Yield of Dreams

BlackRock’s ETF Darling to Leave After Three Years

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Deborah_FuhrDeborah Fuhr, the darling of the ETF research sphere and managing director at BlackRock, will be leaving the firm, amid a restructuring of the firm’s investment research. The firm put out a very vague statement announcing the changes to its ETF research today.

When asked for further comment on why she was leaving, where she’d be going and whether she was given the boot or not, BlackRock spokeswoman Christine Hudacko said the firm could not comment on personnel matters. She did say that Fuhr was leaving “to pursue other opportunities.” Fuhr could not be reached.

Coincidentally, Fuhr just recently visited our offices on July 1, giving me an extensive look at the ETF industry and trends to look out for. She didn’t mention anything about her departure or the research restructuring. I have to give her credit, though, for showing up at 4:30 p.m. on the Friday afternoon before a long holiday weekend.

Fuhr joined the firm in September 2008, at the height of the market crisis, and prior to that spent 11 years as head of the investment strategies group at Morgan Stanley. Lately, she’s known around our office for her extensive and comprehensive ETF Landscape reports, which drill down the ETF industry. (I should know—she gave me two very heavy reports.)

When I sat down with Fuhr, she said her main concern was that investors and advisors don’t understand the structure of ETFs from a performance, regulatory, and tax point of view. These reports can add a lot of value to advisors in helping them to understand the complex and large ETF world. Other tools also help with this.

BlackRock announced that it plans to consolidate its investment research into the new BlackRock Investment Institute. It’s unknown whether she’ll be replaced, but under the BlackRock Investment Institute, Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at iShares, will help define the ETF research agenda, the company said. According to the release:

While we will continue to publish research under the "ETF Landscape" brand, we'll also be looking to provide deeper insights, analysis and commentary on the fast-growing ETF marketplace to our clients, the broader investment community and interested media.

How much deeper can you get? I think Fuhr’s 100-page quarterly novels were pretty comprehensive. Perhaps the restructuring played a part in her departure, but we don't know for sure. It’ll be interesting to see where she lands and what other contributions she makes to the $1 trillion—and growing—ETF industry.

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Casting a gimlet-eye on asset management issues.

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