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The View From The World's Biggest ETF Conference

I've been reporting live from IndexUniverse.com’s 3rd Annual Inside ETFs Conference with exclusive coverage of the biggest ETF conference ever. All of the biggest players in the ETF industry are presenting at this event, which is being held in Boca Raton, Florida.

The exchange-traded fund (ETF) business has been booming. Growing in number from 30 ETFs just 10 years ago to almost 820 today, ETF assets have now risen to nearly $782 billion – up 46% from just one year ago. ETFs have become an attractive alternative to mutual funds for investors since they are a simple, low-cost way to diversify an investment portfolio – not only amongst U.S. and international stocks, but also in other asset classes including bonds, commodities, and even currencies. Unlike mutual funds, but just like stocks, ETFs are traded throughout the day on exchanges.

Attending the conference are over 800 people, many of which are financial advisors. This is double the attendance the conference had just 2 years ago. So why the increase? They are here because many more of their clients are asking about investing in ETFs.

2010 will be a big year for ETF providers. More money continues to flow into ETFs, and it is expected there will be many new providers and products. Hope is that ETFs will slowly crack the 401(k) barrier too. Other hot topics: Despite the current popularity, can investor appetite really sustain the growth ETFs have seen over the past few years? In what ways can individuals effectively use ETFs to diversify their portfolio and help minimize their risk? In 2010, will investors turn to ETFs to gain greater exposure to other asset classes like currencies and bonds?

Being at this conference allows us to bring you insights from the key players and experts in the ETF business.

Take a look at who we talked to on Monday (all interviews can now be seen on CNBC.com):

- Graham Tuckwell, ETF Securities Chairman, on commodity ETF investing and his firm's new platinum and palladium ETFs.

- ETF experts Matt Hougan, IndexUniverse.com Editor & Tom Lydon, ETF Trends Editoron whether the ETF industry has gone too far, too fast.

- Tony Rochte, State Street Global AdvisorsSenior Managing Director & Noel Archard, iShares Head of Product Strategy, on 2010 ETF investment ideas and the strong interest in fixed income ETFs. These two firms are the giants in the ETF industry - representing over 70 percent of all ETF assets.

- Jim Wiandt, IndexUniverse.com Publisheron the state of the ETF industry. Jim's interview is exclusive to CNBC.com.

Today, we have another outstanding lineup of guests:

- 9:05am – Robert Shiller, Yale University Professor of Economics & MacroMarkets Chief Economist, on the current state of the housing markets.

- 10:10am – Joanne Hill, ProShares Head of Investment Strategy & Jim Lowell, Adviser Investments Chief Investment Strategist clarify the misconceptions of leveraged/inverse ETFs and how they can be smartly used in ETF portfolios.

- 11:40am – Luciano Siracusano, WisdomTree Chief Investment Strategist & Stuart Thomas, Next Investments Chief Operating Officer discuss how investing in currencies may garner immense interest from investors if the dollar's volatilty continues into 2010.

- 2:50pm – Ben Fulton, Invesco PowerShares Managing Director, on how international stock ETFs show play a role in investors' portfolios after the surge in emerging markets over the past decade.

So how much has this industry grown over these years and how does this industry stack up now? Take a look at some fascinating ETF numbers on the "By the Numbers" blog.

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