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 2,617 exchange traded products:

CategoryCount
164
Alternatives197
Asset Allocation66
Commodities111
Global Equity678
Global Fixed Income26
Special Security Types52
US Equity928
US Fixed Income 395
Total2,617

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

ETP TypeCount
ETF2,548
ETN69
Total2,617

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
167
Actively managed445
Buys and sells commodity futures on a set pattern11
Follows a set investment pattern4
Other114
Passively tracks an index1,850
Physically owns a precious metal14
Tracks price of currency exchange rates12
Total2,617

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
200423
200542
2006114
2007161
200874
200983
2010103
201194
201288
201399
2014107
2015142
2016138
2017181
2018216
2019226
2020310
2021303
Total2,617

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 74% of all ETF trading volume. And there are lots of small ETFs with low trading volumes:

ETFsETNsTotal
Total2,548692,617
Trading volume below 10,000 shares a day1,012381,050
Percentage39.72%55.07%40.12%

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 445 actively managed ETFs:

CategoryCount
Alternatives38
Asset Allocation38
Commodities17
Global Equity56
Global Fixed Income 6
Special Security Types13
US Equity150
US Fixed Income 127
Total445

Most actively managed ETFs are fairly new:

Year of InceptionCount
20072
20083
20093
20104
20114
20129
201313
201428
201512
201629
201749
201859
201952
2020114
202164
Total445

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

Actively managedCategoryETF CountAverage Expense Ratio
No10.00%
NoAlternatives1430.35%
YesAlternatives380.97%
NoAsset Allocation280.62%
YesAsset Allocation380.87%
NoCommodities940.76%
YesCommodities170.54%
NoGlobal Equity 6220.54%
YesGlobal Equity560.63%
NoGlobal Fixed Income200.34%
YesGlobal Fixed Income 60.53%
NoSpecial Security Types391.22%
YesSpecial Security Types131.61%
NoUS Equity 7780.43%
YesUS Equity1500.59%
NoUS Fixed Income2680.24%
YesUS Fixed Income 1270.46%

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 98 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these leveraged ETFs is 134,114,207 shares.

Leveraged ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
1.231
1.251
2.0057
3.0039
Total98

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 88 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these inverse ETFs is 213,700,371 shares.

Inverse ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
-3.0022
-2.0040
-1.0026
Total88

Smart beta has become trendy

There are 611 smart beta ETFs in our database, out of the 1,395 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%
078456.20%
129020.79%
21238.82%
31087.74%
4805.73%
580.57%
610.07%
710.07%
Total1,395

The industry continues to launch smart beta ETFs:

Year of InceptionCount
200016
20013
20033
20045
200526
200646
200736
20085
20096
201023
201124
201229
201333
201434
201565
201672
201759
201835
201935
202034
202122
Total611

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
0962,989,87093.37%
136,781,9923.57%
213,243,9101.28%
311,601,6801.12%
46,514,9300.63%
5209,6470.02%
61190.00%
79,0000.00%
Total1,031,351,148100%


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

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