Snapshot of the ETF Industry

Just for fun, we thought we would put all the key facts related to the ETF industry in one spot.... So here goes. Our database contains 2,478 exchange traded products:

CategoryCount
58
Alternatives194
Asset Allocation65
Commodities110
Global Equity677
Global Fixed Income27
Special Security Types53
US Equity904
US Fixed Income 390
Total2,478

This includes both exchange traded funds (ETFs) and exchange traded notes (ETNs):

ETP TypeCount
ETF2,405
ETN73
Total2,478

Throughout this website, we tend to loosely use the term "ETF" to refer to both ETFs and ETNs. Some people use the term "ETP" for exchange traded products, but we tend to use the term "ETF". Read more about what an ETN is.

As shown in this table, most ETFs today track an index:

Investment StyleETF Count
58
Actively managed417
Buys and sells commodity futures on a set pattern11
Follows a set investment pattern3
Other113
Passively tracks an index1,851
Physically owns a precious metal13
Tracks price of currency exchange rates12
Total2,478

The ETF industry continues to grow. Let's look at the launch date of the ETFs currently in our database:

Year of InceptionCount
19931
19951
199617
199810
19991
200045
200122
20026
200310
200432
200542
2006115
2007161
200874
200983
2010103
201199
201288
201399
2014109
2015143
2016142
2017184
2018219
2019229
2020314
2021129
Total2,478

Note that there were actually even more ETFs launched then this table shows, as we are only displaying the launch dates of ETFs still active in our database. There were hundreds of more ETFs that were launched during these years that have since been closed down by their sponsor.

The Industry Is Dominated By Large ETFs

The top 100 largest ETFs account for 72% of all ETF trading volume. And there are lots of small ETFs with low trading volumes:

ETFsETNsTotal
Total2,405732,478
Trading volume below 10,000 shares a day81641857
Percentage33.93%56.16%34.58%

Passive versus Active Management

Most ETFs are "passively managed" - i.e. they follow an index developed by one of the 40+ index providers. An actively managed ETF is an ETF that does not follow an index. Instead, the fund's portfolio manager judgmentally decides what assets to buy and sell. Our database contains 417 actively managed ETFs:

CategoryCount
Alternatives36
Asset Allocation36
Commodities17
Global Equity54
Global Fixed Income 6
Special Security Types12
US Equity134
US Fixed Income 122
Total417

Most actively managed ETFs are fairly new:

Year of InceptionCount
20072
20083
20093
20104
20114
20129
201313
201429
201512
201630
201749
201859
201954
2020114
202132
Total417

Actively managed ETFs tend to have higher fees. Average fees per our database:

Actively managedCategoryETF CountAverage Expense Ratio
No20.00%
NoAlternatives1420.36%
YesAlternatives360.95%
NoAsset Allocation290.63%
YesAsset Allocation360.86%
NoCommodities930.77%
YesCommodities170.54%
NoGlobal Equity 6230.53%
YesGlobal Equity540.65%
NoGlobal Fixed Income210.35%
YesGlobal Fixed Income 60.53%
NoSpecial Security Types411.20%
YesSpecial Security Types121.67%
NoUS Equity 7700.44%
YesUS Equity1340.60%
NoUS Fixed Income 2680.25%
YesUS Fixed Income 1220.45%

Leveraged ETFs Are Very Popular

One reason for the growth of the ETF industry is that ETFs make it easy to invest using leverage. As of today, there are 99 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these leveraged ETFs is 175,268,462 shares.

Leveraged ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
1.231
1.251
2.0057
3.0040
Total99

Inverse or Short ETFs Are Also Popular

Another reason for the growth of the ETF industry is that ETFs make it easy to "go short" by buying an inverse ETF. As of today, there are 89 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these inverse ETFs is 190,118,846 shares.

Inverse ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
-3.0022
-2.0040
-1.0027
Total89

Smart beta has become trendy

There are 610 smart beta ETFs in our database, out of the 1,391 equity ETFs that track indexes, or 44%. Here is a breakout of how many factors the smart beta ETFs are using:

Factors UsedNumber of ETFs%
078156.15%
129020.85%
21228.77%
31057.55%
4835.97%
580.58%
610.07%
710.07%
Total1,391

The industry continues to launch smart beta ETFs:

Year of InceptionCount
200016
20013
20033
200414
200526
200646
200736
20085
20096
201023
201124
201229
201333
201434
201565
201673
201760
201835
201935
202037
20217
Total610

Despite the number of newly launched smart beta ETFs, smart beta ETFs have not yet captured a huge market share. ETFs that track passive indexes continue to dominate trading volumes:

Number of factorsAverage VolumePercentage
0936,339,96491.32%
149,536,8704.83%
215,999,7261.56%
314,207,3261.39%
48,995,1210.88%
5193,6390.02%
62340.00%
712,6690.00%
Total1,025,285,549100%


All data is a live query from our database. The wording was last updated: 11/20/2017.

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