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SMSF Awards 2016: ETF provider winner

Product innovation and client service delivery have been paramount to the success of BlackRock’s iShares, which has been voted as the best provider for exchange-traded funds (ETF) by advisers for the second year in a row.

Currently, iShares has 33 ETFs available, catering to financial advisers and investors looking for quality products and the breadth of the offering provided at a low cost.

IShares Australia head of wealth Alex Zaika says that with the growing maturation of Australia’s ETF sector, advisers and investors are finding it increasingly difficult to determine what is the best ETF for their portfolios.

“When we launch ETFs here in Australia, we try to think about what’s suitable through the lens of an Australian investor,” Zaika says.

“The benchmarks that we work with, the strategies that we bring, the fees, the product structure, all these things go towards differentiating us from our competitors.”

The launch of iShares’ Global Fixed Income ETF range was a key milestone for the company in the past year as it had been difficult for Australian investors in the past to build a total diversified portfolio using ETFs because the range of fixed income offerings was limited, he says.

“One of the key parts of a diversified portfolio is not just focusing on Australian fixed income, but incorporating global fixed income and we brought that innovation forward by launching three global fixed income ETFs,” he says.

“I think the core suite is also a real game changer for us and it has been very well received by investors so far.

“The wonderful thing about iShares is that we are part of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. We have incredible scale so that allows us to bring more products to the Australian market at a much lower cost.”

The increasingly price-conscious nature of Australian investors has led to a greater emphasis being placed on the quality of product as well as the fees of ETFs.

“Fees are very important for Australian investors, just as they’re important for investors all over the world,” Zaika says.

“When you look at the core suite of ETFs that iShares has, they’re all either the lowest cost or equal lowest cost on the Australian market.”

In the coming months, he says a key priority for iShares will be to continue expanding the distribution team that works with financial planners and making sure the company is providing the best service possible to its customers.

Another key area of focus will be introducing new types of ETFs and exposures for Australian investors.

“It’s about making sure that our product suite is relevant for Australian investors and ensuring that we are plugging any gaps that are on the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), or any gaps that are within our product line-up,” Zaika says.

“We need to make sure we continue to bring quality products to the Australian market and we need to make sure we continue to service clients so that all the information they need is at hand.”

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