Concerns about an over-proliferation of ETFs, curiosity regarding how market demand will shape product innovation and questions about the direction of regulation are expected to punctuate discussions among those attending the 19th annual IMN global Indexing and ETF Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., that begins on Dec. 7.
Dave Gedeon, associate vice president at Nasdaq and an event panelist, says attendees likely will seek answers to questions regarding market trend forecasts for next year.
"What products will people want or need if we enter the long-predicted downward or sideways market in 2015?" Gedeon asks. "What will a downturn do to the recent all-time highs in flow and net assets? What impact will a new market cycle have? A year ago the experts predicted 2014 to be a sideways year, but we saw great growth in the Nasdaq-100, among other indicators."
Gedeon will be part of an afternoon panel at the event devoted to discussing how the smart beta concept can be applied in asset classes outside of equities.
He adds that he has his own questions that he wants to pose to fellow panelists attending the event as well.
"I am hoping to further understand the barriers for new entrants and what new entrants can do to separate themselves in the ETF marketplace," Gedeon says. "What can the large active mutual fund providers do to compete against the established players in the index and ETF space?"
David Koenig, indexes investment strategist at Russell Investments, will be speaking on a panel that will examine investing in small cap stocks.
"Small cap equity market benchmarks such as the Russell 2000 Index provide accurate lenses for measuring the behavior of the small cap equity market segment, serve as accurate benchmarks for assessing the skill of professional investment managers and form the basis for passive investment products," he says. "While allocations to small cap stocks have grown, they are often still underrepresented in a global equity portfolio."
Koenig adds he also would be interested in hearing more about the growth of smart beta strategies and how they can be used to help enhance returns, reduce risk, generate income and add diversification within client portfolios.
"I'm also looking forward to learning more about the growing adoption of ETFs among institutional investors, global multi-asset portfolio construction and trends in risk management."
Emerging markets will be a focus for Kevin Carter, CEO of the EMQQIndex, which focuses on E-commerce leaders in emerging economies. He explains his panel will cover what he says are serious flaws in primary emerging market indexes and ETFs.
"For example, how massive state-owned enterprises dominate, and how Alibaba, Baidu and others are not," Carter says. "I'll also discuss how emerging market E-commerce is growing at 40% to 50% a year and is the most important part of the emerging and frontier market growth story. Legacy index providers are not keeping up with globalization and it's time for investors to start asking serious questions about the major indexes."
Eric Ervin, the co-founder, president and CEO of Reality Shares, is seeking general peer opinion on industry practices and trends affecting the ETF market. But the event is also an opportunity to get market feedback on products, Ervin adds, as his San Diego, Calif.-based firm plans to launch a new ETF later this month.
"As a former financial advisor and a new ETF product issuer, it's crucial for me to determine whether or not clients are able to sift through the noise of the multitude of offerings that are coming out of the ETF industry," Ervin says. "In other words, what's another me-too product versus true innovation?"