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 2,914 exchange traded products:

CategoryCount
233
Alternatives226
Asset Allocation78
Commodities121
Global Equity721
Global Fixed Income27
Special Security Types57
US Equity1014
US Fixed Income 437
Total2,914

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

ETP TypeCount
2
ETF2,823
ETN89
Total2,914

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
242
Actively managed590
Buys and sells commodity futures on a set pattern12
Follows a set investment pattern4
Other131
Passively tracks an index1,911
Physically owns a precious metal14
Tracks price of currency exchange rates10
Total2,914

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

Year of InceptionCount
19801
19931
19951
199617
199810
19991
200046
200122
20026
200310
200423
200542
2006111
2007159
200873
200981
2010101
201191
201284
201397
2014101
2015139
2016130
2017177
2018199
2019223
2020300
2021488
2022180
Total2,914

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
Total2,823892,912
Trading volume below 10,000 shares a day93947986
Percentage33.26%52.81%33.86%

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 590 actively managed ETFs:

CategoryCount
Alternatives49
Asset Allocation49
Commodities21
Global Equity84
Global Fixed Income7
Special Security Types13
US Equity203
US Fixed Income 164
Total590

Most actively managed ETFs are fairly new:

Year of InceptionCount
19801
20001
20071
20083
20093
20104
20113
20129
201313
201426
201512
201626
201749
201855
201952
2020107
2021196
202229
Total590

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

Actively managedCategoryETF CountAverage Expense Ratio
No90.00%
NoAlternatives1610.32%
YesAlternatives490.88%
NoAsset Allocation290.62%
YesAsset Allocation490.75%
NoCommodities1000.72%
YesCommodities210.60%
NoGlobal Equity 6370.54%
YesGlobal Equity840.63%
NoGlobal Fixed Income200.35%
YesGlobal Fixed Income70.50%
NoSpecial Security Types441.18%
YesSpecial Security Types131.47%
NoUS Equity 8110.43%
YesUS Equity2030.59%
NoUS Fixed Income2730.25%
YesUS Fixed Income 1640.45%

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 122 leveraged ETFs. To give you some feel for how popular they are, the total average daily trading volume of these leveraged ETFs is 569,075,111 shares.

Leveraged ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
1.231
1.251
1.504
2.0075
3.0041
Total122

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 512,144,941 shares.

Inverse ETFs apply different amounts of leverage:

Leverage factorNumber of ETFs
-3.0025
-2.0040
-1.0024
Total89

Smart beta has become trendy

There are 618 smart beta ETFs in our database, out of the 1,431 equity ETFs that track indexes, or 43%. Here is a breakout of how many factors the smart beta ETFs are using:

Factors UsedNumber of ETFs%
081356.81%
129820.82%
21228.53%
31087.55%
4795.52%
590.63%
610.07%
710.07%
Total1,431

The industry continues to launch smart beta ETFs:

Year of InceptionCount
200016
20013
20033
20045
200526
200643
200736
20085
20096
201023
201124
201228
201333
201432
201564
201670
201756
201834
201934
202032
202140
20225
Total618

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
02,276,787,24092.57%
199,781,9154.06%
230,317,9391.23%
330,635,5971.25%
421,938,4250.89%
5188,6900.01%
63790.00%
74,8340.00%
Total2,459,655,019100%


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

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