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Morningstar® ETF Conference


Chicago 2017


September 6–8 | Hyatt Regency Chicago


Morningstar presents the latest developments in the exchange-traded fund space. Our ETF-focused event presents tactics, strategies, and portfolio insights for financial professionals. 


Our Speakers


Tap into a dialogue about the latest developments in the ETF industry.


Andrew Ang

Jamil Baz

Chris Brightman
Research Affiliates

Joseph Davis

Barry L. Ritholtz
Ritholtz Wealth Management

Richard H. Thaler
The University of Chicago


On the Agenda


Agenda is subject to change.


12–7 p.m.

Registration Open

1–2 p.m.

Morningstar Manager Research Highlights

Research Showcase

Ben Johnson, Morningstar

Ben Johnson, Morningstar’s director of global ETF research, will share findings from a pair of new research reports. First, he’ll take an in-depth look at the methodology underlying Morningstar’s semiannual Active/Passive Barometer study and share the results of the mid-2017 installment. He’ll also share highlights from Morningstar’s fourth annual Global Guide to Strategic-Beta Exchange-Traded Products, which examines trends in asset flows, product development, and fees in this quickly growing corner of the market.

2–3 p.m.

Morningstar’s Approach to ETF Due Diligence

Research Showcase

Alex Bryan, Morningstar

Alex Bryan, Morningstar’s director of passive strategies research for North America, will provide a detailed overview of how Morningstar’s manager research team applies their due-diligence framework in assigning Morningstar Analyst Ratings to ETFs and index funds. He’ll go through a series of case studies covering everything from ETFs tracking broad, market-capitalization-weighted indexes to those tied to strategic-beta benchmarks.


Does It Pay to Invest in Companies With Economic Moats?

Research Showcase

Erin Lash, Morningstar / Chris Higgins, Morningstar / Andrew Lane, Morningstar / Daniel Lefkovitz, Morningstar

A focus on companies with competitive advantages, or economic moats, is a hallmark of Morningstar’s equity analysis. Moats drive long-term profitability, but moats on their own are insufficient for stable growth trajectories. Valuation is a key to outperforming the market as stock prices eventually converge with fair value. In this session, our analysts will discuss where investors can buy moats at a discount in today’s turbulent markets. 

3–4 p.m.

Assessing the Stewardship Practices of Index Mutual Fund and ETF Providers

Research Showcase

Adam McCullough, Morningstar

Manager research analyst Adam McCullough will cover the key findings of research examining the stewardship practices of sponsors of index mutual funds and ETFs. This work examines the alignment of these firms’ interests with those of their fund shareholders and singles out some of the best prospective partners for investors in these funds.

4:30–4:35 p.m.

Opening Remarks

Ben Johnson, Morningstar

4:35–5:30 p.m.

The Trend That Will Define Our Lifetime

Opening Keynote

Joe Davis, Vanguard

The U.S. and global economies will undergo a dramatic transformation as several large global forces take hold. In this session, Joe Davis, Vanguard's global chief economist and head of the Investment Strategy Group, discusses economic and investment trends and the implications for the economy and the markets.

5:30–7:00 p.m.

Opening Reception in Exhibit Hall

7:30 a.m.–7 p.m.

Registration Open

7:45–8:30 a.m.

Breakfast in the Exhibit Hall

8:30–9:30 a.m.

Frontiers of Factor Investing

General Session 1

Andrew Ang, BlackRock

Is the popularity of smart beta and factor strategies leading to capacity and crowding concerns? Can investors time in and out of factors to pursue additional returns? BlackRock’s Andrew Ang explores hotly debated topics circling factor investing today.

9:30–10:30 a.m.

Pitfalls in Smart Beta: Data Mining, Selection Bias, and Performance Chasing

General Session 2

Chris Brightman, Research Affiliates

Chris Brightman explores how widespread trend chasing—allocating money to what is popular and likely expensive—hurts investors. Many, sometimes unwittingly, trend chase due to data-mining and selection bias, where historical rising valuations are misconstrued for persistent alpha. To improve outcomes and “win” in smart beta, investors should emphasize strategies that are trading cheap relative to their historical norms and deemphasize those that are expensive.

10:30–10:50 a.m.


10:50–11:40 a.m.

Making Sense of the Multitude of Multifactor ETFs

Track: Strategic

Lukas Smart, Dimensional Fund Advisors / Kal Ghayur, Goldman Sachs / Rob Nestor, BlackRock / Adam McCullough, Morningstar

Multifactor ETFs have multiplied in recent years. Spreading one’s factor bets makes sense, but making sense of the current menu of these funds is a tall task. Our expert panel will unpack the key considerations investors should take when doing their due diligence on these funds.  


Defensive Equity Investing

Track: Tactical

Darby Nielson, Fidelity Investments / Raman Aylur Subramanian, MSCI / Jason Stoneberg, PowerShares by Invesco / Alex Bryan, Morningstar

Should interest rates continue to rise, investors in stodgy traditional strategies may be in for a surprise. Panelists will discuss how playing defense through buying dividend payers and less volatile stocks may leave their flank exposed in a rising rate environment.

11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

Is There Potential for Strategic Beta in Fixed Income?

Track: Strategic

Sal Bruno, Index IQ / Martin Kremenstein, Nuveen Investments / Kevin Flanagan, WisdomTree / Phillip Yoo, Morningstar

While strategic-beta ETFs have proliferated in the equity space, the fixed-income arena still looks relatively ripe for new approaches to building bond portfolios. This discussion will focus on the current crop of strategic-beta bond ETFs and what the future might hold for rules-based bets on bonds.


Shades of Value

Track: Tactical

Wes Gray, Alpha Architect / John Ameriks, Vanguard / John West, Research Affiliates / Daniel Sotiroff, Morningstar

Value strategies come in many different approaches, each of which might yield very different investment outcomes. Our expert panel will discuss the varieties of value approaches and how investors might select the one that best suits their tastes.

12:45–2 p.m.

A Conversation With Richard Thaler and Barry Ritholtz

Richard Thaler, University of Chicago / Barry Ritholtz, Ritholtz Wealth Management

Richard Thaler has spent decades debunking the notion that we can truly be rational economic actors. It is perhaps not surprising that his field of study, behavioral finance, has been viewed as a form of misbehavior. Barry Ritholtz, CIO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, will engage Thaler in a conversation about his body of research, which has spanned everything from fixing 401(k)s to the fairness of price-gouging practices.

2:10–3 p.m.

Not All Small-Cap Indexes Are Created Equal

Track: Strategic

Craig Lazzara, S&P Dow Jones Indices / Rolf Agather, FTSE/Russell Investments / Paul Kim, Principal Global Investors / Ben Johnson, Morningstar

Small-cap stocks are an essential ingredient in a well-diversified portfolio. For investors opting for a passive approach in the small-cap space, understanding index construction is paramount, as differences in the makeup of small-cap benchmarks are material. This discussion will center on those differences and frame them in the context of asset allocation.


Tricks of the Trade

Track: Tactical

David Mann, Franklin Templeton Investments

Trading ETFs can be tricky business. This trading tutorial will cover best practices in ETF trading and how to navigate the ebbs and flows of ETF liquidity.

3:10–4 p.m.

How Is the Rise of Passive Investing Influencing Corporate Governance?

Track: Strategic

Michelle Edkins, BlackRock / Glenn Booraem, Vanguard / Rakhi Kumar, State Street Global Advisors / Ben Johnson, Morningstar

The growth in assets under management in index funds and ETFs has consolidated ownership of many stocks among a small handful of asset managers. Our panel will discuss how these firms are using their sway to influence corporate agendas and whether passive investors can be agents of change.


The Case for International Equities

Track: Tactical

Fran Kinniry, Vanguard / Jeremy Schwartz, WisdomTree / Michael Arone, State Street Global Advisors / Alex Bryan, Morningstar

It’s been tough to make the case for international diversification in recent years, as U.S. stocks have trounced their counterparts overseas. Is the case for international diversification dead? Our panel will explore the rationale for building a portfolio of stocks that extends beyond U.S. borders.

4–4:30 p.m.


4:30–5:30 p.m.

Why Investors Fear the Wrong Things and What You Can Do About It

General Session 3

Barry Ritholtz, Ritholtz Wealth Management

How do our fears impact performance? What do irrational fears do to us as asset managers and fiduciaries? How can we fix our clients' - and our own - worst behaviors?

5:30–7 p.m.

Reception in Exhibit Hall

7:30 a.m.–12 p.m.

Registration Open

7:45–8:30 a.m.

Breakfast in Exhibit Hall

8:30–9:30 a.m.

Active Versus Passive Funds: Why Bonds Are Different

General Session 4

Jamil Baz, PIMCO / Miriam Sjoblom, Morningstar

This presentation highlights the difference between stocks and bonds in the active-passive debate. It presents empirical findings and discusses institutional differences between broad asset classes to explain performance numbers.

9:40–10:30 a.m.

Liquid Alternatives

Track: Strategic

Yasmin Dahya, J.P. Morgan / Nadia Papagiannis, Goldman Sachs / Tayfun Icten, Morningstar

Investors have long sought a “magic” asset class, one offering an uncorrelated source of returns. Are liquid alternatives an oasis in the desert or just a mirage? And can these strategies be effectively delivered via an ETF?


Picking Your Spots in Emerging Markets

Track: Tactical

Simeon Hyman, ProShares / Ted Lucas, Hartford Funds / Dan Rohr, Morningstar / Daniel Sotiroff, Morningstar

Emerging markets have gone from boom to bust. Some developing nations appear to be on the brink. Is there opportunity in crisis? What’s the best way to approach these markets?

10:30–11 a.m.


11 a.m.–12 p.m.

Meet the Pundits

Closing General Sesssion

Matt Hougan, Inside ETFs / Tom Lydon, ETF Trends / Crystal Kim, Barron's / Dave Nadig, / Ben Johnson, Morningstar

Our panel of industry watchers will have a no-holds-barred discussion of the latest trends in the land of ETFs.


When You Get Here


Welcome to Chicago


It’s Morningstar’s home and a hub for business and culture. At the Hyatt Regency Chicago, you'll be just steps away from Lake Michigan, dining, shopping, and more.


Where You’ll Stay


Unwind at the Hyatt Regency Chicago after a full day at the conference. The hotel is located right on the Chicago River in the center of the city. Get a special hotel rate if you book by August 15.




Hyatt Regency Chicago

151 East Wacker Drive

Chicago, IL, 60601

Book Your Room

Morningstar does not hire or authorize anyone to contact you to book your hotel rooms at the Hyatt Regency for the Morningstar Investment Conference. If you are contacted by a third party to book your room at the Hyatt for the Morningstar Investment Conference, please contact:


Thank You to Our Sponsors


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See you at the conference.