Distribution must be backed up by a strong brand push, Alma Piscitello, Senior VP and head of Strategic Relationships and Northern Lights Distributors, told FA. She added smaller shops in particular lacking brand awareness, need to focus on advertising and marketing. “For ETF players, if they don’t have a very large name, they have to create that blitz,” she said.

Piscitello added many advisers still think of ETFs as passive vehicles. Therefore even established mutual fund players need to make a brand push as advisers may not associate their ETFs with mutual fund brands, she said. To overcome this, asset managers must distinguish their ETF strategies from their existing mutual funds. “[Active] managers have to be specific about the rationale behind why they’re getting into this space and why this strategy is different,” according to Piscitello. “They can help manage their image based on the diversity of the product—it’s not a carbon copy, it’s doing something more.”