Masters in Business

Present at the Creation of the No. 1 ETF

For State Street's Jim Ross, a little spare time made it all possible.

Never assume that serendipity doesn't have something to do with success.

Early in Jim Ross's career at State Street Corp., he joined a new group called fund administration. The new department wasn't fully ramped up, and because of this he had some time on his hands. With a light schedule, he went to one of his bosses, and asked for more work to do.

Two months later, Ross was invited to apply his accounting skills to a new project -- the introduction of a product that would trade under the ticker symbol SPY, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust. A quarter-century later, he's known as the father of the Spyders.

Ross, now executive vice president of State Street Global Advisors and chairman of global SPDRs, explained how the American Stock Exchange had approached State Street about its idea for an index trading vehicle after the 1987 crash. State Street went on to help develop a securitized version of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index exchanged-traded fund -- the first Spyder -- and now the most widely traded ETF. Ross said that many of the ETFs State Street offers are variations of the S&P: Shortly after our conversation, State Street started offering a suite of ultra-low-cost SPDR portfolio ETFs.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras, on BloombergiTunesOvercast and Soundcloud. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunesSoundcloudOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with Scott Galloway, professor at New York University Stern School of Business.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Barry Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net

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    James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

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