ETF Investing: Here’s what it was like to buy the first ETF ever on Day 1

A quarter-century ago, before exchange-traded funds had grown into a multitrillion-dollar investment vehicle that upended Wall Street by offering investors exposure to basically every investible asset class for rock-bottom fees, there was only one.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY, +0.81% turned 25 on Monday, having made its debut Jan. 22, 1993 in what today stands as a watershed moment for financial markets, marking the start of an unexpected revolution in how the world invests.

“The first time I read about it, I thought, ‘this is something I’ve always wanted,’” said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer of Aviance Capital Management, who bought the SPY—as it has become known due to its ticker symbol—on the first day it was available to trade.

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