Christine Cantrell
Sales Director, ETFs @ BMO Global Asset Management

Jobs in ETFs: Please tell us about yourself and your experience. What was your first job in the ETF industry and how did you decide to pursue a career in the industry?

Christine: I graduated with an MSc in Finance from Cass Business School in 2009, which was arguably one of the most difficult times to start a career in financial services! I knew I wanted a sales role; combining an understanding of the markets with the ability to communicate ideas convincingly and form solid business relationships. Looking back on it, the relatively strong growth of the ETF industry compared to the wider asset management space was evident by the fact that an ETF issuer, ETF Securities, posted a vacancy for a junior sales person on the Cass Business School career site. So I was lucky to find myself in that position as soon as my course ended. After five enjoyable years, gaining confidence and growing my own client base, I then moved to State Street Global Advisors to join their SPDR (ETF) sales team. This gave me a different perspective and skill set associated with working at a large global ETF business.

JE: What is BMO Global Asset Management’s role in the ETF industry?

Christine: BMO Global Asset Management is a hugely successful ETF provider in Canada with $33bn AUM* in ETFs and has gathered the most net new assets in ETFs consecutively in each of the last six years in Canada. Its global expansion is continuing with it launching its ETFs in Asia in 2014 and entering the competitive European UCITS ETF market in November 2015. BMO Global Asset Management is proving that there is a second wave of evolution and capacity for growth in the UCITS ETF market, which has been, up to now, dominated by a few large passive-only players. BMO Global Asset Management is a multi-asset solutions provider which can add value by innovating and thinking holistically about its clients’ investment needs.

JE: What key skills do you think are necessary to have in order to be employable and successful in the industry?

Christine: To excel in the ETF industry one needs to form a big-picture view of the world, because macro-economic and asset allocation discussions go hand-in-hand. My clients appreciate different opinions and insights about what is driving the markets and how investors are positioned. This helps them with their portfolio construction using ETFs. Roles in product development, research, portfolio management and broker relationships, known as Capital Markets, as well as sales require a good knowledge of how investors build multi-asset portfolios so relevant qualifications such as CISI / IMC and CFA are very beneficial. Resilience and adaptability are also important, especially as the ETF market is a swiftly evolving industry.

JE: Last year you made the move from State Street Global Advisors to BMO Global Asset Management. Why did you take the new role and what is the exciting thing we all should keep an eye out for?

Christine: I was very excited by the opportunity to join BMO Global Asset Management and to take on more responsibility, being the dedicated ETF Sales Director in Europe. My role is to drive the sales strategy of our UCITS ETF range which means I promote BMO Global Asset Management’s ETFs to a wide variety of clients, but also get involved in marketing, media relations, events, product development, management reporting and internal education. I am really proud of the growth of our UCITS ETF business so far, especially in the unique and award-winning exposures we’ve launched, e.g. the only Enhanced Income UCITS ETFs and maturity-targeted global corporate bond ETFs. Investing for income has been a challenge for investors in recent years and BMO Global Asset Management has created new solutions to meet clients’ needs in the hunt for yield, through equities and fixed income using a variety of transparent, systematic and low-cost methods. Our product development will ensure we continue to meet clients’ needs in new, exciting ways.   

JE: You are an active speaker at various ETF events and you will next be speaking at the TrackInsight Investor Summit in London on 29 September 2017. What topics will you be covering and why should people attend your session?

Christine: I enjoy presenting at conferences and am lucky to have a role that ensures I am constantly learning and trying to improve. The pressure of speaking in front of a hundred or so people is a pretty good incentive to research as much as possible about your chosen topic! At the TrackInsight Investor Summit, I will be discussing the ways investors are trying to access an adequate level of yield for their clients, which has been challenging in a low, but rising, interest rate environment when equity markets appear stretched. BMO Global Asset Management offers a unique solution which targets between 2-4% additional income, on top of the dividend yield of the mainstream equity benchmarks, through its Enhanced Income ETF range.

JE: If you can give advice to those who are just starting in the ETF industry, what will it be?

Christine: I would advise someone interested in entering the ETF industry to network and seek advice from people across all levels and roles to try to understand the nuances of the market. As a market segment, we are guilty of a lot of jargon but are also lucky to have a tightly knit community who regularly host a number of events and produce educational content. TrackInsight is a good example of this, as well as ETFGI, Women in ETFs and the London Stock Exchange.           

*Source: BMO Global Asset Management