Former BlackRock Exec Starts ETF Research Firm

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Former head of BlackRock’s ETF research, Deborah Fuhr, will be launching a new independent research and consulting firm that will focus on the global ETF industry on Monday, February 27th.


New Indie to Start

The new research firm, called ETF Global Insight, will be headquartered in London, and will publish independent research on the ETF industry, conduct competitor analysis, provide education and assistance to investors on product comparison and asset allocation, and offer customized research.

“The need for independent research and assistance in navigating the ETF landscape is even greater today than at any time in the past 10 years.  Across North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, there are exciting opportunities to bring ETFs to more investors in more countries with quality tools and research that serve their requirements,”  Fuhr said in a press release.

Fuhr added, “We believe the industry will see significant change as investors and regulators demand greater transparency, clarity and information which will benefit investors globally.”

The other founding partners of the new firm are Shane Kelly and Matthew Murray.  Kelly is a veteran of Merrill Lynch, BlackRock and Morgan Stanley. Murray is a former associate at Merrill Lynch and served as an analyst on Fuhr’s team at BlackRock.  Fuhr, Kelly and Murray were responsible for developing the first ETF global industry research reports and have won numerous awards for their research.


Fuhr’s Background

Fuhr began covering ETFs at Morgan Stanley in 1997, when the U.S. ETF industry consisted of fewer than two dozen funds worth $21 billion.  In 2008, she moved to Barclays Global Investors, the manager of the iShares line of ETFs.  Ms. Fuhr became the global head of ETF research at BlackRock after the firm acquired BGI in 2009.

Fuhr left BlackRock in October 2011, and was planning to take the position of head of global delta one strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  However, in January of this year, the bank announced that it would not be following through with the hiring.  Consequently, Fuhr decided to try her luck in the independent research business.


Integrity’s View

Despite the fact that the ETF industry has exploded in size over the past decade to more than $1 trillion in assets under management, there are very few research firms today that specialize in this area.

It is clear to us that there should be investor demand for more transparency, research, and advice on ETF’s.  However, the real issue is who will pay for this research.  Historically, retail investors have either been unwilling or unable to pay much for investment advice on ETFs.  Institutional investors, who have the wherewithal to pay for this research, have typically not been significant users of ETFs as a part of their investment strategies.

However, few in the industry have the profile and experience that Deborah Fuhr and her partners have.  This leads us to believe that if anyone can make ETF research work, the team at ETF Global Insight might actually be able to.  It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

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