Biggest Active ETFs By Asset Class

March 19, 2018

Global Equity ETFs

The ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) is a quick-growing global equity ETF that targets companies sitting on the edge—or benefiting from—technological innovation.

So far in 2018, ARKK has already gathered a net of $302 million in net assets, gains that have come on the heels of $325 million in net creations in 2017. ARKK today is a $768 million fund, up a whopping 87% in the last 12 months, which certainly helps attract new assets.

Perhaps one of the key drivers of its success is the fact that ARKK is one of the only ETFs in the market to offer investors access to bitcoin through a trust. But the fund also owns a lot of hot names, like Tesla and Alibaba.

ARKK is also the second-largest active equity ETF on the market today, behind only EMLP. It costs 0.75% in expense ratio and trades with an average spread of 0.14%.



Commodity ETFs

The PowerShares Optimum Yield Diversified Commodity Strategy No K-1 Portfolio (PDBC) leads the pack in the active commodity space, with $1.1 billion in total assets under management.

PDBC is one of only 11 actively managed commodity ETFs on the market today, and one of the few active ETFs to have broken past $1 billion in AUM. Only 13 active ETFs have managed to do that.

So far in 2018, PDBC has seen net creations of $377 million—an asset-gathering pace that’s already surpassed the fund’s haul for the entirety of 2017, when $270 million in net assets flowed into the fund.

PDBC offers access to a broad basket of commodity futures that’s very similar to its passive counterpart, the $2.7 billion PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC). Active management here aims to mitigate contango and outperform DBC’s underlying index.

The ETF is very liquid, trading with an average spread of 0.06%. PDBC is also cheaper than index-based DBC, at 0.59% in expense ratio. The fund is up 10% for the year.



Asset Allocation ETFs

The iShares Commodities Select Strategy ETF (COMT) is the largest actively managed asset allocation ETFs, with $351 million in AUM. The fund really is a commodity strategy; however, it falls into asset allocation because of its unique approach that results in a multi-asset portfolio.

COMT owns commodities (via derivatives) and equities linked to commodities, natural resources and energy. It costs a competitive-for-the-space 0.48% in expense ratio, and offers the tax convenience of a 1099 instead of issuing a K-1. The ETF trades with an average spread of 0.16%. COMT is up more than 15% for the year.

The fund has gathered some $60 million in net inflows in less than three months this year, a notable feat for an ETF that attracted only $74 million in fresh net assets in all of 2017.



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