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By Ashley Redmond | 11-06-2012 12:00 AM

Canadian Investment Awards- BMO's ETF submission

Outlining BMO's submission for the ETF Initiative Award being handed out at the 2012 Morningstar Canadian Investment Awards.

Ashley Redmond: I'm here with Alfred Lee from BMO. Thanks so much for joining me.

Alfred Lee: My pleasure.

Redmond: So the Morningstar Canadian Investment Awards are being held November 28 at the Fairmont Royal York, right here in Toronto. We're getting really excited about the awards. Now, throughout the evening there are various award categories, one is submission-based awards. This year we're going to have six submission-based awards and they are Best Discount Brokerage, Canadian Investment Marketing Award, Career Achievement, IFIC Investor Education Award, Best Use of Technology and of course the one we're here to discuss today, ETF Initiative Award.

Now for this category, companies can submit a variety of initiatives, anything from resources on their website to conferences to educational initiatives. And BMO actually submitted an educational initiative, so Alfred, why don't you tell me about that?

Lee: Sure, we believe education in the ETF space is increasingly important right now given that ETFs have become extremely popular with many types of investors. We see ETFs being popular with larger investors, such as institutional investors and asset managers and also in the retail oriented world, such as advisors and do-it-yourselfers. So, what we want to do is just equip these investors with the right education from the get go and that basically ensures that they have a good user experience. From there we want to do our part to ensure that the ETF industry continues to grow as we've seen over the last three to five years.

We're fully confident that if investors fully understand ETFs and the mechanics behind ETFs, then they could fully understand their full benefits and how they could be applied to a portfolio – and in terms of their investment strategy as well.

Redmond: Okay, great. BMO is the second largest provider of ETFs in Canada, so at BMO do you feel pressure to educate investors and to go along with that, do you ever feel like there is a disconnect with investors since you are the second largest?

Lee: Absolutely not. We actually find it pretty easy to connect with a lot of investors. We've been fortunate to see an extreme growth at BMO ETFs over the last three years. I think a lot of this is due to our dedication to education and also our accessibility, so a lot of the things that we focused on this year, were increase the amount of conferences that we attend, and increase the amount seminars that we held.

I think a key differentiation with us is that we have an ETF specialist team – so these ETF specialists basically what they are, are local experts – so that basically allows us to extend our reach and allows us to have a local voice. So, a lot of the investors in different parts of Canada, if they have questions, the ETF specialists are there to address them.

Redmond: Okay, great. And as part of your submission, I know one thing that you are really proud of is the BMO Roadshow that you guys included in the submission. So why don't you tell me about that.

Lee: Absolutely. One thing we did was – as I mentioned before, ETF education has always been important to us – but one thing that we did this year was we took on a huge initiative, the ETF Essentials roadshow.

So what we did was, we targeted eight different Canadian cities, so eight major Canadian cities from the east coast to west coast and what we wanted to do was just highlight a lot of the different things around ETFs or some of the more common questions revolving around ETFs. So everything from ETFs 101 to the more complex issues surrounding ETFs as well. What we did was we talked about ETFs not only from the perspective of BMO, but also from a lot of industry insiders such as the TSX, market makers and independent ETF analysts as well as.

So, what we wanted to do was give an objective view of ETFs and some of the common topics that we talked about were portfolio construction, liquidity, ETFs from the perspective of market makers or the exchange and also ETF investment strategies as well, as we know right now we're going through a pretty unique time in the markets right now and how you could use ETFs to apply them in terms of your investment strategy.

Redmond: Okay, Great. And so for investors who actually caught that roadshow that would have been a great learning opportunity.

Lee: Absolutely. The feedback we got was very positive. I think the common feedback that we received was that a lot of the investors appreciated a platform where investors could basically ask all the questions that they wanted – everything from the simple questions to more complex questions. And the industry insiders have a different perspective – not only our point of view, but the different industry players as well. After the event what we did was we held a networking event, so it was a more relaxed situation where they could ask questions they wanted in a more relaxed setting to either the panelist or the presenters.

Redmond: Okay, great. Thanks so much Alfred.

Lee: My pleasure.

Redmond: And good luck at the Canadian Investment Awards.

Lee: Thank you.

Redmond: And for everyone watching, if you need more information, go to investmentawards.com.

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