In a year like 2017, when ETFs have attracted a record $400 billion in net inflows in less than 11 months, we are reminded of the dominance of a few issuers.
At the top is BlackRock’s iShares, commanding more than $1.3 trillion in U.S.-listed ETF assets spread across 348 different funds. At No. 2 is Vanguard, with more than $820 billion in ETF assets in 71 different ETFs. These two firms alone have gathered more than 70% of all fresh net inflows this year, according to Bloomberg data, and dominated the top creations list.
But it doesn’t take having almost 350 ETFs to make it in this business.
There are a few notable one-hit ETF players in the space that are making it, issuers that have been growing their footprint based entirely on a lineup of a single ETF.
The most successful of these one-hit wonders is Robo Global, a small outfit of financial and robotics professionals tracking the global industry of robotics and automation.
This group created an index and brought to market through third-party provider Exchange Traded Concepts the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO) in October 2013.
ROBO is a bona fide one-hit wonder, with $1.8 billion in assets under management in a segment that’s still sparsely populated with competitors. First-to-market is perhaps ROBO’s biggest trump card, given that it costs 0.95% in expense ratio, while its main competitor, the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ) costs 0.68%. But BOTZ didn’t launch until 2016—some three years later—and it focused exclusively on developed markets. BOTZ has $1.3 billion in assets.
Robo Global is only one of the firms finding traction in the ETF market with only one product. There are several other firms, each behind a single ETF, that have managed to attract $100 million or more to their funds. They include:
SNLN has gathered $575 million in assets since inception in 2012. The fund owns about 100 liquid, floating-rate, high-yield senior loans issued by banks to companies. SNLN is Highland Capital’s only ETF game, and it’s doing well if you consider the strategy has serious competition from the heavyweight $8.3 billion PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (BKLN), among others.