“Smart beta” exchange traded funds are doing okay but many of the people running them are doing dumb things that undercut the active management business — and have put de facto dumb beta ETFs in the driver’s seat.

That harsh assessment came not from a shill of another product category but rather as a takeaway from smart beta’s best and brightest gathered at last week’s second annual Inside Smart Beta Conference, which drew 350 attendees to the Convene Midtown West, on the fringe of Manhattan’s theater district.

The good news for smart beta ETFs is the scorching growth rate — jumping from $200 billion to more than $600 billion just since 2013. In the past year, 120 new funds were added as firms that missed out on the first ETF wave make certain this one doesn’t pass them by. The wild ride that Goldman Sachs took to launch its first ETF — one that even an RIA could love?

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