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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Legg Mason Mulls Active ETFs

Reported by Adam Kommel

Legg Mason is considering offering actively managed ETFs, according to Matt Schiffman, head of retail at the Baltimore fund firm.

"The active ETF space may offer some opportunities for us," he told the audience at the Maximizing Distribution Impact by Channel discussion at the MFWire Influencers' Summit on Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston.

Acknowledging that Legg Mason missed the index-tracking ETF boat, he suggested that actively managed ETFs, which have so far not gained much popularity, may have potential.

But Schiffman said nothing final has been decided: "The jury is out," he said.

The panel consisted of Schiffman, John Cammack, who retired from his post as T. Rowe Price's head of third-party distribution, Hugh Kelly of Harbor Funds, and it was moderated by Mike Evans of Fuse Research Network.

Evans' question about what the next three to five years in distribution will be like elicited interesting prognostications from the panel.

Cammack thought the days of asset managers selling to individuals are numbered.

"It seems we're moving to a B2B model," between asset managers and wirehouses, Cammack said.

Kelly called the business "more and more difficult," citing "more and more compression of fees."

Schiffman said that people are going to move toward "outcome-oriented products," where results are more predictable, in a reaction to the steep losses so many people suffered in 2008. 

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