The U.S. exchange traded fund market is the largest and fastest-growing in the world, though new research from Cerulli Associates suggests the low-cost investment options are on the cusp of new growth in Europe and other regions of the globe. 

The U.S. ETF market holds about $1.8 trillion – more than three times that of Europe's ETF market. But only 32.5 percent of the massive U.S. market (about $4.5 billion) is owned by institutional investors, such as sponsors of defined benefit and defined contribution plans. 

Cerulli's research indicates that may be quickly changing, as institutional investors warm to their value and their ability to broadly diversify assets. 

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.