Record ETF Assets Growth In 2020

2020 ETF inflows topped $507 billion, surpassing the $476.1 billion from 2017.

sumit
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Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
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Edited by: Sumit Roy

It's official: Investors added the largest sum ever to ETFs during 2020. After all was said and done, a whopping $507.4 billion flowed into U.S.-listed ETFs during the year, topping the previous record of $476.1 billion from 2017. Annual inflows for 2020 were also 55% greater than the $326.3 billion registered in 2019. 

Strong performance for asset classes across the board was the fuel that drove investors to plow money into exchange-traded funds at an unprecedented clip. By many measures, investor enthusiasm at the end of 2020 was unlike anything seen in years, and marked a sharp turnaround from the pessimism and despair seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The S&P 500 surged 18.4% on the year, while the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index jumped 7.5%. 

Certain pockets of the market, from software to biotech to alternative energy, easily outperformed the broader benchmarks, delivering eye-popping gains. The Nasdaq-100 Index rallied 48.9% on the year.

Fixed Income Leads For Second Year

Despite the surge in stocks, somehow U.S. fixed income ETFs managed to attract more buying from ETF investors. U.S. fixed income ETFs as a group picked up $186.4 billion of new money during 2020, outpacing the $165.4 billion picked up by U.S. equity ETFs.

It was the second year in a row in which U.S. fixed income ETF flows beat U.S. equity ETFs flows, and reflects investors' growing use of exchange-traded funds for fixed income exposure. 2020 also marked the first time that the Federal Reserve bought corporate bonds, with the central bank initially using ETFs to stabilize the markets during the panic in March.

The Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND), the iShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) and the Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCIT)  each had inflows of more than $14.7 billion during 2020. 

Vanguard Reigns Supreme 

While U.S. fixed income took the flows crown at the asset class level, it was an equity ETF that topped the flows list for individual ETFs. The Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) registered inflows of $32.6 billion, pushing its assets under management to more than $200 billion.

The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)  and the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) followed behind, each with inflows of more than $16.7 billion. 

Meanwhile, the Vanguard Total International Stock ETF (VXUS) and the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) were the most popular international equity ETF and commodity ETF of 2020, respectively, each with inflows of more than $15 billion.

'SPY' Sheds $22 Billion

Though 2020 was an ebullient year, not every ETF attracted inflows. Some high-profile duds included the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA)  and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), with outflows of $24.6 billion, $11.8 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively. 

Investors also shunned low-vol funds like the iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF (USMV) and the Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF (SPLV), both of which found themselves on the top outflows list for the year.

For a full list of 2020's top inflows and outflows, see the tables below:

 

Top Gainers (December 2020)

TickerNameIssuerNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($M)% of AUMYTD 2020 Net Flows($,M)
VTIVanguard Total Stock Market ETFVanguard5,424.29200,920.712.70%32,623.27
IEMGiShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETFBlackrock3,598.9868,609.305.25%-563.20
IWMiShares Russell 2000 ETFBlackrock3,296.5758,757.375.61%2,748.02
ARKKARK Innovation ETFARK3,253.4718,048.4118.03%9,492.03
ARKGARK Genomic Revolution ETFARK3,192.497,885.8740.48%5,245.17
BNDVanguard Total Bond Market ETFVanguard2,437.1468,065.473.58%17,217.83
VXUSVanguard Total International Stock ETFVanguard2,203.3738,568.245.71%16,002.66
BNDXVanguard Total International Bond ETFVanguard1,989.4137,194.535.35%11,929.66
AGGiShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETFBlackrock1,908.7685,132.942.24%12,475.29
TIPiShares TIPS Bond ETFBlackrock1,654.9026,307.946.29%3,770.89

 

Top Gainers (Year-to-Date)

TickerNameIssuerNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($M)% of AUMDecember 2020 Net Flows($,M)
VTIVanguard Total Stock Market ETFVanguard32,623.27200,920.7116.24%5,424.29
VOOVanguard S&P 500 ETFVanguard21,431.58176,967.8912.11%-5,135.00
BNDVanguard Total Bond Market ETFVanguard17,217.8368,065.4725.30%2,437.14
QQQInvesco QQQ TrustInvesco16,733.95151,436.3111.05%312.92
VXUSVanguard Total International Stock ETFVanguard16,002.6638,568.2441.49%2,203.37
GLDSPDR Gold TrustState Street15,129.7171,026.8421.30%-1,385.31
LQDiShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETFBlackrock15,020.1055,074.4927.27%-3,177.06
VCITVanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETFVanguard14,790.2742,470.5134.82%938.78
AGGiShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETFBlackrock12,475.2985,132.9414.65%1,908.76
BNDXVanguard Total International Bond ETFVanguard11,929.6637,194.5332.07%1,989.41

 

Biggest Losers (December 2020)

TickerNameIssuerNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($M)% of AUMYTD 2020 Net Flows($,M)
VOOVanguard S&P 500 ETFVanguard-5,135.00176,967.89-2.90%21,431.58
SPYSPDR S&P 500 ETF TrustState Street-4,298.34326,894.62-1.31%-24,580.85
IVViShares Core S&P 500 ETFBlackrock-3,778.41237,299.61-1.59%6,350.44
QUALiShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETFBlackrock-3,467.8621,481.15-16.14%2,191.34
LQDiShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETFBlackrock-3,177.0655,074.49-5.77%15,020.10
HYGiShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETFBlackrock-1,845.0525,719.29-7.17%5,794.13
DIASPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF TrustState Street-1,815.9724,089.56-7.54%-109.75
IEFiShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETFBlackrock-1,448.4314,833.75-9.76%-4,466.61
GLDSPDR Gold TrustState Street-1,385.3171,026.84-1.95%15,129.71
BBEUJPMorgan BetaBuilders Europe ETFJPMorgan Chase-1,110.983,407.90-32.60%-456.78

 

Biggest Losers (Year-to-Date)

TickerNameIssuerNet Flows ($,mm)AUM ($M)% of AUMDecember 2020 Net Flows($,M)
SPYSPDR S&P 500 ETF TrustState Street-24,580.85326,894.62-7.52%-4,298.34
EFAiShares MSCI EAFE ETFBlackrock-11,839.1553,053.45-22.32%171.84
EEMiShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETFBlackrock-4,624.0928,254.31-16.37%293.03
USMViShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETFBlackrock-4,495.3433,111.17-13.58%-738.05
IEFiShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETFBlackrock-4,466.6114,833.75-30.11%-1,448.43
IJHiShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETFBlackrock-4,295.2653,682.06-8.00%86.11
FLOTiShares Floating Rate Bond ETFBlackrock-4,283.265,376.60-79.66%-162.29
IWFiShares Russell 1000 Growth ETFBlackrock-3,224.7864,299.95-5.02%-287.14
SHViShares Short Treasury Bond ETFBlackrock-2,942.2917,832.01-16.50%-1,077.43
SPLVInvesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETFInvesco-2,911.148,118.26-35.86%-471.73

 

Asset Classes (December 2020)

 Net Flows ($, mm)AUM ($, mm)% of AUM
U.S. Equity13,462.653,085,507.440.44%
International Equity29,955.001,062,379.372.82%
U.S. Fixed Income14,412.20968,811.081.49%
International Fixed Income4,752.31123,724.663.84%
Commodities-789.86143,985.38-0.55%
Currency57.131,918.112.98%
Leveraged-1,151.0845,314.10-2.54%
Inverse39.4310,880.720.36%
Asset Allocation313.2713,265.642.36%
Alternatives151.335,291.752.86%
Total:61,202.385,461,078.251.12%

 

Asset Classes (Year-to-Date)

 Net Flows ($, mm)AUM ($, mm)% of AUM
U.S. Equity165,377.223,085,507.445.36%
International Equity72,407.921,062,379.376.82%
U.S. Fixed Income186,387.38968,811.0819.24%
International Fixed Income25,515.58123,724.6620.62%
Commodities40,016.74143,985.3827.79%
Currency562.291,918.1129.31%
Leveraged394.2945,314.100.87%
Inverse13,510.8410,880.72124.17%
Asset Allocation2,911.8813,265.6421.95%
Alternatives359.555,291.756.79%
Total:507,443.685,461,078.259.29%

 

December 2020 ETF Issuer League Table

IssuerNet Flows ($,M)AUM ($,M)% of AUMYTD 2020 Net Flows($,M)
Blackrock11,664.712,021,101.370.58%121,293.85
Vanguard25,181.461,504,109.921.67%199,917.58
State Street Global Advisors-3,530.24841,150.01-0.42%35,083.09
Invesco4,429.18294,440.091.50%20,017.43
Charles Schwab3,070.21198,390.091.55%15,703.60
First Trust2,007.23110,469.371.82%12,867.84
VanEck2,016.0053,705.883.75%5,014.42
ProShares-750.6246,921.79-1.60%14,352.92
JPMorgan Chase888.0044,981.631.97%12,090.72
WisdomTree579.6238,435.951.51%-1,227.85
ARK8,455.5335,121.9524.07%20,446.42
PIMCO319.2825,872.751.23%3,502.41
Fidelity704.7423,606.932.99%4,045.44
Mirae Asset1,697.5220,857.718.14%6,599.60
Deutsche Bank448.6520,235.172.22%2,740.80
Direxion-32.6418,710.10-0.17%5,197.46
Goldman Sachs354.2117,567.822.02%2,161.88
Northern Trust-139.0814,349.03-0.97%-1,721.97
Franklin Templeton83.918,739.220.96%2,664.76
SS&C269.197,356.763.66%-1,157.91
Aberdeen Standard Investments71.976,383.151.13%2,057.19
CICC-145.006,180.53-2.35%1,985.52
Pacer Advisors84.385,757.131.47%76.73
Victory Capital-9.685,588.99-0.17%-8.86
ETFMG394.585,578.197.07%1,054.36
Exchange Traded Concepts262.475,516.294.76%2,092.33
John Hancock9.045,006.530.18%-205.38
US Commodity Funds-261.254,822.58-5.42%4,696.49
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.-251.544,397.39-5.72%-194.37
Innovator116.753,994.392.92%1,418.56
Principal2.913,987.190.07%277.25
Janus Henderson174.763,928.484.45%2,402.92
New York Life160.583,864.624.16%365.41
American Century Investments265.863,815.396.97%2,039.49
The Hartford36.983,716.011.00%-327.17
Amplify Investments370.833,129.3311.85%1,642.74
US Global Investors199.993,046.576.56%2,302.86
Nuveen Securities152.692,621.005.83%1,271.33
Barclays Capital Inc.2.272,321.380.10%-414.62
BMO0.001,982.760.00%647.62
Toroso Investments107.401,536.796.99%901.56
O’Shares Investments98.731,469.356.72%476.37
Prudential105.141,344.547.82%451.83
Vident-12.111,343.33-0.90%-296.35
GraniteShares-13.771,329.17-1.04%435.22
Columbia Management Investment Advisers, LLC217.711,269.5017.15%530.54
Davis Advisers9.431,079.910.87%165.09
AdvisorShares111.481,053.6410.58%382.85
Defiance ETFs165.571,000.4916.55%667.21
Aptus Capital Advisors44.48980.414.54%487.63
UBS-18.89900.28-2.10%-2,138.06
Cambria-24.14840.74-2.87%207.04
Virtus Investment Partners58.38833.947.00%-3.56
Renaissance Capital268.62782.3234.34%608.36
Transamerica Funds-4.48752.69-0.60%-63.63
Inspire1.36687.770.20%154.31
Credit Suisse Group AG35.12670.675.24%-1,497.01
EMPIRICAL FINANCE LLC10.62655.061.62%133.70
Main Management6.87649.061.06%6.94
The Motley Fool32.36550.305.88%132.79
Nationwide19.87497.613.99%80.31
BNY Mellon65.14496.8113.11%213.72
Merk14.01441.003.18%198.71
Redwood Investment Management133.23407.2632.71%255.21
Tortoise15.89397.354.00%-1.49
Timothy Plan6.88388.331.77%97.51
Sprott, Inc.7.38386.611.91%60.45
Al Marketing LLC-2.68376.34-0.71%-53.35
TrimTabs161.13364.0944.26%197.15
WBI-12.89319.41-4.04%-137.43
Teucrium-25.61313.08-8.18%90.17
Liquid Strategies4.05290.291.40%156.09
Howard Capital Management5.51283.461.94%99.14
Roundhill Investments49.09283.1717.34%193.06
SRN Advisors23.34278.458.38%118.69
ClearShares LLC-5.01273.68-1.83%62.78
Regents Park Funds14.56255.515.70%142.90
Swedish Export Credit12.75233.835.45%-20.31
Strategy Shares75.28220.1234.20%183.39
Distillate Capital5.38207.942.59%116.71
EntrepreneurShares, LLC2.53191.691.32%27.02
Intangible Capital0.03174.060.02%1.34
T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.24.79149.9916.53%76.98
Tuttle Tactical Management, LLC17.23148.7211.58%128.78
AGF-18.33145.67-12.58%53.68
Core Alternative Capital0.00138.280.00%25.70
Donald L. Hagan LLC4.33137.123.16%113.92
OBP Capital LLC10.23126.938.06%53.95
Arrow Funds0.00105.910.00%-12.50
Simplify Asset Management Inc.6.5699.466.59%91.11
Gadsden4.9598.195.04%34.42
Cboe Vest Financial LLC4.7586.275.50%30.56
Exponential ETFs0.9683.771.15%1.31
Wahed Invest LLC5.8167.458.61%32.76
Emles Advisors LLC4.4166.416.64%48.28
TrueMark Investments5.8865.558.97%54.55
Syntax Advisors1.3962.292.23%-26.12
CornerCap Investment Counsel, Inc.4.6359.647.76%54.05
Pacific Life0.0057.070.00%0.00
iM Global Partner-9.6955.09-17.58%17.58
Metaurus Advisors0.4653.020.86%0.46
Highland Capital Management-3.1852.88-6.01%-213.70
Natixis-9.2949.81-18.64%-4.38
Premise Capital-2.2549.35-4.55%6.07
Toews Corp.-1.2648.85-2.58%42.35
ProcureAM8.3043.1219.24%27.51
Advisors Asset Management1.1642.872.71%-0.21
Pettee Investors0.8340.402.06%26.24
Absolute Investment Advisers LLC1.9037.415.08%33.65
Beyond Investing1.7136.024.74%18.23
Impact Shares0.7435.392.08%18.15
Change Finance2.8532.798.70%14.81
AlphaMark Advisors0.0023.680.00%0.00
ETF Series Solutions0.5823.422.49%8.72
Truist4.5520.4822.24%17.93
Esoterica2.5120.1812.42%12.90
Neil Azous Revocable Trust0.6719.233.48%-1.78
Little Harbor Advisors-5.4917.73-30.97%19.22
The Leuthold Group LLC0.0012.680.00%11.42
Counterpoint Mutual Funds LLC0.0012.620.00%12.90
Alternative Access Funds LLC0.0010.000.00%9.98
Point Bridge Capital0.009.590.00%-4.78
Guinness Atkinson Asset Management2.498.0131.06%3.53
Global Beta Advisors0.017.240.17%-0.29
Water Island Capital Partners LP0.006.430.00%3.75
EquBot0.006.180.00%1.56
Inverdale Capital Management LLC1.973.3159.64%1.97
Grace Partners of Dupage LP0.003.110.00%0.00
Whitford Asset Management0.002.750.00%-1.07
Reflection Asset Management, LLC0.002.29-0.02%2.02

 

Disclaimer: All data as of 6 a.m. Eastern time the date the article is published. Data is believed to be accurate; however, transient market data is often subject to subsequent revision and correction by the exchanges.

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he's worked for 12 years. Before joining the company, Roy was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing pickleball and snowboarding.