Heady Growth From A Small Base
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first list includes smaller ETFs that grew their assets from a tiny asset base. That includes the MicroSectors FANG+ Index 2X Leveraged ETN (FNGO), which attracted inflows of $34 million in 2019, a sizable sum for a product that had a mere $310,000 in assets at the start of the year.
Two Invesco products, the Invesco RAFI Strategic Developed ex-US ETF (ISDX) and the Invesco RAFI Strategic US ETF (IUS) also caught fire, picking up $242 million and $122 million of new assets, respectively. Those are phenomenal figures considering the two products, which weight their holdings based on fundamental factors, started the year with only $2 million in assets each.
Not to be outdone, the Franklin Liberty Investment Grade Corporate ETF (FLCO) went from a $17 million fund to a half-billion-dollar fund in 2019 thanks to inflows of $548 million. FLCO is an actively managed fixed income product with a current distribution yield of 3.7%.
Meanwhile, a pair of products from the Innovator suite of buffered equity ETFs also grew swiftly. The Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF – July (BJUL) and the Innovator S&P 500 Power Buffer ETF – July (PJUL) registered inflows of more than $66 million each in 2019, a hefty gain from their $2 million to $3 million starting balance.
BJUL and PJUL are a part of the hugely successful Innovator family of defined outcome ETFs, which provide capped exposure to U.S. equities, while limiting downside for investors.
Thus far, the ETFs we’ve looked at began the year with only a few million dollars in assets. The largest among those was the Franklin Liberty Investment Grade Corporate ETF (FLCO), which started 2019 with $17.3 million in AUM and increased to $583 million.
Next, we’ll take a look at ETFs that began the year with a larger asset base—$50 million or more. Naturally, the growth of assets for these funds is smaller, but still extremely impressive.
Fastest Growing ETFs of 2019 (Starting AUM >$50M)
Data measures the year-to-date period through Dec. 31, 2019
iShares & Vanguard Popularizing ESG
At the top of this group is the iShares ESG MSCI U.S.A. ETF (ESGU). It started 2019 with $122.1 million in assets and currently has $1.5 billion, thanks to inflows of $1.2 billion and some price appreciation. Not too shabby.
ESGU’s growth is a reflection of the growing popularity of environmental, social and governance (ESG), or principles-based investing.
Factors Still Popular
ESG ETFs may be getting tons of buzz and growth, but investors haven’t forgotten about factors. Factor ETFs are still hugely popular and growing like weeds.
The iShares Edge MSCI Intl Quality Factor ETF (IQLT), the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. Small-Cap ETF (SMMV), the iShares Edge MSCI U.S.A. Size Factor ETF (SIZE) and the SPDR SSGA U.S. Large Cap Low Volatility Index ETF (LGLV) each saw their assets balloon in 2019 thanks to robust inflows.
Finally, rounding out the fastest-growing ETFs list is an eclectic selection of funds. The JPMorgan BetaBuilders MSCI U.S. REIT ETF (BBRE), the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN (DWT), the Direxion Daily Semiconductor Bear 3X Shares (SOXS) and the iShares Broad USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (USHY) each saw their assets increase by hundreds of percent over the course of the year.