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Morgan Stanley to Launch ETFs

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With ETF assets on a tear, Morgan Stanley has filed the paperwork to introduce its line of own exchange-traded products. It put in two applications for its first passive and active ETFs with the SEC in early-June. The firm declined to comment on the matter and to share any timeline on the introduction of these products.

ETF assets have grown rapidly in recent years. They stood at $2.1 trillion in late 2015, up from $1 trillion five years ago, according to PwC. In a recent survey of asset managers, PwC said 75% predict global ETF assets would increase to $5 trillion by 2020 due to their expanding use in global markets, growing acceptance by more types of investors and the emergence of a wider variety of investment strategies.

With investors’ growing preference for ETFs and regulatory pressure for firms to lower fees, Morgan Stanley — which has over 15,800 financial advisors and $2 trillion in wealth-management assets — could benefit from the product launch. “ETF share [of the total mutual fund market] in the US is 15% today, but we think it could eventually reach 40-60% over the next 10 years,” Credit Suisse analyst Craig Siegenthaler explained in a recent note.

Rivals like UBS have a head start in the field. UBS rolled out several exchange-traded notes with its ETRACS brand in 2010, for instance, including the UBS ETRACS Alerian MLP Infrastructure Index ETN and the UBS ETRACS 2x Leveraged Long Alerian MLP Infrastructure Index ETN.

According to, investors added more than $242 billion into U.S.-listed ETFs in 2015. Large ETF issuers like iShares and Vanguard expanded their market share, though other groups such as WisdomTree and Charles Schwab experienced strong growth as well. New asset managers entering the ETF marketplace in 2015 include Goldman Sachs, John Hancock and USAA.