Nathan Most (March 22, 1914 - December 3, 2004) was best known to investors as the creator of the first U.S. exchange-traded fund, the Standard & Poor’s Depository Receipt based on the S&P 500 index. Most was born in Los Angeles, California, received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He died in San Mateo, California.
Most held numerous positions during his career. He was an executive vice president of Pacific Vegetable Oil from 1965 to 1970 and an executive vice president of the American Import Company from 1970 to 1974. He shifted to the investment world in 1974, becoming president of the Pacific Commodities Exchange from 1974 to 1976; and technical assistant to the chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in 1976. He joined the American Stock Exchange in 1977 as a director of product development. It was with the American Stock Exchange in 1993 that Most designed the exchange-traded fund. His last position was becoming a board member on the iShares Trust at Barclays Global Investors.
The meeting with John Bogle
Both Most and John Bogle recount a notable meeting in 1992. According to Bogle, Most visited him at his Valley Forge office offering "...a design for a new “product” in which shares of the Vanguard 500 Index Fund could be traded instantaneously throughout the market day, and proposed that we partner with him... I listened to his presentation with interest and gave him my reactions: (1) there were three or four flaws in the design that would have to be corrected in order for the idea to actually function; and (2) even if the new design solved the problems, our Index 500 Fund was designed for long-horizon investors."
According to Most, Bogle didn't like the concept because traders moving in and out of the funds would drive up costs. "That conversation got me thinking about a product where you don't go in and out of the fund."
- Happy 20th Birthday ETFs, Institutional Investor, July 3, 2013. Viewed December 3, 2015.
- [Nathan Most, Creator of Exchange-Traded Funds, Still a Visionary SFGate, July 20, 2000. Viewed December 3 , 2015.
- Jennifer Bayot, Nathan Most Is Dead at 90; Investment Fund Innovator, The New York Times, December 4, 2004. Viewed December 2, 2015
- John Spence, ETF inventor Most dies at 90, Market Watch December 7, 2004. Viewed December 2, 2015.
- John Bogle, A Brief History of the ETF, Amazon.com Money & Markets, March 31, 2013. Viewed December 2, 2015.