Meb Faber

Meb Faberage 37

Chief investment officer and co-founder, Cambria Investment Management

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Meb Faber built a fund of funds that charges no management fee on top.

“No one is probably crazy enough or dumb enough to launch an ETF with no management fee,” said Mr. Faber, the chief investment officer of Cambria Investment Management.

But even that may not go far enough for him. Now he wants to build an exchange-traded fund that effectively pays investors to own it.

That’s a feat he thinks is possible through the magic of securities lending, where the fund earns money for letting other investors borrow its underlying investments. It can then return those profits to investors.

There are few people as excited about the ETF industry — its potential to lower fees for investors and the research behind new investment strategies — as Mr. Faber. Among other things, he thinks there are many hedge-fund-style strategies that could be made available to investors at a 0.5% annual management fee.

Mr. Faber, an engineer by training and surfer by vocation, has become something of a celebrity in an ETF industry with precious few star investors. He’s done so with a rare combination of skills: a facility with the numbers and science behind investing — he publishes his research regularly — and a breezy, accessible way with people.

He also regularly opines on his blogs and on Twitter, where he has 18,000 followers.

“The biggest challenge is just endurance. Just being able to keep it up,” he said of blogging and social media. “It’s a wonderful way to get on a soapbox and get your views heard, for better or for worse.”

— Trevor Hunnicutt

Fast Facts

  • Wanted to be an astronaut or baseball player growing up
  • Drives a 1967 F540 truck
  • Guilty pleasure is skiing
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