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 2,323 exchange traded products:

CategoryCount
17
Alternatives135
Asset Allocation55
Commodities130
Global Equity679
Global Fixed Income28
Special Security Types57
US Equity853
US Fixed Income 369
Total2,323

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

ETP TypeCount
ETF2,199
ETN124
Total2,323

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
25
Actively managed322
Buys and sells commodity futures on a set pattern11
Follows a set investment pattern3
Other49
Passively tracks an index1,888
Physically owns a precious metal13
Tracks price of currency exchange rates12
Total2,323

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
2007164
200881
200984
2010114
2011113
201296
2013102
2014126
2015162
2016152
2017203
2018233
2019258
2020132
Total2,323

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 76% of all ETF trading volume. And there are lots of small ETFs with low trading volumes:

ETFsETNsTotal
Total2,1991242,323
Trading volume below 10,000 shares a day74779826
Percentage33.97%63.71%35.56%

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 322 actively managed ETFs:

CategoryCount
Alternatives25
Asset Allocation31
Commodities15
Global Equity42
Global Fixed Income 7
Special Security Types8
US Equity89
US Fixed Income 105
Total322

Most actively managed ETFs are fairly new:

Year of InceptionCount
20072
20083
20093
20104
20114
20129
201313
201433
201513
201632
201751
201859
201958
202038
Total322

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

Actively managedCategoryETF CountAverage Expense Ratio
No20.00%
NoAlternatives940.57%
YesAlternatives251.01%
NoAsset Allocation240.66%
YesAsset Allocation310.83%
NoCommodities1150.87%
YesCommodities150.53%
NoGlobal Equity 6370.53%
YesGlobal Equity420.66%
NoGlobal Fixed Income210.35%
YesGlobal Fixed Income 70.54%
NoSpecial Security Types491.16%
YesSpecial Security Types81.89%
NoUS Equity 7640.45%
YesUS Equity890.60%
NoUS Fixed Income2640.26%
YesUS Fixed Income 1050.46%

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 128 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these leveraged ETFs is 226,670,344 shares.

Leveraged ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
1.231
1.256
2.0059
3.0052
4.0010
Total128

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 103 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these inverse ETFs is 373,524,429 shares.

Inverse ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
-3.0031
-2.0039
-1.0033
Total103

Smart beta has become trendy

There are 609 smart beta ETFs in our database, out of the 1,398 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%
078956.44%
127419.60%
21269.01%
31097.80%
4916.51%
570.50%
610.07%
710.07%
Total1,398

The industry continues to launch smart beta ETFs:

Year of InceptionCount
200016
20013
20034
200414
200526
200646
200736
20085
20096
201023
201127
201233
201333
201437
201573
201675
201764
201838
201937
202013
Total609

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
01,441,815,38992.40%
155,181,7993.54%
219,630,8261.26%
317,407,1491.12%
426,253,0571.68%
5140,8220.01%
61,1430.00%
715,4910.00%
Total1,560,445,676100%


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

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