Significant Year: Are machines better than managers? Is math better than human experience and intuition? Many think so. This epic duel has been reported on and off over the past 30 - years; however, 2006 saw the battle take front and center stage on Wall Street as the growth of the ETF market exploded. Jim Wiandt, editor of The Journal of Indexes, claims that 2006 saw the index industry become the financial industry's leading source of innovation. Although biased, his claims are supported in part by the record 132 new ETF products that hit the market last year according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI). ICI also reports that the ETF industry's assets grew a robust 37% in 2006 (source ICI.org). There appears to be no slowdown. According to Joe Keenan, managing director of Bank of New York, there could be another 200 or 300 new rollouts in 2007: "If we thought [the ETF industry] heated up in 2006, it's absolutely going to heat up in 2007".
Two No-Load Funds: In the history of this match-up, one company now seeks to provide an annual venue to let these two behemoths duke it out in the global arena. Giant 5 Funds, the Colorado-based mutual fund company, is fielding two fund of funds teams for the first, annual event: FIVEX vs. INDEX. "These two no-load Funds are identical except that FIVEX uses managers and INDEX uses index funds and ETFs. We believe that our underlying funds represent the best of both worlds", says Michael Willis, lead portfolio manager at Giant 5 Funds. Except for their opposing style of management, the Giant 5 funds give investors an almost identical opportunity to hold more than 20 unique portfolios which are invested in five essential themes that track the firm's core investment philosophy: an "invest-where-you-spend" asset allocation plan designed to find industry sectors and companies that represent where the world spends its money. The portfolios include real estate, raw materials, energy, capital markets and bonds.
-- Team FIVEX: Representing "man" and playing for the "Mutual Fund Conference (MFC)" is team FIVEX. This team is made up of more than 20 investment managers selected from 23 different mutual fund families." -- Team INDEX: Representing "machine" and playing for the "Index Fund Conference (IFC)" is Team INDEX. This team is made up of more than 20 indexes and ETFs representing 8 different mutual fund and ETF companies."
Man -v- Machine The Epic Battle Continues
To view the battle between INDEX and FIVEX, click on any of the month links in the left hand column.