Here at ETF.com, we talk a lot about flows. Each day, each week and each month, we put together lists of the ETFs that garner the largest inflows and the largest outflows of assets—an indication of where investors are putting their money to work.
Most of the time, the same batch of ETFs finds itself on these lists. These funds are usually super liquid, extraordinarily cheap and have billions of dollars in assets. For example, so far this year, the $119 billion Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) and the $30.5 billion iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. ETF (USMV) are seeing the largest inflows, totaling $10.2 billion and $7.2 billion, respectively.
No matter how you slice it, those are sizable inflows. That said, VOO and USMV aren’t necessarily the ETFs growing the fastest.
On an absolute basis they are, but not a percentage basis. Year-to-date inflows for the two ETFs represent an increase of 11.4% and 38.5%, respectively, over their total assets at the start of the year. When you add price appreciation on top of that, assets under management (AUM) for VOO and USMV are up more—33% and 62%, respectively. Those are impressive gains for such large ETFs, but nowhere close to the top of the heap.
On a percentage basis, there are loads of ETFs that have grown much faster in 2018—ETFs that almost never make our flows lists because they are starting from a much smaller asset base. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at these fast-growing funds, which, in many cases, are flying under the radar of the ETF investing public at large.
Admittedly, it’s much easier for a small fund to register a big percentage increase in its assets. A fund with only $1 million in AUM simply has to grow to $2 million for its assets to double. Is that noteworthy? Not really.
How about a $1 million fund growing to $50 million? Now that could be noteworthy for some; others might not pay attention until a fund grows even larger, into the hundred-million or even the billion-dollar range.
That’s why we’ve put together two lists: one that showcases the fastest-growing ETFs of the year no matter their starting level of assets, and another that includes ETFs that had $50 million or more in assets at the start of 2019.
Data measures the period through July 25, 2019
FAANGs Still In Vogue
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first list includes smaller ETFs that grew their assets from a tiny asset base. That includes the MicroSectors FANG+ Index Inverse ETN (GNAF), the MicroSectors FANG+ Index 2X Leveraged ETNs (FNGO) and the MicroSectors FANG+ Index -2x Inverse Leveraged ETN (FNGZ), which each grew their AUM from less than $1 million to more than $40 million.
(Use our stock finder tool to find an ETF’s allocation to a certain stock.)
Heady Growth From A Small Base
Risky, leveraged ETNs aren’t the only fast-growing products. Several factor funds have also swiftly gathered assets. The Invesco RAFI Strategic Developed ex-US ETF (ISDX), the Invesco Strategic US ETF (IUS), the Invesco S&P 500 Value With Momentum ETF (SPVM), the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF (LRGE) and the VictoryShares Dividend Accelerator ETF (VSDA) all grew from only a few million in assets to the $50 million to $250 million range.
The Xtrackers International Real Estate ETF (HAUZ), which tracks a basket of real estate stocks outside of the U.S., also found a following in 2019, as did the SPDR S&P Kensho New Economies Composite ETF (KOMP), a fund focused on transformational technologies, like autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, genetic engineering and nanotechnology.
Then there is a pair of alpha-seeking funds that use historical patterns in an attempt to outperform. The Pacer CFRA-Stovall Equal Weight Seasonal Rotation Index ETF (SZNE) uses seasonality to decide which sectors to hold. Consumer discretionary, industrials, materials and tech are held from November through April, while consumer staples and health care are held from May through October.
Meanwhile, the Vesper U.S. Large Cap Short-Term Reversal Strategy ETF (UTRN) selects 25 stocks out of the S&P 500 that look ripe for a rebound based on poor relative weekly performance.
Thus far, the list we’ve looked at comprises ETFs that 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 that to $227 million, a gain of a 1,210%.
Next we are going to 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.
Data measures the period through July 25, 2019
At the top of this group is the iShares Edge MSCI Intl Quality Factor ETF (IQLT). It started 2019 with $115.6 million in assets and currently has $832.6 million, an increase of 620%. Not too shabby.
IQLT’s growth is just another data point that suggests factor ETFs remain popular with investors, not a fad that is going to die anytime soon.
The Oppenheimer Russell 1000 Dynamic Multifactor ETF (OMFL), the SPDR SSGA U.S. Large Cap Low Volatility Index ETF (LGLV), the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. Small-Cap ETF (SMMV) and the SPDR MSCI USA StrategicFactors ETF (QUS) are other factor funds among the fastest-growing ETFs this year.
Vanguard Popularizing ESG
While not at the level of factor-based investing, another strategy that is growing in popularity is ESG (environmental, social and governance), or principles-based investing. The Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF (VSGX) saw its assets increase more than fivefold this year, from $62 million to $386 million. The Vanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF (ESGV) has seen sizzling growth as well, from $103 million to $555 million in AUM.
If there is one issuer that can bring ESG investing to the masses, it’s Vanguard.
New VXX Tops $900M In AUM
Rounding out the fastest-growing ETFs list is an eclectic selection of funds. The iPath Series B S&P 500 Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) saw its assets surge from $220 million to $930 million this year. VXX, which formerly traded under the symbol VXXB until May, is a replacement product for the “original” VXX, which delisted in January after reaching maturity.
The iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia ETF (KSA), the iShares Broad USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (USHY), the JPMorgan BetaBuilders MSCI U.S. REIT ETF (BBRE), the First Trust Utilities AlphaDEX Fund (FXU), the iShares Government/Credit Bond ETF (GBF) and the Franklin LibertyQ U.S. Equity ETF (FLQL) are a handful of other funds to see their AUM more than triple so far this year.