What is an ETF or Exchange Traded Fund. Why do I care? TedLovesTLC

The innovation of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) over the past 20 plus years has revolutionized how many investors access markets, but the benefits are still unclear to many people. With that in mind, the below acronym TED Loves TLC is meant to simply summarize what people should be looking for in a fun way. Readers should not take this as an investment recommendation at all, but read the commentary for educational purposes. A more detailed report will follow.

TED stands for:

  • Transparency = Most ETFs are fully transparent including Intraday pricing (INAV) & holdings.
  • Ease of Use = ETFs Trade like a stocks and are listed on a major exchange; NYSE, Nasdaq & BATS.
  • Diversification = Most ETFs are diversified so the risk is about the sector, asset class or a group’s trend.

TLC stands for:

  • Tax Efficiency = Internal capital gains are generally not passed along to investors.
  • Liquidity = Trading volume of the underlying securities is the best metrics of an ETF liquidity.
  • Cost = Fees are mostly set as a percentage of assets under management (AUM) and are generally low

For further information please see attached link: TED Loves TLC

Structure Matters Series: Know the Factors that drive performance

The goal of this next Structure Matters series is to provide practical guidelines with how factor based investing should be monitored, measured and used.  In this series, we will interview ETF portfolio managers and key decision makers who are involved in the ETF construction and the factor weightings that drive index and “real money” performance. Although the label “smart beta” is at the core of the factor question, investors in passively managed funds need to recognize that a “do nothing strategy” arguably results in the automatic acceptance of certain risks.  For example, market weighted indexes overweight winners and arguably can make performance axiomatic while also potentially increasing risk. There is no free lunch!

Our belief at Access ETF Solutions is that investors need to study the factors that drive the index construction within any ETF so they understand how the engine works or run the risk of driving off course. As a tactical investor we believe that curves in the road will affect factor outcomes and portfolios need to be reviewed in the context of changes in the investment environment. Ignorance will not be forgiven if you get stuck in the mud in your new sports car when the road requires an off road vehicle.

Securities and investment advice offered through Investment Planners, Inc. (Member FINRA  /SIPC) and IPI Wealth Management, Inc., 226 W. Eldorado St., Decatur, IL 62522. 217-425-6340. Access ETF Solutions is not affiliated with either Investment Planners, Inc. or IPI Wealth Management, Inc.

Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.


Interview Date: August 10, 2015

Interview: Factors that matter – Insider sentiment

In this interview David Brown of Sabrient Systems LLC discusses how his firm works as the  index provider for both Guggenheim’s Defensive Equity ETF (DEF) and Insider Sentiment ETF (NFO) as well as  Direxion’s All Cap Insider Sentiment ETF  (KNOW). David’s brings an interesting background to the the ETF space. Previously to founding Sabrient he was a NASA scientist on the lunar landing project and then the CEO of two public companies, including Telescan, a financial information firm that he ultimately took public.

We believe readers will find this interview constructive in how it presents the case for what an index provider does in terms of developing the Intellectual Process (IP) that runs the methodology, how certain driving factors work together to screen for qualitative and or quantitative outcomes and insights. See attached details:David Brown – Sabrient Systems – interview-Final



Interview Date: July 27, 2015

Interview: Factors that matter when hedging the Korean Won

In May 2014, We met with Jeremy Schwartz, Director of WisdomTree, about hedging the Japanese Yen. (JeremySchwartz Structure Matters – Currency hedges Japan – Edited 5-4-14A)  Jeremy has led WisdomTree’s pioneering effort towards currency hedging with many constructive whitepapers that outline the strategic benefits of such alternative solutions. In this latest piece we asked Jeremy about what factors should investors look to when they are addressing the currency question for South Korean and the Won. Again, we believe that having access to a currency hedge can be a constructive tool and are encouraged by such innovation in the ETF industry, but only if it is in the hands of a user who appreciates the factors that drive the decision making process. See attached link for details:   JSchwartz -Factors that matter on hedging the WON for South Korean exposure


Interview Date: July 13, 2015

Title: Factors helping to drive gold mining stocks

Joe Foster is relatively unknown in the ETF market as his focus is that of a gold strategist and portfolio manager at Van Eck®  Global, which is the firm behind the large-cap gold mining ETF (GDX) and small-cap miner ETF (GDXJ). However, given Joe’s expertise as the firm’s active gold mining mutual fund portfolio manager, we thought it would be constructive to sit down with him regarding what factors might be a catalyst to drive gold mining stocks. See Link for details:Joe Foster-Factor Interview FINAL713


Interview Date: June 15, 2015

Title: Factors driving todays record M&A Activity

With announced M&A activity set to eclipse $875 billion halfway into 2015  we thought it appropriate to check in with Salvatore Bruno, the Chief Investment Officer of IndexIQ. Sal is responsible for research and product development at IndexIQ’s alternative investment strategies. As the developer of the first US based family of hedge fund replication strategy indices,  Sal was early to recognize the benefits of the ETF wrapper and define the IndexIQ investment methodologies by specific factors and rules. His work at IndexIQ has been leading edge in the ETF market given the challenges in defining the factors that affect portfolio performance under various circumstances especially in defining the rules based strategies in the alternative market. See Link for details: BrunoSalvatore IndexIQ626


Interview Date: May 29, 2015

Title: GDP as a key factor for investing

In this interview  Brendan Ahern, the Chief Investment Officer of Kraneshares speaks about GDP as a factor for investing. Index methodologies in emerging markets equities are highly differentiated with meaningful results that are driven by factors that result in varying allocations to countries, market cap size, industries and fiscal policies. We hope that readers appreciate, if only for educational purposes,  that exploring alternative allocation methodologies should be constructive for any investor as it leads to a deeper understanding of what drives returns. See Link for details BrendanAhern-factor Interview


Interview Date: May 20, 2015

Title: Factor: The Emerging Market Consumer

Robert Holderith, President and  Founder of EGShares is the President and Founder of EG Shares which as a firm was launched in 2008 under the premise that investors needed a different approach to investing in the emerging  markets than the traditional market weighted strategies. The focus of this interview is on the consumer factor and demographics. See link: Robert Holderith – factor interview


Interview Date: April 18, 2015

Title: Factors to monitor in the MLP sector

In this first interview I am pleased to be speaking to a relatively new member of the ETF marketplace, Jay Hatfield, the Portfolio Manager of Infrastructure Capital Advisors (ICA). Jay and his firm are the sub-advisors for  the only active managed MLP ETF (AMZA) and brings backgound to the ETF market as both an operator and as a portfolio manager. He is both a Co-founder and general partner of NGL Energy Partners, a NYSE-listed MLP (NGL). Prior to forming ICA, he was portfolio manager at SAC (Now Point 72 Asset Management).

We believe readers will find this interview particularly insightful given Jay’s expertise and background in the MLP space and hope his comments about factors that drive the MLP space helpful in how they view the sector. See link Jay Hatfield-factor Interview



A series of interviews about how STRUCTURE MATTERS:

Structure Matters: The Human Factor 

Most ETF investors never think about how an ETF works. The perception is that ETFs  are “passively managed to an index” and are on auto-pilot, but behind the scenes  portfolio managers, index providers and legal experts are managing the process to make sure that an ETF works effectively and efficiently. As an ETF Strategist and Portfolio Manager, for the past 10 years, Mr. Weiskopf has learned what questions to ask and whom to ask.

In this series of interviews called:  STRUCTURE MATTERS he asks questions of key people responsible for implementing how the  ETF structure works. The benefit to the reader should be more knowledge and a greater understanding about the importance of an ETF Strategist.


Our Structure Matters series would be incomplete if it did not address the issue of leveraged and inverse ETFs. In this segment we interview Daniel O’Neill, the Chief Executive Officer of Direxion Shares. Dan has always been an advocate of educating the investor on how the engine works with the structure of his ETFs. Dan attended the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar and then continued on at UVA for  Law School. Later on he spent some time in Russia where he worked at a hedge fund called Hermitage. He has been at Direxion previously named Potomac Funds, since 1999. Direxion today has about $7 billion in AUM and the leveraged products were launched late in 2008.  

Investors, traders and advisors  will take away 4 major points from reading this interview which is summarized as follows: 

(1) Volatility impairs the return of leveraged ETFs over weeks and months;

(2) Short these funds when volatility is high and declining;

(3) Day trading leveraged products can work since volatility on most days is relatively constant

(4) Direxion is also focused on alternative strategies. 

Highlight the attached link to read the entire interview: DanOneill-Structure Matters Leveraged ETFs



May 22, 2014

The ETF Structure Matters series is about the complexity of a securities wrapper so it seems fitting that we interview Kenny Feng, the President and CEO of Alerian . After all, some of the explosive asset growth in the MLP industry, which now has a market capitalization of about $470 billion, has itself been a function of a unique wrapper. Those reading the article should take away three points about investing in MLP ETF/ETN securities: (1) ETFs and ETNs are very different, (2) the three different ways to access MLPs via ETFs and ETNs that may be appropriate for different types of accounts with different investment objectives, and (3) higher interest rates may not be a negative for MLP investors. 

Highlight the attached link to read further details Kenny Feng -Alerian Structure Matters MLP



May 5, 2014

ETFs by the nature of their structure are mostly passive investment vehicles, but  buy, sell or even hold are active investment decisions. WisdomTree and its Director of Research, Jeremy Schwartz are very much at the center of the structural question about what modern indexing or smart beta means. WisdomTree which was founded in 2004 has an AUM of approx. $34 billion. Readers of this interview, will gain insights into (1) Why they might want to diversify their index strategies; (2) How WisdomTree came to the conclusion that some investors would benefit by hedging currency exposure; and (3)  What the Bank of Japan is doing buying up ETFs.

Highlight the attached link to read further details: JeremySchwartz Structure Matters – Currency hedges Japan – Edited 5-4-14A




April 29, 2014

The ETF STRUCTURE MATTERS series would be incomplete if we did not address some of key differences between a Trust and the typical ETF structure. To make the point clear we are fortunate to include George Milling-Stanley in our latest interview in the series. George was a key member of the small team that pioneered and launched  the SPDR Gold SharesSM .  When GLD was launched there were  functional questions about liquidity, but as part of this team George helped develop the creation and redemption structures that allow gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds to function. Before establishing his own consulting business Mr. Milling-Stanley served as Managing Director of Government Affairs at the World Gold Council, where he was responsible for all programs involving central banks, governments, and regulatory authorities. He was a key member of the small team that pioneered and launched

Gold bugs will enjoy this piece because they know George, but those readers who don’t know George will find reading the piece helpful in answering many detailed questions about GLD. Again, in keeping with this series, we remain focused on the important aspects that make the ETF Trust structure beneficial to investors.

Highlight the link to see the full interview: GeorgeMillingstanleyGLD  



April 16, 2014

Hedge fund Investors feeling the pinch from paying yesterday’s tax bill should find the latest Structure Matters series especially constructive as it takes a deep dive into how Salvatore Bruno, the CIO of  IndexIQ, manages the firm’s investment process across two of it’s liquid alternative ETF strategies. High turnover “low vol” strategies can work well wrapped in the ETF structures since they can efficiently shield against internal capital gains. Readers will also find out more about why these strategies seem to hold a lot of cash and how swaps are used to implement the strategy. 

Note that while we may own funds that are discussed in our Structure Matters series we are sincerely NOT making any investment recommendation in these articles. More than a legal compliance warning – we hope to inform people that Structure Matters when choosing an ETF. 

Highlight the link to see the full interview: BrunoSalavatoreIndexIQ-Seeking After tax alpha in liquid alternatives


April 3, 2014

ETFs offer ease of access to markets, but investors and advisors need to understand the dynamics of how a market can trade. In this interview, Mr. Weiskopf and Mr Lee Shaiman, the portfolio manager of the actively managed SPDR Blackstone/GSO Senior Loan ETF (SRLN), discuss many of the idiosyncratic issues associated with the senior loan market. Three major points are discussed (1) How an  active approach is different than a passive index methodology (2) Blackstone’s advantage in the primary market, and (3) Idiosyncratic issues with the senior loan market.

Highlight the Link to read the full interview: LeeShaimanBlackstone


March 17, 2014

In this the, the sixth interview in the  Structure Matters series Mr. Weiskopf speaks to Kathleen Moriarty, also known in the ETF industry as the “SPDR Woman”. Mrs. Moriarty is a partner at the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenmann LLP.  As a  thought leader in the ETF market for over 20 years she has been fondly given the title SPDR Woman because  of her involvement in writing the original prospectus for the  SPDR (SPY) . 

The interview focuses on the ETF legal wrapper (ETF vs ETN), the need for consistent industry labels (smart beta, ETF, ETN, ETV and ETP) and explains how ETFs protect investors so long as they know what they own

Thank you Kathleen for spending the time with us. We know people will find the interview constructive. 

Highlight the Link to download  the interview: MoriartySmartBetaandgoodProspectusreadingMarch14



March 6, 2014

Weiskopf’s interview with Ryan Issakainen, the  Senior Vice-President and ETF Strategist at First Trust.  Ryan is one of the key people who work behind the scenes to make sure that the strategies managed by First Trust work efficiently and effectively. The focus is on Europe and how different ETFs provide different exposures that could lead to different outcomes. 

Highlight the Link to download  the interview: FirstTrustEurope



February 24, 2014

Weiskopf ‘s interview with David Blitzer, the  Managing Director & Chairman of the Index Committee includes a discussion about how the committee made the decision to add Facebook to the S&P500 and Mr. Blitzer’s views on “Smart Beta”.

Highlight the Link to download the interview: DavidBlitzer on adding Facebook to the S&P500



January 24, 2014

Weiskopf’s interview with John Tucker from SSga about  “Advanced Beta” vs. “Smart Beta” 

Highlight the link to download the interview: JohnTucker of SSGA


January 20, 2014

Weiskopf’s interview with Jim Colby, Portfolio Manager for Vaneck Municipal Bond funds

Highlight the link to download the interview: Jim Colby- A Muni Portfolio Manager’s Role 


January 13, 2014 

Weiskopf’s interview with Matt Tucker from Blackrock ishares about how  “A Portfolio Manager’s role affects how an ETF functions”

Highlight the link to download:   MattTucker-FIxed Income – A Portfolio Manager’s role

Securities and investment advice offered through Investment Planners, Inc. (Member FINRA  /SIPC) and IPI Wealth Management, Inc., 226 W. Eldorado St., Decatur, IL 62522. 217-425-6340. Access ETF Solutions is not affiliated with either Investment Planners, Inc. or IPI Wealth Management, Inc.

Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.


Conference Presentation Schedule

 February 10, 2014  at 1pm

IMCA 2014 New York Consulting Conference

Location: The New York Marriott Marquis

Subject: ETF Trading and Liquidity 

Conference Link:




January 27th at 3:05 pm in section A

The subject matter that will be discussed:

Multi-Asset Class Yield Solution – A Players book for Rising Interest Rates. The search for yield has been a struggle since the crisis of 2008, with investors piling into everything from high-yield bonds to equity dividend strategies.Should investors be turning to multi-asset-class yield strategies?And what ETFs can provide this exposure for clients? 

  • Why multi-asset strategies make sense in the current environment
  • The construction of multi-asset yield ETFs analyzed
  • The best multi-asset strategies for 2014

Conference Link: