Fastest Growing ETFs Of 2020

What were small funds at the start of the year have become much larger in just five months.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
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Edited by: Sumit Roy

Here at ETF.com, we talk a lot about asset flows into and out of ETFs. 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, year to date, the $139 billion Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) and the $108 billion Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) have had the largest inflows, totaling $15.8 billion and $12.8 billion, respectively.

No matter how you slice it, those are sizable inflows. That said, VOO and QQQ aren’t necessarily the ETFs growing the fastest.
On an absolute basis they are, but not on a percentage basis. Year-to-date inflows for the two ETFs represent an increase of 12.1% and 14.7%, respectively, over their total assets at the start of the year. Those are huge, 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 2020—ETFs that almost never make our flows lists because they are starting from a much smaller asset base. In this article, we’ll take a look at these fast-growing funds, which, in many cases, are flying under the radar of the ETF investing public at large.

Measuring Growth
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 assets under management (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 2020.

 

Fastest Growing ETFs of 2020 (Starting AUM >$0)

TickerFund2019 Year-End AUM ($M)Current AUM ($M)% Increase
DAUGFT Cboe Vest U.S. Equity Deep Buffer ETF - August3.1261.78425.9%
HEROGlobal X Video Games & Esports ETF1.699.65998.8%
FLIAFranklin Liberty International Aggregate Bond ETF5.1207.33997.5%
AESRAnfield U.S. Equity Sector Rotation ETF1.855.93071.5%
JETSUS Global Jets ETF52.01,009.01841.3%
RPARRPAR Risk Parity ETF32.6470.41341.2%
WCLDWisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund14.1193.61277.5%
BJUNInnovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF - June5.052.1949.8%
DNOVFT Cboe Vest U.S. Equity Deep Buffer ETF - November10.9109.4907.3%
QLVDFlexShares Developed Markets ex-US Quality Low Volatility Index Fund5.252.5899.8%
RECSColumbia Research Enhanced Core ETF5.451.2849.8%
BDRYBreakwave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF2.321.7839.3%
UJUNInnovator S&P 500 Ultra Buffer ETF - June2.623.3789.4%
IQSIIQ Candriam ESG International Equity ETF11.494.5731.8%
HIBSDirexion Daily S&P 500 High Beta Bear 3X Shares3.024.3717.8%

Data measures the year-to-date period through June 2. Source: Bloomberg

 

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 FT Cboe Vest U.S. Equity Deep Buffer ETF – August (DAUG), which has grown its AUM from $3 million at the start of the year to $262 million currently, an increase of more than 8,400%.

DAUG provides investors exposure to the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), while limiting the downside and capping the upside of returns. It’s the first of two defined outcome ETFs from First Trust, and follows the success of a similar line of funds from Innovator.

Another ETF to catch fire this year is the Global X Video Game & Esports ETF (HERO), where AUM grew from less than $2 million to just under $100 million. The video game industry has been one of the prime beneficiaries of the stay-at-home environment that COVID-19 has brought about.

Another beneficiary of that environment is the cloud computing industry. From video conferencing applications to e-commerce tools to productivity and collaboration software, cloud-based software has been in high demand. That’s powered the WisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund (WCLD) to strong gains, attracting the attention of investors. So far this year, the fund’s assets have grown from $14 million to $194 million, an increase of 1,278%.

Bargain Hunting
Of course, not every popular ETF is one that has performed well. Some beaten-down funds have also attracted interest from investors looking to snatch up bargains. The US Global Jets ETF (JETS) fits that bill.

Stocks in the airline industry were hammered as the travel industry came to a standstill in March and April. Some tentative signs of recovery have begun to emerge, lifting airline stocks off their lows. Investors in JETS, who have bolstered the fund’s assets nearly 20-fold this year, are hoping that that recovery continues.

Larger Starting Point
Thus far, the ETFs we’ve looked at began the year with only a few million dollars in assets. The largest among those was JETS, which started 2020 with $52 million in AUM and increased to $1 billion.

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 2020 (Starting AUM >$50M)

TickerFund2019 Year-End AUM ($M)Current AUM ($M)% Increase
JETSUS Global Jets ETF52.0970.61767.4%
KOMPSPDR S&P Kensho New Economies Composite ETF112.9691.4512.6%
USLUnited States 12 Month Oil Fund LP55.1321.0482.8%
UCOProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil309.81558.4403.0%
ESGUiShares ESG MSCI U.S.A. ETF1463.47353.7402.5%
BNOUnited States Brent Oil Fund LP84.7412.9387.5%
NAILDirexion Daily Homebuilders & Supplies Bull 3X Shares57.9275.8376.8%
AVUVAvantis U.S. Small Cap Value ETF57.3250.2336.2%
ESPOVanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF57.0233.0308.7%
USOUnited States Oil Fund LP1196.54798.8301.1%
ESGEiShares ESG MSCI EM ETF880.63300.7274.8%
UUPInvesco DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish Fund228.3825.7261.6%
SRVRPacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate SCTR ETF197.4677.9243.5%
SDOWProShares UltraPro Short Dow30252.5807.1219.6%
FLHYFranklin Liberty High Yield Corporate ETF53.5158.8196.7%

Data measures the year-to-date period through June 2. Source: Bloomberg

 

Aggressive Oil Bets
A quick look at the list above reveals that JETS isn’t the only ETF that investors dug up from the bargain bin as the onset of the coronavirus became apparent and the economy began shutting down. Oil ETFs, like the United States 12 Month Oil Fund LP (USL), the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil (UCO), the United States Brent Oil Fund LP (BNO) and the United States Oil Fund LP (USO) all saw explosive growth in their assets this year.

Due to the structure of the crude oil futures curve, these ETFs have not delivered the returns that investors had expected when crude oil prices rebounded. But billions of dollars still remain committed to the funds.

USO is the poster child of 2020’s oil ETF debacle. Front-month oil futures are down 38.5% year to date, while USO is down 73.6% in the same period. USO started the year with $1.2 billion in assets and currently has $4.8 billion in assets, a difference of $3.6 billion—much less than the $6.5 billion investors have put into the ETF during the year.

ESG Enters ETF Big Leagues
While one group of investors was plowing their money into oil funds, another group was focused on funds that shun oil—  environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETFs. The iShares ESG MSCI U.S.A. ETF (ESGU) and the iShares ESG MSCI EM ETF (ESGE) are both seeing robust demand in 2020. They are now the two largest ESG funds on the market.

ESGU’s assets jumped from $1.5 billion at the start of 2020 to $7.4 billion currently, while ESGE’s AUM rose from $881 million to $3.3 billion.

With more than $10 billion invested in just these two funds, ESG has clearly become a force to be reckoned with.

​Email Sumit Roy at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @sumitroy2

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.