As global head of beta strategies at BlackRock, Amy Schioldager is one of three women on BlackRock's 23-member global executive committee. She's also a founding member of BlackRock's Women's Initiative, which aims to foster the potential of more than 4,000 women at BlackRock.

Schioldager's work in passive management has been a cornerstone of her career. Starting out at San Francisco-based Barclays Global Investors fresh out of college, she's risen up the ranks with roles that ranged from head of indexing, head of domestic equity portfolio management and head of international equity portfolio management.

She was responsible for BlackRock's first ETF portfolios in 1996. At the time, she recalls being told that ETFs would never be accepted.

"There was only one other ETF -- State Street's SPDR ETF, but no one understood the ETF then."

Schioldager's early work helped lead to the creation of iShares, which took a third of the U.S. ETF industry's record $242 billion inflows last year.

Schioldager predicts that providers specializing in ETFs and other fund offerings that focus on the environment and social good will be well-positioned. She notes that investors, particularly millennials, are increasingly looking for opportunities that advance their social and financial goals at the same time.

One example of the company's work in this area is the recent launch of a low carbon ETF from iShares.

With more information available online, customers will scrutinize the relevance of intermediaries, she says, predicting product distribution will be more challenging in the future.

"The pace of innovation is accelerating," she says. "Winners will be those firms that modernize the consumer experience, embrace technology and make it easier for their customers to interact and do business with them - on the customers' terms."

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