Small ETF Issuers See Big Asset Gains

A look at 2015 asset flows shows smaller players are quickly carving out their niche.

Reviewed by: Cinthia Murphy
Edited by: Cinthia Murphy

In 2015, investors poured $242 billion of fresh net assets into U.S.-listed ETFs, about 75% of which—or roughly $180 billion—landed into funds from just two providers: iShares and Vanguard. These two firms rank as the No. 1 and No. 2 issuers by assets, and command some $1.310 trillion in U.S. ETF assets, or about two thirds of the total market.

There’s no question they are huge, and that they are still growing. Last year, their asset base grew 12% and 15% thanks to net creations, respectively, according to FactSet data. It’s “the big getting bigger.”

But if their dominance goes unchecked, their challengers are growing stronger percentagewise. Consider that out of 65 ETF issuers last year, 10 saw net asset inflows of more than 100% of their total AUM in 12 months. One of them saw an inflow growth of 220.4% in 2015.

From a percentage perspective, that’s serious growth, even if in nominal terms, we are often talking about firms with less than $50 million in total assets under management.

Here’s a list of the most impressive asset growth the ETF industry saw in 2015. Note that the second column reflects fresh new money these firms attracted in 2015, while the third column reflects their total assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2015—a figure that is a result of asset flows and performance.

IssuerNet Flows
Total AUM
2015 ($M)
% Of AUM
Montage Managers25.6018.70137
Academy Funds70.5060.90116
TrimTabs Asset Management15.9013.90114
Highland Capital10.809.74111
Lattice Strategies80.2073.50109
Principal Financial Group31.9029.98107
Pacer Financial546.00521.00105
Goldman Sachs859.00975.00088
Franklin ETF Trust161.90188.70086
Deutsche Bank16,650.0020,820.00080
U.S. Commodity Funds3,310.004,410.00075

Contact Cinthia Murphy at [email protected].

Cinthia Murphy is head of digital experience, advocating for the user in all that does. She previously served as managing editor and writer for, specializing in ETF content and multimedia. Cinthia’s experience includes time at Dow Jones and former BridgeNews, covering commodity futures markets in Chicago and Brazil equities in Sao Paulo. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.