Deborah Fuhr started her career in ETFs back in 1997 with Morgan Stanley. Since then, she has gone on to work for BlackRock and NASDAQ before her current role as founder and managing partner of ETFGI. Deborah is also a founder and board member of the organisation Women in ETFs.
Where and what did you study?
Deborah Fuhr: I did my undergraduate in Connecticut before going on to do my MBA, finance in business and marketing, in Illinois.
How did you get in to the ETF industry?
I was initially speaking to a recruiter at Morgan Stanley in the marketing equity division. The recruiter ended up changing departments and asked if I would be interested in an ETF role which I accepted back in 1997.
What's the proudest moment of your ETF career?
I'm very proud of the recognition I've received from the ETF industry as well as completing a number of significant partnerships. I'm also very proud of the growth and success Women in ETFs has received.
Proudest moment outside of work?
I have done numerous long distance swims and triathlons which required a lot of hard and intense training so I'm very proud of completing them.
What are your goals over the next five years?
I wish to continue growing ETFGI as the leading source of insight and research for the global ETF and ETP ecosystem, keeping abreast of what is happening globally. Also to keep regularly visiting a new country to see how ETFs are being adopted and used. I've visited 63 countries so far and managed to see some amazing places ranging from Lebanon to Nigeria, Kenya and Saudi Arabia.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy keeping fit. Very passionate about seeing the world and exploring the outdoors as well as kayaking and other challenging activities.
How will the ETF industry evolve over the next 10 years or is it currently missing something?
Distinction is going fade which we have to be careful of as people such as consultants call ETFs an 'asset class' which is damaging to people who use them. They are just a fund with added benefits such as being listed and traded on an exchange. Index and active sides of it are expanding so we shouldn’t pigeonhole them and we need to stay away from classifying them. I could see some big names like Google and Amazon coming out with an ETF from the use of big data. The data they have available to them would be a strong indicator of what people want.
What challenges does the industry face?
Currently being misunderstood such as being incorrectly named as an asset class. It's very commonly asked whether ETFs have portfolios managers so I would say education is lacking. Additionally there are concerns over liquidity but ETFs continue to evolve such as benchmarks and active products now on offer.
How does your company stand out from the rest?
ETFGI is unique in covering global ETP and ETF data. We use different sources to report data which isn’t available to other companies. Additionally, the 63 countries I've visited has enabled us to gain a better understanding of different region's uses of ETFs. Many things are frequently changing so its hard to not know what is going on, on the ground. Therefore the research, consulting and events we offer differentiate us from the rest, I would say.
What is your favourite ETF and why?
A number of ETFs are useful for asset allocation in a portfolio so it is hard to pick just one. I tend to prefer developed asset allocation at a low cost.
What job would you have if you weren't in ETFs?
Growing up, I wanted to be a vet as I really enjoy animals but I'm very happy with my career choice.