Karl Cheong is an asset management executive and board director for First Trust Canada, a subsidiary of a privately owned global asset management firm with approximately $150 billion under management.
Launched in 1991, First Trust is headquartered in Illinois with global offices across the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Canada. As a trailblazer and a thought leader in the Canadian Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) industry, Karl joined First Trust in 2013 and currently helps to oversee its Canadian operations. He is the driving force behind the region’s strategic direction, from product development, marketing, to service and sales delivery.
First Trust’s initial line up of three products on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2013 has since expanded to over 20 as a result of the team’s continued focus on growth and innovation. The most notable launches include Canada’s first actively managed senior loan ETF, Canada’s only U.S. sector funds, and most recently, Canada’s only target outcome funds, which provide investors with exposure to the S&P 500 Index with a 10% downside buffer. In particular, the industry has recognized the First Trust AlphaDEXTM U.S. Technology Sector Index ETF in both 2018 and 2019 as the best sector ETF at the Refinitiv Lipper Fund Awards and the First Trust AlphaDEXTM U.S. Financials Sector Index ETF as the Best Financial Services Fund by Fundata.
Karl leads his team with a deep-rooted commitment to partnership and collaboration, serving as both player and coach of a team of investment professionals who deliver creative ETF solutions to investment advisors and portfolio managers. “I believe the most effective leaders lead by example. When challenges arise, I roll up my sleeves and get down in the weeds with the rest of my team, always with an eye on First Trust’s mission—to offer investors a better way to invest,” he shares.
After graduating from a top-tier Canadian university with a degree in finance and obtaining a CFA® designation, Karl was in search of a unique career path instead of following the traditional routes to investment banking and equity research. At that time, the Canadian ETF industry was in its infancy and was a relatively unknown space with only a handful of firms. “The uncharted territory of the Canadian ETF industry excited me. I saw a great opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it.” With that in mind, he joined Claymore Investments in 2009 as the head of ETFs and structured product development, where he developed industry leading products for what was once the fastest-growing asset management firms in Canadian history. He jumped in with both feet—and put his mark on what is now mainstream industry.
“It’s important for me to add value to the financial community in an impactful and memorable way,” says Karl. He regularly shares market insights and analysis through guest appearances on BNN Bloomberg and articles on various financial news outlets including the Financial Post, Globe & Mail, Reuters, Morningstar, and Investment Executive. He was recently featured as an Industry Icon by Wealth Professional.
ETF Executive, Board Director, Investor — First Trust Canada
40 King Street West, Suite #5102
Toronto, Canada 8M5H3Y2
LinkedIn: Karl Cheong