The ETF Hall of Fame: 25 People Who Revolutionized the ETF Industry

by on July 14, 2009 | Updated July 8, 2014 | ETFs Mentioned:

 While countless individuals have contributed to the industry’s meteoric rise, 25 people stand out for contributions that have guided ETF investing from its conception to widespread acceptance among all breeds of investors. The inaugural members of ETF Database’s Hall of Fame are presented below in alphabetical order, which is to say we have not attempted to rank these individuals by order of importance.

  1. John “Jack” Bogle, Founder of Vanguard Group

    John BogleBogle may seem like a strange choice for inclusion in our Hall of Fame, given his vocal criticisms of certain aspects of ETFs. But Bogle’s real beef is with the manner in which ETFs are being promoted and used. Known as the father of passive indexing and sensible asset allocation for average investors, Bogle founded the first index mutual fund (Vanguard 500 Index Fund) in 1975, and has been among the most knowledgeable and well-respected proponents of passive, indexed investing. Although he has reiterated his preference for indexed mutual funds on countless occasions, Bogle’s efforts have no doubt paved the way for more widespread acceptance of ETFs.

  2. H. Bruce Bond, Founder of PowerShares

    Bruce BondAs president and founder of PowerShares, the Wheaton, Illinois-based ETF issuer, Bond is the man behind the “intelligent ETF revolution.” Bond’s firm was the first to experiment with actively-managed ETFs, introducing funds that are a cross between traditional actively-managed funds and purely passive vehicles. Instead of merely tracking an index, several PowerShares funds replicate proprietary “Intellidexes” that are designed to beat traditional ETF benchmarks. Beyond its quasi-active ETFs, PowerShares has introduced a number of innovative ETFs and ETNs focusing on commodities, and is responsible for the ultra-popular QQQ Trust (QQQQ).

  3. Scott Burns, Director of ETF Analysis at Morningstar

    Scott BurnsBurns is among the most intelligent and insightful analysts covering the ETF industry, covering both the positive attributes of ETFs and the drawbacks and issues that arise from their misuse. Although best known for its coverage of the mutual fund arena, Morningstar also provides extensive coverage of the ETF space, including a fund screener, analyst reports, and industry commentary.

  4. Robert Carey, Chief Investment Officer at First Trust

    Robert CareyAs the CIO of First Trust, Carey is responsible for overseeing more than 35 ETFs with total assets of $960 million as of June 30, 2009. While First Trust is a relatively small ETF issuer, the firm has introduced many innovative funds offering exposure to unique sectors and regions, including its Global Wind Energy ETF (FAN), Global Engineering and Construction ETF (FLM), Chindia ETF (FNI), and Community Banks ETF (QABA).

  5. Don Dion, Publisher and Chief Investment Strategist, Fidelity Independent Adviser

    Don DionOne of the most widely-read analysts in the ETF industry, Don Dion publishes The ETF Report (a monthly newsletter) and The Sector Momentum Tracker (a weekly publication), which offer trading advice and insight into the ETF industry. Through his numerous publications, Don has raised the visibility of ETFs as an investment option and informed countless investors of their advantages and drawbacks. Don is the primary ETF contributor to TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, and among the most widely-followed financial advisor contributors to Seeking Alpha. He also runs a money management firm that provides custom portfolios for investors.

  6. Laurence Fink, CEO at BlackRock

    Laurence FinkLaurence Fink is the man behind the blockbuster deal that grabbed headlines in the financial press in early 2009, orchestrating BlackRock’s $13.5 billion takeover of the market-leading iShares ETF platform. Once the transaction had closed, word came that the deal nearly fell through due to difficulties with the financiers, only to be saved by Fink’s efforts and connections. With the acquisition completed, many expect Fink to be a driving force in the ETF industry, perhaps pushing actively-managed ETFs forward and expanding the reach of ETFs into retirement plans.

  7. Gus Fleites, Industry Veteran

    Gus FleitesFleites has jumped around the ETF industry, but success has followed him wherever he goes. After leading the ETF team at State Street for several years, Fleites jumped to ProShares, where he oversaw the launch of tremendously popular leveraged and inverse-leveraged product lines. From ProShares, Fleites joined IndexIQ, a developer of alternatively weighted indexes that launched the IQ Hedge Multi-Strategy Tracker ETF (QAI) in early 2009.

  8. Dave Fry, Founder and Publisher of ETF Digest

    Dave FryWith more than 30 years of experience in the investment advisory business, Fry is one of the premier sources for news and analysis of both the ETF industry and the equity markets in general. Dave offers a daily newsletter covering hundreds of ETFs, as well as ETF hedge fund portfolios for investors to sample. Dave’s commentaries are frequently featured in the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, IBD, and Smart Money.

  9. David C. Hooten, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Claymore

    David HootenHooten founded Claymore in 2001, and has since turned the firm into one of the most innovative ETF issuers. Among Claymore’s numerous ETF industry accomplishments are the introduction of the first Frontier Markets ETF (FRN), the first BRIC ETF (EEB), the first Intellectual Property ETF (OTP), and the first Solar Power ETF (TAN). Unlike traditional ETFs Claymore’s line of products seeks to best capture the investment potential of innovative strategies. Many of the company’s ETFs provide investment ideas within underutilized or ordinarily unavailable markets.

  10. Matthew Hougan, Editor-In-Chief of Index Universe

    Matt HouganHougan, who also serves as the senior editor of the Journal of Indexes, is one of the few analysts covering the industry who maintains a thorough understanding of the complexities and nuances of ETFs. IndexUniverse, which covers all things related to the world of indexing, is a must-read site for anyone interested in passive management. Under his leadership, the Exchange Traded Funds Report has been named “Best ETF-Focused Publication” at the Closed-End Fund & ETF Awards on multiple occasions. Hougan is known for identifying issues and trends far ahead of the crowd, most notably writing about the complexities of leveraged ETFs in 2007, years before the rest of the industry fully understood the potential for misuse with these funds.

  11. Lee Kranefuss, CEO of iShares

    Lee KranefussSince being hired as the chief executive of Barclays’ iShares division, Kranefuss has led the fund family to a dominant position in the rapidly-expanding ETF industry. With more than 180 ETFs and assets under management of $292 billion as of June 30, 2009, iShares is by far the market leader, due in no small part to Kranefuss’ guidance and long-term visions. With the recent sale of iShares (as part of the larger BGI package) to BlackRock, Kranefuss is expected to transition to become chairman of iShares, leaving day-to-day responsibilities to co-CEOs Mike Latham and Rory Tobin.

  12. Tom Lydon, President of Global Trends Investments and Editor of ETF Trends

    Tom LydonLydon has more than 20 years of experience in asset management, beginning his career with Fidelity before launching ETF Trends. One of the most visible sources of commentary on the ETF industry, Lydon regularly contributes to major print, radio, and television media. Lydon also serves on the boards of U.S. Global Investors, Rydex Funds, and Tiburon Strategic Advisors.

  13. Dr. Burton G. Malkiel, Chief Investment Officer of AlphaShares

    Burton MalkielMalkiel, perhaps best known as the author of the classic finance book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, is one of the most knowledgeable and well-respected proponents of the efficient market hypothesis [PDF]. As such, Malkiel, who once quipped “the one thing about which I am absolutely certain is that if I pay less in fees, there is going to be more for me,” seems to be a natural fan of the ETF model. In addition to serving as a director at Vanguard for 28 years, Malkiel is the CIO at AlphaShares, an investment management firm dedicated to providing investors with strategies and products that allow them to participate in China’s economic boom.

  14. Kathleen Moriarty, Partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

    Kathleen MoriartyMoriarty, an attorney in New York, was instrumental in the early development of the structure, creation, and registration of SPDRs, earning the affectionate nickname “spider woman” from industry insiders. (She has been spotted at industry conferences wearing a spider pin.) In addition to her work with SPDRs, Moriarty has advised other clients on the establishment of various ETFs, including iShares, VIPERS, ProShares, and WisdomTree. Beyond the U.S., Moriarty has assisted with the structure and creation of the Hong Kong Tracker Fund, and represented the American Stock Exchange in connection with the cross-listing of DIAMONDS on the Singapore Exchange and Euronext N.V.

  15. Nathan Most, ETF Pioneer

    Nathan MostAfter managing investments and trading in commodities for much of his career, Most conceived the idea of exchange-traded funds for American exchanges when he was 73. After several years of design work and haggling with regulators, the American Stock Exchange Started the Standard & Poor’s Depository Receipt, known as the Spider, in 1993. The idea initially sold very poorly, until Barclays, along with assistance from Most, introduces the iShares family of ETFs. SPY is now the largest ETF on the market, with a market capitalization of more than $47 billion, as of July 13, 2009. Most passed away in 2004.

  16. Joe Thomson, Founder of RevenueShares

    Joe ThomsonThomson founded RevenueShares, a division of Pacer Financial, in 2004. RevenueShares’ products feature a unique twist on traditional ETFs, applying revenue weighting methodologies to widely-followed equity indexes, including the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400, and S&P SmallCap 600. Thomson and RevenueShares president Sean O’Hara have published a significant amount of research on the benefits of revenue weighting, and many of the firm’s funds have outperformed their traditional capitalization-weighted peers in recent periods. Thomson has more than 40 years of experience in the financial services industry.

  17. Daniel D. O’Neill, President and Chief Investment Officer, Direxion Funds

    Dan O'NeillSince joining Direxion in 1999, O’Neill has played a role in the development and launch of new products, most notably Direxion’s 3x leveraged ETFs. In addition to a full line of leveraged and inverse-leveraged ETFs, Direxion also offers 2.5x leveraged mutual funds. Several of Direxion’s leveraged funds are among the most actively-traded ETFs on the market and are tremendously popular among advanced investors. In addition, the fund sponsor has been lauded for its efforts to educate investors on the risks and complexities associated with leveraged fund products.

  18. Adam S. Patti, CEO and Founder of IndexIQ

    Adam PattiAs founder of IndexIQ, Patti introduced a “Rules-Based Alpha” philosophy, which combines the benefits of traditional index investing with the alpha sought by active management. In March 2009, Patti’s firm launched IQ Hedge Multi-Strategy Tracker (QAI), the first hedge fund exchange-traded product. IndexIQ followed up its initial offering with IQ Hedge Macro Tracker (MCRO), a more strategy-specific hedge fund ETF. The firm has filed to launch more than a dozen additional ETFs, each tracking a unique hedge fund strategy, anticipating huge demand as investors grow cautious of traditional hedge funds. Prior to founding IndexIQ, Patti led Fortune Indexes, a pioneer in the ETF industry that launched two ETFs in 2000 in partnership with SSgA.

  19. Gus Sauter, Chief Investment Officer at Vanguard Group

    Gus SauterSimilar to his firm’s founder, Sauter has occasionally been critical of certain aspects of ETFs, but his contributions to the popularity of indexed investing and the ETF industry are truly remarkable. Over the past 20 years, Sauter has been more pivotal to the popularity of indexing strategies than anyone, except perhaps John Bogle. Unlike many of his peers, Sauter recognized the tremendous appeal and potential of ETFs early on, and Vanguard was one of the only major mutual fund companies to establish a significant presence in the ETF industry.

  20. Michael Sapir, Chairman and CEO at ProFunds

    Michael SapirSapir co-founded ProFund Advisors, and has served as the company’s chairman and CEO since its inception in 1997. ProShares is perhaps best known for pioneering the ProShares line of leveraged and inverse ETFs in 2006, and has since expanded its product line to include 88 ETFs. Sapir’s ProFunds Group also includes 115 mutual funds and manages the Canada-based Horizons BetaPro ETFs. Sapir has been a staunch defender of the benefits of leveraged funds, butting heads with regulators and the media on several occasions.

  21. Jeremy Siegel, Senior Investment Strategist at WisdomTree

    Jeremy SiegelWhile perhaps best known as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the “Wizard of Wharton” has made significant contributions to the ETF industry as well. Siegel has earned his nickname, frequently predicting major stock market tops and bottoms with astonishing accuracy. Siegel partnered with Michael Steinhardt, a legend in his own right, to develop a line of innovative ETFs at WisdomTree. Known as fundamentally-weighted ETFs, WisdomTree products determine weightings based on factors such as earnings and dividends rather than market capitalizations.

  22. William M. Thomas, CEO at Grail Advisors

    William ThomasThomas is a true ETF pioneer, overseeing the May 2009 launch of the first actively-managed ETF that provided its managers complete discretion in investment decisions, the Grail American Beacon Large Cap Value Fund (GVT). Since Grail launched GVT, several other ETF issuers have followed in the firm’s path, leading to speculation that actively-managed ETFs will drive the next wave of growth in the ETF industry. In addition to establishing itself as a trailblazer in the space, Grail is working to secure its position as the market leader, recently filing to launch four additional active ETFs. Previously the head of distribution at Charles Schwab Investment Management, Thomas is now responsible for guiding Grail in the continuing development and launch of actively-managed ETFs.

  23. Jan F. van Eck, President, CEO, and Trustee at Market Vectors ETF Trust

    Jan F. van EckJan heads Van Eck’s Market Vectors ETF business, which launched in 2006. The innovative Market Vectors product line includes hard asset ETFs offering indirect exposure to unique commodity and energy sectors, as well as region-specific funds focusing on Africa, Russia, and the Gulf States, among others. In addition to his role at Market Vectors, van Eck is also a member of the senior management team at Van Eck Associates Corporation and Van Eck Securities Corp.

  24. Carl Verboncoeur, CEO at Rydex SGI Investments

    Carl VerboncoeurFollowing the death of Alpert P. “Skip” Viragh in 2003, Verboncoeur was given the monumental task of following in the footsteps of the Rydex founder. In subsequent years, Verboncoeur was at the helm as the fund firm became a pioneer in the ETF industry by launching the first currency ETF in late 2005. The Rydex Euro Currency ETF was a hit among investors, and Rydex went on to expand its product line to include dozens of funds offering exposure to currencies around the globe.

  25. Jim Wiandt, Editor and Publisher of the Journal of Indexes

    Jim WiandtWiandt is responsible for compiling and reporting on all things related to the world of indexing through a variety of mediums, and, along with Matt Hougan, has provided exceptionally smart and in-depth coverage on a range of very complex issues. Wiandt provides daily news and ETF industry commentary through IndexUniverse.com, and more in-depth analysis through the Exchange-Traded Funds Report. Wiandt also is the author of Exchange Traded Funds (2001) and serves on the advisory board of IndexIQ.

Did we miss anyone?

If you know of someone who should have been included above, please leave a comment below.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.