If You Buy The “ETF ETF,” You’ve Gone Full Retard – Here’s Why

I’ve written a more polite version of this elsewhere, but I think it deserves to be given the unfiltered treatment here at HR.

More than a dozen readers have written in asking for my opinion on something called “The ETF Industry Exposure & Financial Services ETF,” ticker: TETF.

Basically, this is an ETF that tracks an index comprised of names that are assumed to be the beneficiaries of the rampant proliferation of exchange traded products.

I’m not going to mince words. You’d have to be a special kind of retarded to “invest” in this.

It took me about 15 minutes to come up with a list of reasons why this is a terrible idea from an investment perspective. Let me just run through a few of them real fast.

First of all, the day-to-day management of this thing is left to three guys who work for Penserra Capital Management LLC. Those three guys are Dustin Lewellyn, Ernesto Tong, and Anand Desai.

Well, before Penserra, Dustin worked at Charles Schwab, Ernesto was a VP at BlackRock, and Anand was an accountant at State Street.


Got that? Ok, good.

So the index this ETF tracks was built by Toroso Investments LLC and is made up of a group of companies that are broken out into tiers. “Tier A” is weighted at 50%.

And can you believe it? BlackRock, State Street, and Schwab all made it into “Tier A,” which means Dustin, Ernesto, and Anand are funneling money into their former employers’ shares.


So that’s one thing.

And then there’s the fact that the fucking expense ratio is 0.64%, which makes exactly 0% sense because you could buy XLF for 14 basis points and invest in a lot of the same damn companies.

Further, “Tier B” includes Virtu and KCG (which Virtu is buying), which means anyone buying this ETF is investing in algos. I’d be willing to bet that’s news to some folks who have already thrown their money at TETF.

Lastly, it doesn’t take a leap of logic to come to the conclusion that in the event we get a more catastrophic and longer-lasting version of what happened on the morning of August 24, 2015, anyone in this ETF is going to be doubly fucked.

They’ll be fucked because they own an ETF in a flash-crashing market that plays havoc with the creation/destruction process and causes NAV disconnects.

And they’ll be fucked because by Virtu virtue of being invested in TETF, they’ll be the proud owners of shares in all the companies that will invariably be blamed when everyone starts looking for who caused the meltdown.

So yeah. Full retard.

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4 thoughts on “If You Buy The “ETF ETF,” You’ve Gone Full Retard – Here’s Why

  1. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea, but you have to salute the increasingly recursive and self-referential nature of life in the ETF bubble.

    Somebody should should start an ETF that holds shares of all other ETFs starting with the letter A, then with B, then with C, etc., etc. (Alphabetical indices, you could call them.)

    Then, once that’s all set up, they could start an ETF that holds shares in all ETFs that track alphabetical indices of other ETFs.

    Reiterate as often as desired.

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