'Little' First Trust Enjoying Banner Year

November 03, 2014

Huge inflows into a single ETF tell the tale of a firm that’s on a roll.

Last week an ETF from First Trust pulled in a huge amount of new money—going from basically no assets to more than $500 million. Those flows into the First Trust Enhanced Short Maturity Fund (FTSM) were the tip-of-the-iceberg sort of development, the latest reflection of what’s going right at the Wheaton, Illinois-based firm.

Sizable inflows into any fund is the sort of thing we take note of as we track Daily ETF Flows. We ask ourselves: “What was that about; was it a one-off fluke or did it tell a deeper story?”

With First Trust, this is a deeper story, and that story goes like this: This is a small but growing privately held fund company with $29 billion in assets that’s slowly but surely broadening its footprint in the ETF industry.

First Trust is doing that by marketing an array of funds with varying approaches that, together, reflect many crosscurrents in the contemporary fund landscape. Investors of all stripes kicking the tires at First Trust will find quality and variety and low costs. Many funds are also serving up superior performance, and now the firm has three-year track records on many funds, which is making selling them much easier.

The table below clearly shows how First Trust’s growth is accelerating:


But consider these facts for a bit of extra context: That accelerating growth has lifted First Trust on the ETF industry league table to the No. 6 spot—up from No. 9 at the end of 2013 and No. 11 at the end of 2012. And the firm is No. 3 in terms of year-to-date asset gathering, suggesting this growth is likely to continue.


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