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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

25 Years of ETFs

News summary by MFWire's editors

25 years ago yesterday, the first U.S. ETF launched.

In a pair of articles, the Wall Street Journal looks back at the beginnings of State Street Global Advisors' (SSgA's [profile]) SPY, which at $292 billion is still the largest ETF around. The fund debuted on January 22, 1993 on the American Stock Exchange (Amex) with help from trading firm Spear Leeds & Kellogg and of course from State Street.

Fundsters feeling nostalgic or interested in history can interesting tidbits and reminders within, including comments from: Jim Ross, now chairman of SSgA's SPDRs business, who was a junior employee when SPY debuted; Joe Stefanelli, then in charge of Amex's derivative products marketing and sales, who retired in 2002; Jay Baker, then under Stefanelli and now Exchange Traded Concepts' (ETC's) head of capital markets; and Christian Magoon, CEO of Amplify ETFs.

The WSJ points to Steven Bloom and Nathan Most (then in new product development at the Amex) as putting the ETF idea together, along with Amex's Ivers Riley as "the driving force behind the product". Most died in 2004, and Riley died in 2015.

The articles also reflect on where the industry is now: $4.8 trillion in ETF AUM worldwide, including $3.4 trillion in the U.S. ETF business. Yet as Bloomberg highlights, much of the ETF industry's growth has been extremely concentrated in a few firms. Where is the ETF side of the asset management industry headed? Indeed, last week in the Big Apple, SSgA's Ross and others hosted an event pondering "the Next 25" years of ETFs, even as they celebrated SPY's silver anniversary. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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