ETF Growth Sparkles In July

Here’s a rundown of key performance indicators for the ETF industry.

Reviewed by: Dan Weiskopf
Edited by: Dan Weiskopf

The ETF Think Tank is a community of advisors focused on a client-centric approach to investing through the use of ETFs. Each week, we disseminate research on the growth of the ETF industry including key performance indicators (KPIs) on number of ETFs listed, assets, revenue, exchange market share and number of issuers. This data is useful in serving to monitor the trends in the ETF. Here’s a look at July’s metrics.



New Listings Grow Faster Than Closings

There are currently 2,288 ETFs listed in the U.S. Over the last 12 months, we have seen 257 new ETFs launch compared with 177 ETFs that closed, for a 1.45 open-to-close ratio.

However, the ratio is showing improvement. The ratio improving to 1.70 for the first seven months of 2019, or 1.70 new ETFs for each closed ETF. This KPI shows an increasing appetite for issuers to continue to launch new and creative ETF ideas.



Assets Grow While Influence Diversifies

As of Aug. 1, 2019, U.S. ETF assets reached $4.028 trillion—a sequential record high—and annual growth at 19.14%. Another KPI of significance is the “ownership influence score.”

Our average ETF ownership influence has dropped this year, from 8.25% at the beginning of 2019 to 6.90%, due to a more diversified offering and a concentration of ETF flows toward large-cap U.S. equities. The ownership influence score is the average amount of the market cap of every U.S. stock owned by ETFs.

We often speak about intended and unintended consequences of ETF growth. In this report, we decided to focus on ownership influence of the stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Index, which range as low as 3.5% for Walmart (WMT) and as high as 9% for Travelers (TRV).

We argue that ETF ownership influence at 6.9% on average is not an impactful percentage of most stocks, but it is worth noting that this percentage on average is down from 8.25% at the beginning of the year.

Walmart’s Unique Situation

Walmart is a unique situation because the Walton family continues to own 49.6% of the company. Noteworthy is the fact that Walmart’s return has outperformed the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) over these past five years at 11.25% vs 11.21%, respectively.

Similar outperformance has been earned the past 26 years period with a compound return of 10.34% vs 9.57%, respectively (Bloomberg, performance chart from July 31, 1993 through July 31, 2019). Of course, we all know what has happened with Amazon, 5% of which is owned by ETFs.


[Use’s stock finder tool to find an ETF’s allocation to a certain stock.]

Nevertheless, WMT—as a broad holding within ETFs—has been a positive allocation; let’s not forget that this company now embraced by value indexers is worth $312 billion and growing, by about 2-3% as year. Now that’s “ownership influence.”

In contrast, ETFs own 9% of Travelers, another very successful company, but with only a $38 billion market cap, the large cap trading flows may have a greater influence.

According to Bloomberg, the average trading volume for Travelers in July was only 838,000 shares, down from a range of 1.3 million to 2.01 million shares traded over this past year. In this context, we see the 9%—or about 23.4 million shares—as meaningful and something to watch.


ETF_Industry ThinkTank

(For a larger view, click on the image above)


[Use’s stock finder tool to find an ETF’s allocation to a certain stock.]


Revenue Grows As Fees Fall

The average weighted expense ratio for U.S. ETFs remains the same, at 0.19% from June 30. Fee compression may be a slow continuum, but with increased assets, the projected 12-month revenue increased from $6.83 billion in January to $7.65 billion today.

The revenue also continues to diversify away from low-cost, traditional beta and toward nontraditional passive smart beta ETFs and active ETFs.

The percentage of ETF revenue from nontraditional passive ETFs in January was 36.38%; today it’s 38.99%. Active ETF revenue also gained market share, growing from 5.11% to 5.48%. These KPIs help show that investors are still looking for interesting and creative strategies to help diversify their portfolios.




Exchange Market Share Remains Constant

Exchange market share of ETF listings has remained constant in 2019, with NYSE in a dominant position. Cboe Global Markets, which owns, took share away from Nasdaq, increasing from 13.26% of listings to 14.20%, while Nasdaq decreased from 16.68% to 16.17%.



Growth In Issuers Continues

The number of branded issuers continues growing this year, with three more since last month. Since the beginning of the year, ETF issuers have increased from 133 to 147. That’s an 11% increase, and we think an acceleration of more new asset managers who are embracing the superior structure of the ETF wrapper.

That said, the chart below from Morningstar Research shows assets remain concentrated with the top three issuers: BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street. Vanguard’s market expansion is coming at the expense of State Street’s and iShares’. We expect that innovations may draw flows in the billions, but broad low-cost access will remain in the hands of the few who have large-scale leadership.


Market_Shares_Major 1998_2019

(For a larger view, click on the image above)


Contact Dan Weiskopf at [email protected]

Dan Weiskopf is a Toroso portfolio manager and member of its investment committee. He has over 30 years of portfolio management experience, with almost 20 years as an ETF strategist. Dan is often quoted as saying that "structure matters" more in selecting an ETF than simply its fee.