PowerShares, Van Eck Tie for Most Innovative U.S. ETF

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 |  Includes: AFK, MES, PLK, PMA, PQY, PQZ, SPY, XLB, XLE, XLU
by: Lawrence Carrel

Invesco PowerShares and Van Eck’s Market Vectors shared the 2008 award for the Most Innovative ETF the Americas at the 5th annual Global ETF Awards recently. Daiwa FTSE Sharia Japan 100 won Most Innovative ETF in Asia, while db x-trackers and Lyxor Asset Management tied in Europe.

The actual ETFs weren’t listed, as voters aren’t required to mention the fund’s name, just the firm’s. It’s probably just as well. I surmise that PowerShares won for producing the first family of active ETFs in the U.S. rather than any particular fund. PowerShares’ Active Alpha Multi Cap Fund (NYSE:PQZ), Active AlphaQ Fund (NYSE:PQY), Active Low Duration Fund (NYSEARCA:PLK) and the Active Mega-Cap Fund (NYSEARCA:PMA) were all launched on April 11, 2008. Does any one fund stand out as more innovative than the others? I don’t think so. I suggest they won more for bringing the active concept to the U.S. market.

PowerShares actually didn’t launch the first active ETF. It had been in a race to come out with the first active ETF, but lost to Bear Stearns by just a matter of weeks. However, when Bear Stearns died, so did its active fund, leaving PowerShares with the first viable active ETFs in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Market Vectors launched five ETFs last year. If I had to guess, I would say they won for their funds covering frontier markets, Africa Index ETF (NYSEARCA:AFK) and Gulf States Index ETF (NYSEARCA:MES).

The SPDRs brand of ETFs from State Street Global Advisors again won Most Recognized ETF Brand in the Americas. This is probably due to the fact that the SPDR (NYSEARCA:SPY) was the first ETF and is the largest and most liquid ETF on the U.S. market. But I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the ad campaign for Select Sector SPDRs.

These commercials, which run often on CNBC, show spiders building webs in the industry-signifying shapes such as an oil derrick for the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLE), a hard hat for the Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLB) or light bulb for Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLU). The ad makes a really good connection between the name SPDR and that fact that these are funds to invest in. SPDR also surprised many people by winning Most Informative Website, SPDRS.com. The site is a big advancement over the previous incarnation and much easier to use.

The Global ETF Awards are like the Oscars of the ETF industry. They are unique on Wall Street, because as far as I know these are the only awards in which an industry is invited to vote on itself. This makes winning extremely special because it’s your competitors who say you’ve done a good job, rather than a few individuals.

Some people who read my previous note about the awards seemed to think the conference and awards deal only with the international market. That’s not right. As I clearly stated previously, it’s the only conference that deals with BOTH U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL issues. Nearly every company in the U.S. ETF industry attended and many had representatives speaking on panels. However, unlike other ETF conference I’ve attended, which are completely focused on the U.S., this conference also addresses issues affecting ETF providers outside the U.S.

It was a great opportunity to network with not just State Street (NYSE:STT), Bank of New York Mellon (NASDAQ:NK), ProShares, PowerShares and Barclays (NYSE:BCS), to name a few, but also representatives from the Bank of Ireland, France’s Lyxor, the London Stock Exchange and China Asset Management.

The conference and awards dinner are presented by ExchangeTradedFunds.com and were held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

For the complete list of winners go to ExchangeTradedFunds.com.

Disclsosure: No positions