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Taking ETF distribution to the next level: SS&C ALPS – Best ETF Distributor


By Philippa Aylmer – Despite the many challenges of 2020, it’s been another good year for SS&C ALPS distribution services. ETF assets under distribution have grown by around 18 per cent year over year as of August 2020, and the firm now has around USD 580 billion in ETF assets under distribution. 

“We are pleased with the growth we’ve seen in this environment. Our inflows have grown by 18 per cent in the last year, and we continue to see demand for our full-service model,” says Brad Swenson, Head of Registered Fund Services. In the first eight months of 2020, US ETFs brought in around USD 275 billion. 

In the last year, the firm has added a raft of new products to its ETF offering and expanded many strategic relationships. SS&C ALPS now offers the full range of services on one platform, including portfolio management support, full fund administration and accounting, compliance, creative services and series trust services in addition to its expanded distribution capabilities. 

“We have a comprehensive operating model largely driven by proprietary technology that can address the entire range of needs associated with asset managers and ETF issuers, which is unique to the marketplace,” states Swenson.

Portfolio management support solutions are a more recent addition available to ETF clients. “We are also an asset manager — SS&C Alps Advisors — and now extending this service to our clients in a sub-advisory capacity.” 

Also, the ALPS Series Trust (AST), which provides advisers with a solution for bringing open-end mutual funds to market efficiently and cost-effectively, is now open to non- and semi-transparent active ETFs. 

“What this means in practice is that as the industry evolves, we are pro-actively positioning our services, technology, and experience to support all types of registered funds on our series trust platform. Our process starts by working with issuers and investment advisers to file registrations, work with regulators, address any comments and ultimately get the registration approved and effective. Once launched we support the fund through all of our services on our ALPS Series Trust platform.”

As the industry experiences ongoing fee compression, a lot of firms are looking for cost-saving solutions. “Our solution is to offer a comprehensive series trust platform as an alternative to operating funds in a standalone trust. We are seeing increased levels of engagement to put funds into our standing series trusts,” says Swenson. 

Earlier this year, SS&C ALPS partnered with FLX Distribution, a social technology platform that matches asset managers with distributors. “This really complements our medallion distribution where we serve as principal underwriter and distributor for ETFs and other registered fund products,” says Swenson.

As the industry continues to evolve, SS&C ALPS is ensuring that it is positioned appropriately to support not only traditional ETFs but the non- and semi-transparent models.

“The pipeline for prospective ETFs, whether existing or new products, has never been as full as it is today. It is our longstanding industry relationships and experience coupled with our technology, that provides the right combination to deliver a truly unique client experience,” he adds. 

Brad Swenson
Head of SS&C ALPS Registered Fund Services

Brad Swenson has over 25 years of financial services industry experience, primarily focused on operations and compliance. He joined ALPS in 2004 as the Chief Compliance Officer to ALPS and its affiliated entities where he oversaw the compliance and risk management programs of the firm’s various business activities. During this time, Brad also served in numerous positions as Fund CCO to various mutual funds, close-end funds, and ETFs. In 2014, He became ALPS Fund Services’ Chief Operating Officer providing strategic development and leading operations of the firm for over five years prior to his recent appointment as Head of SS&C ALPS Registered Fund Services. Brad also currently serves as President of ALPS ETF Trust, Financial Investors Trust, ALPS Series Trust, Clough Global Closed-end Funds Trusts, and the Reaves Utility Income Fund Trust. Previous to joining ALPS, he served as Senior Audit Manager and Compliance Manager for Janus Capital Group, Inc. He started his financial services career as a Senior Internal Auditor for Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. Brad graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Accounting and is registered with FINRA, holding a Series 6, 26 and 27.

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