Asset inflows into global exchange-traded funds and exchange-traded products hit an all-time high at the end of Q3 2012, with a total of $188 billion generated so far this year - $18 billion more than last year's previous record-setting number.
London, England-based research and consulting firm ETFGI LLP has run the numbers and says that total assets in worldwide ETFs and ETPs reached $1.86 trillion at the end of Q3, even higher than August 2012's record $1.76 trillion.
Year-to-date assets are up 21.7 percent, from a $1.53 trillion start. ETFGI's recordkeeping follows 4,690 ETFs and ETPs, with 9,626 listings from 204 providers on 56 exchanges.
Three providers continue to hold almost 70 percent of global assets: iShares is No. 1, with a 38.3 percent share, SPDR ETFs is second with 18.0 percent and Vanguard follows with 12.4 percent.
And it's still largely a United States-centered phenomenon, with the U.S. accounting for 70.1 percent of global assets, followed by Europe (18.8 percent) and Asia Pacific, excluding Japan (3.9 percent). Overall growth has exceeded 25 percent over the past decade.
"ETF competition is about getting the product mix and the ETF ecosystem right, and not just low costs," said ETFGI's Deborah Fuhr. "We will see some movement in the relative size of the industry heavyweights, and while benchmark, performance, trading, liquidity and product structure will continue to be key considerations, costs from the U.S. will be an increasingly important component."
The top three firms based are also winning the net new asset race, adding up to 65.0 percent of all of NNAs, with iShares accounting for 26.7 percent, Vanguard 22.8 percent and SPDR ETFs 15.5 percent.
The top three providers also collectively captured 75.2 percent of September’s average daily trading volume. SPDR ETFs has the largest share with 42.4 percent, iShares is second with 28.3 percent, followed by ProShares with 4.5 percent.
Benchmarks are an important factor in the selection process when comparing ETFs and ETPs to implement exposure to a desired market segment or asset class. The top three index providers account for 54.5 percent of global assets.
S&P Dow Jones tracks the largest number of ETFs/ETPs benchmarks with 1,028 products and 25.5 percent of assets; MSCI follows with 569 products and 19.7 percent of assets, followed by Barclays Capital with 178 products and 9.3 percent of assets. Over 100 other index providers split the remaining 45.5 percent of assets.
Year-to-date through Q3 2012 Equity ETFs and ETPs have gathered the largest net inflows, accounting for $111 billion, followed by fixed income ETFs and ETPs ($50 billion) and commodity ETFs and ETPs ($17 billion).
Equity focused ETFs and ETPs have gathered $111 billion YTD, $20 billion more than the NNA flows they received in all of 2011. Products providing exposure to the United States/North American equities have gained $63 billion, followed by emerging market equity ($28 billion) and Asia Pacific equity ($7 billion).
Fixed Income ETFs and ETPs have also proven to be very popular this year, with $50 billion in NNAs, $4 billion more than the total new assets they received last year.
Within the fixed income universe corporate bond products have gathered the $20 billion in net inflows, followed by high yield products ($14 billion). Emerging market and broad/aggregate bond exposures each captured just over $5 billion.
Commodity flows ($17 billion) are nearly $2 billion more than all of 2011' NNAs. Precious metals have gathered the largest net inflows ($15 billion), followed by broad commodity products ($2 billion).