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ETFs, ETPs Make Record Asset Grab in 2015

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The year 2015 ended on a stirring note for exchange-traded funds and products, as the industry set an annual record of net new assets, according to ETFGI’s year-end industry insights report.

ETFGI’s preliminary data showed new assets of $372 billion, an increase of 10% over the record $338 billion gathered in 2014.

December marked the 23rd consecutive month of positive net inflows, and was the best month of the year for asset gathering with $55 billion in net new assets.

Total assets under management increased from $2.8 trillion in 2014 to just under $3 trillion.

Industry growth was robust on other measures as well:

  • the number of ETFs/ETPs increased from 5,550 in 2014 to 6,146
  • the number of listings grew from 10,771 to 11,750
  • the number of providers have increased from 239 to 276
  • the number of exchanges rose from 62 to 64

Deborah Fuhr, ETFGI’s managing partner, noted in a statement that uncertainty in China, concerns about the Middle East and collapsing energy prices roiled markets last year.

“The record level of asset gathering in 2015 shows that more investors are using ETFs/ETPs in more ways due to the market turmoil: Retail is using more ETFs through robo-advisors, institutions are using ETFs as alternatives to futures, and financial advisors are using more ETFs especially in multi-asset portfolios,” Fuhr said.

In 2015, equity ETFs/ETPs gathered the largest net inflows with $258 billion, followed by fixed income with $81.5 billion, and commodities with $2.4 billion. In December, equity and fixed income funds drew the largest inflows, while commodity funds gave back $688 million.

Last year, iShares was the largest net asset gatherer, netting $139 billion. Vanguard followed with $85 billion, and DB/x-trackers with $28 billion.

The top three ETF/ETP providers at the end of 2015, out of 276, accounted for 69% of global assets: iShares with $1.1 trillion, a 37.1% market share; Vanguard with $507 billion, a 17% market share; and SPDR with $443 billion, a 14.8% market share.

The report said 28% of ETFs/ETPs tracked the benchmarks of S&P Dow Jones in 2015. Fifteen percent followed MSCI benchmarks, 13% those of FTSE Russell and 10% Barclays benchmarks.