Inside ETFs & LINC 2020 recap | 7 February 2020

Good day to everyone !

It has been an incredible two weeks so we appreciate your patience in waiting for the next Week in Review. We saw many of you at the Inside ETFs and National LINC 2020 events last week and we greatly appreciate you stopping by our booths. So let’s start our event recap edition of the Week in Review:


It was our first participation in the Inside ETFs Conference and came away very impressed. The speaker rosters were strong, networking was robust and it is the center of some of the best thinking within the industry. Whether you are an institutional or technology firm, financial advisor or individual investor, you won’t be disappointed as the event covers the range.

There is a proliferation of new product and issuers.

There continues to be a growing wave of advisors pursuing independence in the wealth management and asset management industries. ETFs are right in the middle of it with many independent firms looking to launch their white-labeled ETFs and the barriers to do it have been reduced dramatically. While the top 4 are dominant, there are many firms launching because they want to decide who they want to work with, build the organization and position themselves. So the main question remained, can everyone grow successfully while bringing education and clarity to financial advisors and individual investors?

Active, non-transparent ETFs are coming fast.

There’s a wave of products and strategies coming out with one set of firms who are looking to distribute their investment expertise through every available investment vehicle while others are focused on asset retention for their active mutual funds. There’s a completely split camp on where the success will be, particularly on the proposed economics.

The interest in ESG is snowballing. 

There was plenty of discussion and contentious debate on whether the interest is for real or associated with the extended bull market. The number of data providers are emerging and there is conflicting evidence on whether it is truly a strategy or a theme / allocation. Many of the FAANG stocks are not included in these indices so the questions ring loud.

Advisors are looking for differentiation.

Advisors are less comfortable with 60/40 and how it was supposed to be a bellwether for client conversation. It’s rapidly changing and folks are looking for something better to share with clients and differentiate themselves. There’s a pursuit for better tools and alternative solutions. Two items were certain – advisors want a different perspective and they’re searching for quicker ways to get to that answer.

Fund companies are pivoting to data and technology. 

Fund companies are pursuing data and technology engagement with product users. As the industry pricing continues to drop, the revenue opportunities are looking more like data and technology rather than assets under management even for the top 4 in ETF space.


With much of the visibility created though the announcement of a proposed merger between Schwab and TD Ameritrade, this event did not disappoint either. We’re one of the TD Veo technology partners and there was a high level of impressive speakers, engagement and networking with new enhancements coming from TD and its partners. We’re excited to see that TD has also announced the planning of the 2021 event.

Here are some of the key areas of discussion:

The Merger

While it was one of the main side topics during and between the session, Tom McNally addressed the group that it’s early and the leadership has not even met to discuss due to the regulatory approval process. It didn’t distract attendees from the event and the TD staff helped with the focus on events and meetings taking place. Regardless, in our conversations, it was a topic with every advisor with who we engaged.

Technology integration

While I could not do it justice in this column, there was an impressive spectrum of providers who were hosted and much of the dialogue was around integration and some planned enhancements. Every aspect of the advisor’s workflow was represented including talent capital providers and bundled solutions. The range of choices can be overwhelming for many folks particularly if their building their stack from scratch however there is help available through TD and other technology consulting resources.

Succession planning and merger opportunities

There were several sessions that focused on this area which is a top 3 topic in today’s RIA market. A number firms and platforms were participating and they were receiving great attention between sessions and post-venue time. In speaking with a number of them, RIA business owners are focused on creating a plan, gaining feedback for enhancing their valuation and navigating the vast choices for succession. It is a topic that has progressed from the “no discussion” stage to a stage where potential sellers were presenting their firm as an opportunity.  

Asset management and modeling

Many advisors have their investment process in transition moving from customized portfolios to models, mutual funds to ETFs and outsourcing to a TAMP. They’re faced with a time-consuming process and other areas which are garnering their attention such as financial planning, estate planning and behavioral/life coaching. They shared many stories of a legacy model and delivering more to their clients due to growing sophistication and greater competition. Every advisor was allocating more time to growth and business development.

Reg BI compliance

Advisors, while not overwhelmed, were conversing with their peers on how they’re focused on this change and responding to it. The date is quickly approaching and many advisors are working to get their hands around it.


Here are the posts most read on

Keys for an Advisor to Select a 401k Fund Lineup

Explaining the Lowered Capital Component of a Portformer Fund Analysis

ESG in Focus – Providing Clarity in an Evolving Moment in Investing

#FinTwit Influencer Analysis

Question of the Week:

What has been a key finding of your 2019 business view and how are you addressing it ?

Please share with us via our chatbox at Portformer or reply to this email and the information will remain confidential.

What we’re Reading:

Here is a snapshot of the best articles compiled and read by our team:

As always, we welcome sharing this with a colleague who would benefit from joining our community or you can find us on social media at Twitter @Portformer and LinkedIn at Portformer. If you’re interested in a particular topic or individual from the conference, we’re happy to help connect you.


Sean Kruzel and the Portformer™ Team

John DiBenedetto

Sales | Business Development | Customer Success

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