BlackRock Inc.’s iShares is again the world’s No. 1 exchange-traded fund provider in terms of inflows, moving past rival Vanguard Group for the first time since 2019.
iShares pulled in $220.9 billion last year globally, just ahead of Vanguard’s $214 billion, according to Morningstar Direct data.
Still, the picture was mixed. Both firms’ inflows fell from 2021, with Vanguard’s slumping 40% from $355 billion. BlackRock’s decline was a bit less painful, with a 28% drop from $308.2 billion.
Vanguard may have taken a hit with its focus on retail investors and advisories, while BlackRock probably benefited from its institutional emphasis, Deborah Fuhr, managing partner and founder of London-based ETFGI, wrote in an email.
“Institutions are significant users of ETFs especially outside the United States,” she wrote in an email. About half of global ETF assets are held by institutional investors, she said.
iShares' size and range advantage may have also helped. Its 1,039 ETFs and other exchange-traded products are about six times the 181 offered by Vanguard, according to ETFGI.
The two issuers have traded the top spot several times in recent years. iShares, a unit of New York-based BlackRock, had the top inflows from 2017 through 2019 before Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard took the top spot for 2020 and 2021, according to Morningstar Direct data.
The overall market in 2022 was marked by investors retreating to safe havens, including cash, as both bonds and stock investments lost money. Net inflows to the global ETF market fell 33%, to $856.2 billion, ETFGI reported earlier this month. That was down from 2021’s record year of $1.29 trillion in inflows.
Repeated interest rate hikes, soaring inflation, war in Ukraine and other uncertainties pushed markets lower this past year. Energy investments were among the only gainers. In the U.S., new fund launches dropped 9.6% to 431, according to ETF.com data. Fund closures nearly doubled, to 145, in the same period.
“iShares won the flows race by a landslide,” Morningstar Senior Editorial Director Syl Flood wrote in a note.
Contact Ron Day at [email protected]