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Vanguard Tops Q1 Flows: Morningstar

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When it comes to mutual fund flows in March and the first quarter, Morningstar says Vanguard is the winner.

The fund giant “regained its momentum and dominated with $62 billion in first-quarter flows, which were more than its next three competitors combined,” the research group said in its latest update. Its total U.S. assets are $4.7 trillion, excluding money market funds, and its March fund flows were close to $22 billion.

Overall in the first three months of 2019, Vanguard “benefited from strong interest in its core strategies with its intermediate-term bond, large-blend and foreign large-blend offerings alone, collecting in $15.9 billion in March and $37.1 billion for the quarter,” according to Morningstar Senior Analyst Kevin McDevitt.

“Including its money market offerings, Vanguard’s total U.S. assets crossed $5 trillion for the first time. Incredibly, the firm’s U.S. assets have more than doubled from $2.4 trillion in January 2014,” he added.

Placing second for the quarter was Fidelity, with fund flows of $23.5 billion. March’s inflows of $6.4 billion benefited from strong demand for its large-blend and intermediate-term bond strategies; for the quarter, these funds gathered $6.1 billion combined and $19.6 billion in the first quarter overall.

In third place for the quarter is iShares at $18.6 billion. For March, it came in ahead of Fidelity $12 billion in firm inflows thanks to core-strategies demand.

“Its large-blend funds saw $8.7 billion in inflows, led by iShares Core S&P 500’s top-ranked $7.3 billion,” the Morningstar report said. “Some of the firm’s vehicles saw large outflows, though. IShares MSCI EAFE ETF, iShares MSCI Japan ETF and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF saw $2.2 billion, $2 billion, and $1.8 billion in outflows, respectively, the second, third, and fourth greatest outflows.”

Fund Sectors

Long-term March flows were $44 billion, while first-quarter long-term flows total $136 billion, matching the same period of 2018.

“Cash continued to pile into bonds in March with $35.3 billion going to taxable-bond funds and $8.8 billion to municipal-bond funds,” McDevitt wrote. “This was the best quarter for muni funds since 2009.”

Some $49 billion of long-term flows came from passive vehicles vs. $5 billion in outflows for active funds. Money market funds lost $13 billion, the group’s first since September 2018.

“For the quarter, active funds had organic growth of 0.17%, the best in four years, although it was modest in absolute terms. By comparison, long-term passive funds had organic growth of 2.01%, a bit below the five-year trend,” according to the research group.

— Check out Is This the Age of the Active Manager? on ThinkAdvisor.