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Special Report

2014 Morningstar ETF Conference

Get investable ideas and engaging strategies from Morningstar analysts and other ETF experts.

Since our first ETF Conference in 2010, the exchange-traded fund industry has continued to grow and evolve. ETFs are attracting an ever-larger share of assets as investors seek low-cost, passive investments, and a slew of new products has expanded the space from plain-vanilla equity index funds into more exotic products. But how can investors navigate this increasingly complex landscape to build better portfolios and position themselves in today's market?

This year's conference, Sept. 17-19 in Chicago, shed some light on ETF investors' best practices today, including panel discussions about the rise of strategic-beta funds, how to best invest in fixed income using ETFs, where it may pay to hire an active manager, and how to tap emerging markets.

Keynote speakers included Nobel laureate Eugene Fama and BlackRock's Russ Koesterich.

For those who couldn't attend this year's event, Morningstar.com offered on-the-spot coverage and commentary, including video interviews with the presenters and session recaps:

Conference Coverage

Special Report: What You Need to Know About 'Strategic Beta'
As a growing number of new ETFs straddle the line between active and passive, investors are faced with a dizzying array of increasingly complex choices. Here's the compass you need to navigate. Download the Full PDF Report.

Koesterich: This Bull Market Can Survive Higher Rates
The U.S. economy and stock market should be able to absorb a measured rise in rates starting next year, but investors should expect subsequent raises to come soon after, says BlackRock's Russ Koesterich.

Peters: Know What You Want From Dividend ETFs
There can be good reasons to own dividend-focused ETFs, but investors looking for pure income may be better off in individual stocks, says Morningstar’s Josh Peters.

Fama: Active Management a Bad Bet
Nobel Prize winner cites lower costs and questions about active manager skill as reasons to stick with index funds. 

Schneider: Volatility Will Be a Primary Focus for Investors
As Fed policy tightens over the short term, investors will have to actively manage interest rate exposure while looking ahead to a 'new neutral' in the next three to five years, says PIMCO's Jerome Schneider.

Complexity Doesn't Equal Value
A cheap, rules-based, quantitative approach that minimizes behavioral biases is a better bet over time than overly complex strategies, says Alpha Architect founder and Drexel professor Wes Gray.

Kelly: Stiffer Headwinds Up Ahead
Constrained labor force and productivity growth will add up to only 2% real growth for the U.S. economy over the long term, says J.P. Morgan's David Kelly.

Yield Investors: What You're Looking For Isn't There
In today's environment, income investors must settle for relative attractiveness, such as in dividend-paying equities, in a space that is not attractive overall, says State Street Global Advisors' Chris Goolgasian.

Rise in Rates Not Always Bad for Bond Investors
If you have a long time horizon, the extra income from higher rates will offset short-term losses, says Vanguard's Josh Barrickman.

Smithie: Emerging-Markets Indexes Have Let Investors Down
Emerging Global Advisors' Nick Smithie says standard indexes put too much weight on larger countries and sectors, with inadequate exposure to rising domestic demand.

When Does It Make Sense to Use a Strategic Beta Fund?
Investors may consider four levers in allocating their portfolios between traditional index, actively managed, and new strategic beta funds, says Schwab's Tony Davidow.

Dispelling ETF Trading Myths
WisdomTree's David Abner's discusses how investors should think about volume, liquidity, market and limit orders.

Alternative ETFs Gaining Traction
Multi-alternatives and merger arbitrage ETFs are gaining adoption as advisors look to limit downside risk and address a challenging fixed-income environment, says IndexIQ's Adam Patti.

Faber: Income Investors Shouldn't Overlook Buybacks
Given how expensive dividend stocks have become today, it's even more important for yield-seeking investors to also consider buybacks in order to maximize their returns, says Cambria's Mabane Faber.

Non-Traditional Bond Indexes: Know the Bets They're Making
Fixed-income indexes that aren’t market-cap weighted may have some merit, but investors need to carefully study the active bets being made, says BlackRock's Matt Tucker.

Low Volatility Earns Its Keep in Tough Times
Low-vol strategies may limit investors' upside in a bull market, but their truncated downside risk may be worth the trade-off in the long run, says S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Craig Lazzara.

Dickson: Active or Passive, the Key Is Costs
Investors can succeed with active, passive, or a mix of both kinds of funds--so long as they mind the fees, says Vanguard's Joel Dickson.

2 ETFs That Beat a Better Path to Emerging Markets
Morningstar's Patty Oey says these funds provide better exposure to emerging-markets growth than traditional market-cap weighted products.