Exchange-traded funds have been one of the fastest growing investment products in recent memory. There are now more than 170 U.S.-listed ETFs available, which are basically index funds that trade like stocks, with assets totaling close to a quarter-trillion dollars.
That's not bad for an asset class that began with a single fund in 1994 and started to gain steam only in the past two to three years.
Despite the explosion in ETF assets and products, the ETF market is still dominated by a few big players, notably Barclay's Global Investors and State Street Global Advisors.
Nevertheless, there is an upstart in the ETF world called Powershares, which is trying to elbow its way in by rolling out its own brand of "intelligent ETFs." Powershares says its ETFs will outperform traditional index ETFs by using quantitative analysis to retain only the top-performing index components.Powershares currently has 11 ETF products on the market, with about $930 million under management. The largest is the Powershares High Yield Dividend Achievers (PEY), with holdings of $375 million. The company plans to introduce eight new sector-based ETFs on June 23. In advance of that rollout, Bruce Bond, president of Powershares, stopped by TheStreet.com to talk about how the company plans to run with the big boys. To watch the StreetWatch video,