  • Chapman & Cutler

  • Ropes & Gray

Best ETF Advisor: Ritholtz Wealth Management

Awarded to an individual financial advisor or advisor team that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios to clients in an innovative way.

Ritholtz is a classic wealth manager, in the sense that it focuses not on making market calls, but crafting long-term plans to meet individual financial goals, with a healthy dose of risk management. The firm’s focus on evidence-based investing—not performance chasing—and its adoption of environmental, social and governance strategies for those clients who want it, put Ritholtz Wealth Management out on the front edge of ETF-centric financial advisors.

Finalists included:

  • Chudom Hayes Wealth Management

  • Edelman Financial Services

  • Stocker Woods Financial

  • Veteran Financial Freedom Initiative

Best Institutional ETF User: USAA

Awarded to an institutional investor that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios in an innovative way.

USAA is a huge membership-based company that provides members of the U.S. military and their families with everything from financial planning services to car insurance. Between its USAA Investment Management Co. and USAA Insurance Group arms, USAA owns more than $7 billion in ETFs, including core and smart-beta strategies.

Finalists included:

  • Houston Firefighters’ Relief And Retirement Fund

  • Lazard Asset Management

  • Rockefeller University

  • Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System

Best New ETF Ticker: WSKY

Awarded to the ETF with the best new ETF ticker. The ETF must have launched in 2016 to qualify.

The winner is WSKY—the Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey & Spirits ETF (WSKY). The ticker explains quite clearly what the fund is all about: It tracks an index composed of global equities that either own and operate a whiskey distillery, or derive a significant amount of revenue from the sale of whiskey.

Finalists included:

  • BUZ: BUZZ US Sentiment Leaders ETF

  • MENU: USCF Restaurant Leaders Fund

  • OLD: The Long-Term Care ETF

  • VNLA: Janus Short Duration Income ETF


ETF.com Award winners are selected in a three-part process designed to leverage the insights and opinions of leaders throughout the ETF industry.

Step 1
The awards process began with an open nomination period running from Dec. 5, 2016, through Jan. 4, 2017. We received hundreds of nominations from participants in all corners of the ETF space.

Step 2
Following the open nominations process, the ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee—made up of senior leaders at ETF.com, Inside ETFs and FactSet—voted to select up to five finalists in each category. Votes were tallied on a majority basis. The members of the nominating committee were:

  • Matt Hougan, CEO, Inside ETFs (Chair)

  • Paul Britt, Senior Analyst, FactSet

  • Elisabeth Kashner, Director of ETF Research, FactSet

  • Dave Nadig, CEO, ETF.com

  • Drew Voros, Editor-in-Chief, ETF.com

Step 3
Winners from these finalists were selected by a majority vote of the ETF.com Awards Selection Committee, a group of independent ETF experts. Committee members recused themselves from voting in any category in which they or their firms appeared as finalists. Ties were decided where possible with head-to-head runoff votes.

Members of the 2016 Awards Selection Committee included:

  • Kim Arthur, Founding Partner, Main Management

  • Eric Balchunas, ETF Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence

  • Ben Blaisdell, US Trust

  • Rob Glownia, RiverFront

  • Ben Johnson, Director of Global ETF Research, Morningstar

  • Tom Lydon, Editor, ETF Trends

  • Phil Mackintosh, Managing Director, KCG

  • Jason Nicastro, Senior Research Analyst, LPL Financial

  • Tyler Mordy, President & CIO, Forstrong Global Asset Management

  • Todd Rosenbluth, Director of ETF & Mutual Fund Research, CFRA

  • Jim Wiandt, Founder, ETF.com

Voting was completed by Jan. 20, 2017, but results were kept secret until their announcement at the ETF.com U.S. Awards Dinner on March 30, 2017.

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