The ETF Council, a trade organization for exchange-traded funds, is set to launch this month.
Spearheading the venture is Irving Straus of the public relations firm Straus Corporate Communications, who also founded the Mutual Fund Education Alliance, which promotes direct-sold funds.
"Up until now, [ETFs] have been bringing in assets based primarily on new product introduction, and what I'm telling those that listen in the industry — and they are listening — is that this is going to dry up in due course, or at least become much less of a factor," the 89-year-old Straus said. "You're going to have to get out there and market the value of ETFs versus other investment options."
The Investment Company Institute has a committee dedicated to ETFs, but, as Straus noted, it is not in the ICI's interest to promote the value of ETFs over traditional mutual funds.
"The ETF industry doesn't need to pick a fight against funds, but it does need to educate the public [about] what ETFs are all about," Straus said. "The industry has been using the easy ideas. Now is the time when people will decide if they want traditional funds, ETFs or both."