2021 ETF Flows Shattering Records

April 01, 2021

The records piled up after a blazing-hot start for ETFs in the first quarter of 2021. According to the latest data from FactSet, U.S.-listed ETFs pulled in $245.4 billion in new money during Q1, the largest sum ever for any quarter.

Within the quarter were three very strong months, including inflows of $65.7 billion in January, $88.7 billion in February and $90.4 billion in March. In fact, March and February now stand as the second- and third-largest months for ETF inflows, respectively, behind only the $91.2 billion pulled in last November.

With one quarter in the books, 2021’s year-to-date inflows (equal to the Q1 figure) are more than triple the $71.9 billion seen at this same time a year ago. At the current pace, 2021 inflows would approach $1 trillion by year end, more than double the standing annual record of $476.1 billion set in 2017.

Strong Backdrop

2021’s inflows are no doubt being fueled by a roaring stock market and economy. The S&P 500 jumped 6.2% in the first quarter, while the Russell 2000 surged 12.9% in the same period.

Stocks are looking ahead to a stimulus-fueled economy that may expand by 11.7% on an annualized basis in Q2, and by 5.7% for the year as a whole, according to economists’ latest projections. That makes 2021 potentially the strongest year for growth since 1984.

Likewise, that strong GDP growth is expected to translate into stellar earnings growth for corporations. Profits for S&P 500 companies may surge 25% this year, exceeding pre-COVID levels, according to FactSet estimates. And they’re expected to jump another 15% next year.

With that backdrop, it’s not surprising to see investors so enthusiastically putting money to work in ETFs, including $119.9 billion in U.S. equity ETFs during the first quarter. Investors have also been bullish on international equities, where they’ve put $82.5 billion into related ETFs.

The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO), the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) and the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF) are the top asset gatherers of the year so far, each with inflows of more than $9 billion.

Fixed Income’s Tepid Year

Meanwhile, U.S. fixed income ETFs are having a relatively tepid year by recent standards. Only $31.3 billion flowed into the space during Q1—though in the context of the market environment, that’s not too bad. Treasury prices tumbled between the start of the year and the end of March; the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose from 0.91% to 1.74% (bond prices and yields move inversely).

The iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETF (IEF), the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) and the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) shed 5.7%, 13.9% and 3.4%, respectively, during the quarter.

At the same time, the iShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) and the iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) found themselves on the top outflows list for the year, with year-to-date redemptions of $10.4 billion and $4.6 billion, respectively.

The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), another interest rate sensitive fund, had outflows of $7.5 billion in the same period.

Growth Stock Turbulence

Though stocks broadly marched higher during the first quarter, the indices masked over volatility in certain pockets of the market. In particular, growth stocks took a dive from their high point in mid-February to their low point in March.

The ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK), one of the most popular high-growth funds on the market today, dropped 29.6% peak-to-trough in just three weeks.

Yet interestingly, investors never lost confidence in the ETF. ARKK has actually been one of the most in-demand funds of the year, pulling in $6.5 billion of new money on a year-to-date basis.

Certainly, there was a rough patch in which ARKK had five straight days of outflows, but it didn’t put a significant dent in the fund’s assets. And now investors are back in buying mode; on Wednesday, investors added $717 million to ARKK—the fund’s largest daily inflow ever.

Investors’ confidence in ARK has extended not just to ARKK, but across the issuer’s suite. Each of ARK’s eight ETFs has seen year-to-date inflows, totaling $16.1 billion.

That includes an impressive $281 million inflow for the ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF (ARKX), ARK’s newest fund, which launched on Tuesday.

Total assets under management for ARK ETFs now stand at $43.8 billion, making ARK the tenth-largest ETF issuer.

For a full list of the top inflows and outflows for the year so far, see the tables below:

Top Gainers (Year-to-Date)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM March 2021 Net Flows($,M)
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 ETF Vanguard 17,072.12 205,260.47 8.32% 4,142.00
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF Vanguard 9,744.13 222,910.40 4.37% 4,342.04
XLF Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund State Street Global Advisors 9,106.55 38,499.33 23.65% 1,947.49
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 ETF Blackrock 8,758.70 260,617.68 3.36% 2,748.77
IEMG iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF Blackrock 7,434.16 78,103.46 9.52% 3,482.02
ARKK ARK Innovation ETF ARK 6,483.93 21,308.25 30.43% 897.63
IUSB iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF Blackrock 6,397.61 12,081.06 52.96% 1,952.27
BND Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF Vanguard 5,668.31 71,031.83 7.98% 1,034.44
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF Vanguard 4,689.82 78,268.35 5.99% 2,799.53
VTV Vanguard Value ETF Vanguard 4,641.77 73,139.49 6.35% 2,268.76

 

Biggest Losers (Year-to-Date)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM March 2021 Net Flows($,M)
LQD iShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF Blackrock -10,437.53 41,738.61 -25.01% -2,725.10
GLD SPDR Gold Trust State Street Global Advisors -7,516.73 56,151.41 -13.39% -3,081.44
USMV iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF Blackrock -5,581.93 28,374.59 -19.67% -1,233.80
HYG iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF Blackrock -4,621.23 21,031.54 -21.97% -927.31
QUAL iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF Blackrock -2,889.66 19,580.95 -14.76% -381.56
SPY SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust State Street Global Advisors -2,794.38 343,730.26 -0.81% -160.10
XLP Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund State Street Global Advisors -2,432.18 10,983.45 -22.14% -47.82
TLT iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF Blackrock -2,260.24 14,308.10 -15.80% 843.30
JNK SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond ETF State Street Global Advisors -2,113.73 10,345.78 -20.43% 589.39
SHV iShares Short Treasury Bond ETF Blackrock -1,914.16 15,917.89 -12.03% -351.45

 

Asset Classes (Year-to-Date)

  Net Flows ($, mm) AUM ($, mm) % of AUM
U.S. Equity 119,889.00 3,423,444.40 3.50%
International Equity 82,543.00 1,166,506.11 7.08%
U.S. Fixed Income 31,291.47 974,873.29 3.21%
International Fixed Income 9,663.05 129,412.55 7.47%
Commodities -5,752.27 127,238.86 -4.52%
Currency 5.43 1,883.61 0.29%
Leveraged 3,671.50 51,867.50 7.08%
Inverse 1,888.30 11,715.36 16.12%
Asset Allocation 940.50 14,500.04 6.49%
Alternatives 1,233.12 5,910.57 20.86%
Total: 245,373.10 5,907,352.28 4.15%

 

Top Gainers (March 2021)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM YTD 2021 Net Flows($,M)
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF Vanguard 4,342.04 222,910.40 1.95% 9,744.13
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 ETF Vanguard 4,142.00 205,260.47 2.02% 17,072.12
IEMG iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF Blackrock 3,482.02 78,103.46 4.46% 7,434.16
VWO Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF Vanguard 2,799.53 78,268.35 3.58% 4,689.82
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 ETF Blackrock 2,748.77 260,617.68 1.05% 8,758.70
RSP Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF Invesco 2,337.69 24,294.22 9.62% 3,968.74
VTV Vanguard Value ETF Vanguard 2,268.76 73,139.49 3.10% 4,641.77
IWD iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF Blackrock 2,170.49 51,266.07 4.23% 2,394.33
VSS Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap ETF Vanguard 2,160.44 8,582.90 25.17% 2,514.88
IUSB iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF Blackrock 1,952.27 12,081.06 16.16% 6,397.61

 

Biggest Losers (March 2021)

Ticker Name Issuer Net Flows ($,mm) AUM ($M) % of AUM YTD 2021 Net Flows($,M)
GLD SPDR Gold Trust State Street Global Advisors -3,081.44 56,151.41 -5.49% -7,516.73
LQD iShares iBoxx USD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF Blackrock -2,725.10 41,738.61 -6.53% -10,437.53
USMV iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF Blackrock -1,233.80 28,374.59 -4.35% -5,581.93
SLV iShares Silver Trust Blackrock -1,051.43 13,989.99 -7.52% 590.04
HYG iShares iBoxx USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF Blackrock -927.31 21,031.54 -4.41% -4,621.23
TIP iShares TIPS Bond ETF Blackrock -919.46 26,071.26 -3.53% 151.16
IYR iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF Blackrock -898.56 4,686.43 -19.17% -1,027.65
HYLB Xtrackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF Deutsche Bank -883.21 6,741.99 -13.10% -684.10
IAU iShares Gold Trust Blackrock -858.37 27,272.01 -3.15% -1,145.80
GEM Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Emerging Markets Equity ETF Goldman Sachs -637.46 1,325.64 -48.09% -550.47

 

Asset Classes (March 2021)

  Net Flows ($, mm) AUM ($, mm) % of AUM
U.S. Equity 59,098.12 3,423,444.40 1.73%
International Equity 19,953.31 1,166,506.11 1.71%
U.S. Fixed Income 10,819.25 974,873.29 1.11%
International Fixed Income 2,303.78 129,412.55 1.78%
Commodities -4,358.16 127,238.86 -3.43%
Currency -98.89 1,883.61 -5.25%
Leveraged 2,361.17 51,867.50 4.55%
Inverse -28.19 11,715.36 -0.24%
Asset Allocation 313.71 14,500.04 2.16%
Alternatives 83.91 5,910.57 1.42%
Total: 90,448.00 5,907,352.28 1.53%

 

March 2021 ETF Issuer League Table

Issuer Net Flows ($,M) AUM ($,M) % of AUM YTD 2021 Net Flows($,M)
Blackrock 22,839.87 2,134,333.81 1.07% 43,970.43
Vanguard 30,361.63 1,653,668.06 1.84% 88,169.54
State Street Global Advisors 9,850.79 901,418.78 1.09% 18,416.90
Invesco 9,461.29 317,877.31 2.98% 16,298.91
Charles Schwab 4,103.16 220,058.84 1.86% 10,400.34
First Trust 2,410.35 115,421.53 2.09% 6,263.25
JPMorgan Chase 2,532.42 55,965.16 4.52% 9,280.72
VanEck 1,241.25 53,851.97 2.30% 2,515.66
ProShares 1,006.63 51,548.55 1.95% 4,288.45
ARK -510.91 45,067.43 -1.13% 16,050.43
WisdomTree 800.17 42,193.32 1.90% 1,297.44
Mirae Asset 1,477.16 28,098.32 5.26% 7,643.45
PIMCO 315.50 26,396.25 1.20% 690.80
Fidelity 535.84 26,108.09 2.05% 1,494.51
Direxion 1,481.21 22,836.16 6.49% 2,156.86
Goldman Sachs -533.62 22,267.66 -2.40% -347.84
Deutsche Bank -758.96 20,753.00 -3.66% -4.58
Northern Trust 415.26 16,447.43 2.52% 1,232.49
Franklin Templeton -253.12 8,824.83 -2.87% 33.92
SS&C 161.62 8,520.56 1.90% 347.70
CICC 700.57 8,354.73 8.39% 2,356.58
ETFMG 172.97 6,874.27 2.52% 980.50
Exchange Traded Concepts 110.74 6,459.78 1.71% 878.63
Aberdeen Standard Investments -58.46 6,407.21 -0.91% 264.34
Victory Capital -27.38 6,278.42 -0.44% 260.81
Pacer Advisors 173.86 6,245.03 2.78% 188.32
American Century Investments 594.32 5,265.29 11.29% 1,087.86
Grace Partners of Dupage LP 7.96 4,997.27 0.16% 471.85
Amplify Investments 104.07 4,637.17 2.24% 1,191.10
Innovator 94.66 4,630.58 2.04% 458.17
John Hancock 33.41 4,621.50 0.72% -764.08
New York Life 347.11 4,486.39 7.74% 550.98
US Commodity Funds -443.48 4,372.56 -10.14% -1,470.71
Principal 65.63 4,220.70 1.55% 150.03
US Global Investors 132.92 4,157.01 3.20% 509.94
Janus Henderson -40.85 4,144.26 -0.99% 223.37
The Hartford 19.73 3,846.99 0.51% 51.97
Nuveen Securities 76.18 3,471.56 2.19% 680.43
Barclays Capital Inc. 75.74 2,901.13 2.61% 914.57
BMO 165.14 2,369.29 6.97% 248.36
AdvisorShares 146.69 2,140.72 6.85% 1,182.33
Toroso Investments 34.02 1,919.49 1.77% 424.97
O’Shares Investments -33.91 1,498.59 -2.26% 45.30
Vident 1.52 1,457.56 0.10% -0.78
Prudential 68.52 1,456.87 4.70% 105.22
Columbia Management Investment Advisers, LLC 48.66 1,448.91 3.36% 204.45
GraniteShares -16.30 1,336.67 -1.22% 105.30
Defiance ETFs -8.56 1,286.01 -0.67% 255.19
Davis Advisers 15.95 1,246.40 1.28% 58.24
Aptus Capital Advisors 15.49 1,109.35 1.40% 114.95
Dimensional Holdings 203.00 1,036.16 19.59% 620.01
Virtus Investment Partners 87.41 1,012.55 8.63% 96.69
UBS 2.40 1,000.75 0.24% -22.70
Cambria 70.84 996.92 7.11% 126.03
EMPIRICAL FINANCE LLC 34.13 876.18 3.90% 193.10
Main Management 128.04 855.17 14.97% 155.04
Inspire 54.87 851.22 6.45% 77.44
Credit Suisse Group AG 61.30 832.18 7.37% 141.58
Transamerica Funds -6.74 758.09 -0.89% -29.97
BNY Mellon 49.48 704.26 7.03% 184.49
Renaissance Capital -184.06 690.25 -26.67% -11.41
Roundhill Investments 56.96 647.17 8.80% 342.46
Nationwide 29.63 600.13 4.94% 107.50
The Motley Fool 12.79 595.83 2.15% 56.19
Tortoise 23.07 472.80 4.88% 14.44
Merk -0.20 426.33 -0.05% 35.87
Timothy Plan 0.31 425.16 0.07% 3.50
Strategy Shares 69.52 389.55 17.85% 176.55
SRN Advisors 4.35 378.71 1.15% 62.95
Al Marketing LLC -9.01 363.85 -2.48% -17.58
TrimTabs -3.13 362.76 -0.86% -13.89
Redwood Investment Management 45.31 347.55 13.04% -91.33
Teucrium -19.08 341.97 -5.58% 18.30
Sprott, Inc. 2.58 339.55 0.76% 20.76
Distillate Capital 30.69 324.32 9.46% 81.95
Liquid Strategies -25.13 319.53 -7.87% 22.54
Howard Capital Management 11.37 312.86 3.63% 19.29
WBI -13.71 302.99 -4.52% -35.86
Regents Park Funds 17.84 291.92 6.11% 30.46
ClearShares LLC -5.00 273.94 -1.83% -2.52
Tuttle Tactical Management, LLC -17.41 268.45 -6.49% 120.97
Simplify Asset Management Inc. 78.28 252.34 31.02% 135.93
OBP Capital LLC 2.61 246.59 1.06% 115.57
Swedish Export Credit 1.52 239.23 0.64% -12.80
T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. 23.43 221.92 10.56% 66.27
Intangible Capital -0.02 179.70 -0.01% -0.02
EntrepreneurShares, LLC -1.08 175.10 -0.62% 3.22
Donald L. Hagan LLC 6.11 172.03 3.55% 26.54
Core Alternative Capital -0.05 159.12 -0.03% 16.79
ProcureAM -7.06 130.02 -5.43% 84.49
Little Harbor Advisors 19.82 127.84 15.50% 67.84
Syntax Advisors 20.08 112.09 17.91% 19.79
Arrow Funds 0.56 109.86 0.51% 0.56
Cboe Vest Financial LLC 10.11 108.83 9.29% 14.86
Gadsden 3.17 107.25 2.96% 8.63
TrueMark Investments 6.87 106.01 6.48% 38.28
AGF -20.98 105.58 -19.87% -18.13
CornerCap Investment Counsel, Inc. 10.97 97.23 11.28% 27.48
RBS Securities 18.02 93.72 19.22% 105.05
Exponential ETFs 0.00 92.23 0.00% 1.49
Wahed Invest LLC 6.03 89.91 6.70% 20.05
Pettee Investors -5.62 58.96 -9.54% 9.92
Natixis 4.16 58.73 7.09% 6.61
Metaurus Advisors 1.95 58.14 3.35% 2.47
Advisors Asset Management 4.65 57.47 8.09% 9.32
Pacific Life 0.00 57.07 0.00% 0.00
Change Finance 7.44 52.34 14.21% 17.62
iM Global Partner 1.37 50.95 2.70% -6.83
Esoterica 0.00 47.99 0.00% 31.64
Absolute Investment Advisers LLC 4.55 46.11 9.86% 7.10
Beyond Investing 2.68 44.56 6.01% 7.11
Toews Corp. -1.88 44.22 -4.26% -4.51
Impact Shares 0.01 43.83 0.02% 6.51
Premise Capital -0.78 43.65 -1.78% -7.66
Highland Capital Management -1.61 43.52 -3.69% -9.78
Infusive Asset Management 0.00 41.27 0.00% 5.04
Emles Advisors LLC -12.36 41.05 -30.11% -26.65
Cabot ETF Partners LLC 6.56 38.99 16.82% 35.11
Swan Global Investments 8.24 30.64 26.88% 28.85
MCCM Group LLC -8.38 30.00 -27.92% 38.37
Neil Azous Revocable Trust 8.26 28.69 28.80% 8.26
ETF Series Solutions -0.02 27.16 -0.09% 1.18
Truist 2.70 25.57 10.55% 6.02
AlphaMark Advisors 0.00 25.23 0.00% -1.41
Guinness Atkinson Asset Management 0.89 21.18 4.20% 12.96
WisdomTree Investments, Inc. 5.56 16.45 33.77% 18.05
Changebridge Capital LLC 2.72 15.64 17.42% 8.94
Inverdale Capital Management LLC 3.34 15.08 22.15% 10.41
The Leuthold Group LLC 0.73 14.48 5.02% 1.43
Counterpoint Mutual Funds LLC -0.60 11.37 -5.25% -1.20
GAMCO Investors, Inc. 0.48 11.04 4.37% 5.54
Rayliant Investment Research 0.00 10.33 -0.02% 8.17
Alternative Access Funds LLC 0.00 10.04 0.00% 0.00
EquBot 0.00 9.50 0.00% 3.34
Point Bridge Capital -1.71 9.49 -18.00% -1.71
Mairs & Power, Inc. 7.75 7.76 99.88% 7.75
2nd Vote Value Investments, Inc 0.68 6.57 10.35% 0.68
Water Island Capital Partners LP 0.00 6.41 0.03% 0.00
Ridgeline Research LLC 0.00 5.28 0.00% 2.14
Global Beta Advisors 0.52 4.26 12.16% -3.57
New Age Alpha Advisors LLC -0.63 3.50 -18.05% 1.94
Gotham Asset Management Holdings 0.52 3.20 16.23% 1.03
Reflection Asset Management, LLC 0.59 3.06 19.41% 0.59
Whitford Asset Management 0.00 3.00 0.00% 0.00
Wilshire Phoenix Funds LLC 0.00 1.70 0.00% 0.00
Eaton Vance Corp. 0.00 0.00 0.00% 0.00
Humankind USA LLC 0.00 0.00 0.00% 0.00

 

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.

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