Behind The Impressive Growth Of Small ETF Issuers

March 20, 2017

Assets in U.S.-listed ETFs have grown about 26% in the past year. At about $2.75 trillion in total ETF assets today, the industry continues to see a relatively consistent pace of asset growth—and one that is outpacing most other financial market segments.

That’s not news. But there are a few interesting points behind that number. First, the obvious: Roughly 82% of all U.S.-listed ETF assets is managed by three single ETF issuers—BlackRock’s iShares, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors.

One year ago, these three firms also commanded about 82% of the market. Their dominance is clear, consistent and, apparently, unwavering.

Consider that, individually speaking, each of these three issuers saw their asset base grow at a slightly faster pace than the overall market in the past 12 months. Both iShares and SSgA each saw an asset jump of 28% in the past 12 months, and Vanguard’s assets rose by 36% in the same period. They are big, but they are still getting bigger fast.

Smaller Issuers See Big Growth

The really mind-boggling data is growth among smaller ETF issuers on a relative basis.

Growing from a much smaller base is certainly easier to do, so it’s unsurprising that some of the asset growth numbers among smaller issuers are truly impressive. But the significance of these relative growth numbers is that, for all the talk about a crowded ETF market, and about the difficulty of competing with the giants in the space, there still seems to be ample room for the little guy.

We have 78 ETF issuers in the market today, 75 of which command about $576 billion in U.S.-listed ETF assets. (The big three manage the other $2.218 trillion.) Some of these issuers are seeing their asset base double, triple—growth of tenfold in a matter of months.

Out of 78 issuers, 18 firms saw their assets under management (AUM) rise at least 100% in the past 12 months. The table below lists these firms, ranked by AUM growth:

ETF Issuer AUM ($M) 12-Month AUM
Growth (%)
Columbia 1,004 7600%
The Principal Financial Group 554 1880%
Exchange Traded Concepts 2,515 717%
Legg Mason 152 660%
John Hancock 791 653%
CitiGroup 769 288%
Montage Managers 73 284%
Franklin ETF Trust 611 217%
Victory Capital Management 1,200 213%
Goldman Sachs 3,240 191%
Credit Suisse 3,608 157%
Virtus 808 132%
ARK 88 132%
Morgan Stanley 96 125%
FQF Trust 447 125%
OppenheimerFunds 1,955 113%
Northern Trust 13,131 100%
Alpha Architect 166 100%


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