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ETF Insiders Explain Where the Industry Is Headed

Stocks in this article: EES ECON BBRC MLPX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- One of the things that makes the ETF industry important and interesting to be a part of is that it is a disruptive force in the investment world.

Earlier this week I had the chance to visit with executives from three ETF providers, and I asked them all the same question: Where do you believe ETF investors want the industry to go and what are you specifically doing to participate in that perceived vision?

Jeremy Schwartz, chief investment officer of WisdomTree Investments

Schwartz said ETFs provide transparency, liquidity, tax efficiency and low cost. He stressed transparency, asking rhetorically, "Do you want more transparency?" ETFs are generally cheaper than traditional mutual funds, and Schwartz says this creates a better "investor experience."

Schwartz said WisdomTree's role in the future will be to continue to add value to low-cost "beta." In this context, beta equates to basic index exposure such as buying the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY).

One recent example of how WisdomTree's funds add value is the Wisdom Tree Small Cap Earnings Fund (EES), which has outperformined its benchmark, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM), by more than 350 basis points in 2013.

Obviously, not every fund can outperform all the time, but WisdomTree has had long-term success with quite a few of its funds.

Bruno del Ama, CEO of Global X Funds

Del Ama also noted the starting-point benefits of ETFs, including transparency, liquidity, tax efficiency and low cost. In terms of Global X's role in the development of the industry, he says that passive broad exposure has been covered. His firm's clients have not come to Global X looking for another S&P 500 fund.

Several years ago specialized and even esoteric funds started coming to the market offering the opportunity for anyone to create a "sophisticated" portfolio.

This has been a democratizing force for investors and a positive development for his firm. Early to realize this opportunity, Global X's first fund was the FTSE Colombia 20 ETF (GXG), which came about because Global X saw demand for investment products targeting Colombia. Global X's founders knew investors who were willing to buy other, less-than-ideal investment products to gain exposure to this Latin American economy.

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