ETF Innovation- Japan & China

The Santa Claus rally looks to be in full force, but in our judgment that that does not mean investors should continue to buy indiscriminately. Broad low cost ETFs offer great strategic solutions, but as an ETF Strategist/PM we look deeper. To explain our process and current thinking towards differentiated ETFs we wrote the attached piece that focuses in on ETFs that are targeted at Japan and China. Of course, a similar thought process exists for Europe.

A quick scan of the piece will highlight the following points:

  1. Our investment due diligence process is more than just looking at the expense fee of an ETF;
  2. Currency hedged ETFs add value and are an effective solution that this PM sees as better than traditional market weighted funds
  3. Innovation in country ETFs – whether broad or narrow – offer investors access to different strategies and going narrow can add value if you get it right. (Frankly, long term we see a lot of opportunity in the sector funds, but we arguably are early on this issue. Sector funds are a large part of the ETF industry and ultimately as investors get more sophisticated they will allocate to sector funds in different countries; especially when central banks are targeting specific areas.)

The full piece can be found by going to: ETF Innovation- Japan & China

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.


Investment Planners, Inc Welcomes Dan Weiskopf of Access ETF Solutions


October 1, 2013




Investment Planners, Inc. Welcomes Dan Weiskopf

Decatur Illinois, October 1, 2013  —Dan Weiskopf, Portfolio Manager and Investment Advisor Representative of IPI Wealth and IPI Wealth Management Inc.,  have entered into a strategic alliance that brings Access ETF Solutions models strategies and Mr. Weiskopf’s ETF expertise to managed accounts and advisory platforms. David Koshinski, President of IPI Wealth Management states, “We are excited to be able to provide advisors with the expertise in ETF’s that Dan Weiskopf brings to IPI Wealth Management. The growth and evolution of the ETF market place is an important trend in the financial service industry and having Dan as part of our advisor community and as a resource is evidence of our commitment to bring innovation, leadership and resources to advisors and their clients and branch out to outside advisors.”  Tim Highland, Executive Vice President of IPI Wealth Management added, “the opportunity to bring Dan’s expertise into our organization continues to differentiate IPI Wealth from other hybrid firms such as ours. We continue to work to bring new strategies and support to our family of advisors and to the industry at large.  We are pleased that we were able to attract someone with Dan’s knowledge about ETF structures and portfolio management experience. “

 Dan Weiskopf, Portfolio Manager of Access ETF Solution models commented, “I am thrilled to be a part of the IPI family and as an IPI resource and platform solution. IPI has a long history of growth and a clear vision of the future. I am pleased that Tim and Dave recognize how ETF’s can play a role in the firm’s future both as an additional investment tool and as an independent ETF model provider that will have broader application with managed account platforms and providers. The initial four Access ETF Solutions strategies will be managed as Third Party Managed (TPM) designed to meet specific client needs with an emphasis on managing risk on a tactical basis while providing a steady stream of income.  I look forward to working with advisors to help them integrate ETFs models into their practices to assist their clients in reaching their portfolio goals.” In addition,  “our alliance provides us with distribution reach through Quincy Capital, a third party marketing group, to further expand on open architecture managed account platforms like Placemark Investments UMA Marketplace and such custodians as: Schwab, Fidelity, Pershing and TD Ameritrade.

About IPI Wealth Management, Inc. Based in Decatur, Illinois,

Based in Decatur, Illinois, Investment Planners Inc. is an independent broker-dealer registered in 48 states with offices 25 states. IPI partners with high-caliber financial advisors who are looking to expand their capabilities to best meet their client’s needs. IPI Wealth Management, Inc. is one of the fastest growing wealth management firms in the United States and was named one of the top 10 Fastest Growing Firms by Financial Advisor Magazine. IPI Wealth Management, Inc. of Decatur has most recently been honored with a recognition in the July 2013 issue of Financial Advisor Magazine and naming in the top tier of the 2013 RIA Ranking displaying an RIA asset ranking at over $1 billion.

 For more information, visit Investment Planner’s Inc. online at