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 2,340 exchange traded products:

CategoryCount
17
Alternatives147
Asset Allocation59
Commodities124
Global Equity670
Global Fixed Income28
Special Security Types56
US Equity865
US Fixed Income 374
Total2,340

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

ETP TypeCount
ETF2,233
ETN107
Total2,340

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
17
Actively managed343
Buys and sells commodity futures on a set pattern11
Follows a set investment pattern3
Other68
Passively tracks an index1,873
Physically owns a precious metal13
Tracks price of currency exchange rates12
Total2,340

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
200311
200432
200542
2006115
2007161
200881
200984
2010105
2011106
201294
2013102
2014123
2015150
2016149
2017197
2018229
2019258
2020198
Total2,340

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 77% of all ETF trading volume. And there are lots of small ETFs with low trading volumes:

ETFsETNsTotal
Total2,2331072,340
Trading volume below 10,000 shares a day80075875
Percentage35.83%70.09%37.39%

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 343 actively managed ETFs:

CategoryCount
Alternatives29
Asset Allocation32
Commodities16
Global Equity43
Global Fixed Income 7
Special Security Types8
US Equity100
US Fixed Income 108
Total343

Most actively managed ETFs are fairly new:

Year of InceptionCount
20072
20083
20093
20104
20114
20129
201313
201433
201513
201632
201750
201859
201958
202060
Total343

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

Actively managedCategoryETF CountAverage Expense Ratio
No10.00%
NoAlternatives1020.49%
YesAlternatives290.93%
NoAsset Allocation270.60%
YesAsset Allocation320.80%
NoCommodities1080.83%
YesCommodities160.52%
NoGlobal Equity 6270.54%
YesGlobal Equity430.66%
NoGlobal Fixed Income210.35%
YesGlobal Fixed Income 70.54%
NoSpecial Security Types481.16%
YesSpecial Security Types81.89%
NoUS Equity 7650.45%
YesUS Equity1000.60%
NoUS Fixed Income2660.25%
YesUS Fixed Income 1080.47%

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 123 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these leveraged ETFs is 185,537,491 shares.

Leveraged ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
1.231
1.256
2.0062
3.0044
4.0010
Total123

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 98 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these inverse ETFs is 345,691,274 shares.

Inverse ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
-3.0025
-2.0042
-1.0031
Total98

Smart beta has become trendy

There are 606 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%
078556.43%
128020.13%
21238.84%
31077.69%
4876.25%
570.50%
610.07%
710.07%
Total1,391

The industry continues to launch smart beta ETFs:

Year of InceptionCount
200016
20013
20034
200414
200526
200646
200736
20085
20096
201023
201127
201233
201333
201435
201569
201673
201760
201836
201937
202024
Total606

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
01,251,031,19193.20%
146,323,5673.45%
215,387,0571.15%
314,978,0451.12%
414,434,5511.08%
5169,8720.01%
67640.00%
710,1250.00%
Total1,342,335,172100%


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

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