Here are the Most-Searched ETFs

March 3rd at 7:08am by Tom Lydon

When it comes to exchange traded funds, different types of investors have different goals. For instance, institutional investors have been looking at broad equities while individual investors and advisors leaned toward income and mitigating risk.

According to a list of the most researched investments on Morningstar‘s platform, about half of the most popular ETFs among institutional investors covered domestic and international equities over 2012. Specifically, institutional investors were mostly browsing large-cap equity strategies.

Meanwhile, advisors and individuals focused on income and risk mitigation over 2012. Individual investors sought income to boost their portfolios, while advisors were interested in inflation-hedging and emerging market ETFs.

“Individual investors and financial advisors have been focused on producing income and avoiding risk for the last four years,“ Paul Justice, director of fund research for Morningstar, said in the report. “While their risk aversion is high, they seem to be making an exception for emerging market equities, which illustrates that whatever risk appetite remains is focused overseas.”

The top four most researched ETFs by individual investors, along with six of the top 10, were Vanguard products. Advisors and institutional investors, though, favored iShares products.

The PIMCO Total Return Fund also earned a top spot on the lists for all investor types.

The top ETFs of 2012 for individual investors include:

  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG)
  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index ETF (NYSEArca: VYM)
  • Vanguard REIT Index ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ)
  • Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • SPDR S&P Dividend (NYSEArca: SDY)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (NYSEArca: AMLP)
  • Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSEArca: VDE)
  • Vanguard Health Care ETF (NYSEArca: VHT)
  • WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income ETF (NYSEArca: DEM)

Top ETFs financial advisors looked at include:

  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (NYSEArca: TIP)
  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG)
  • Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • iShares SP U.S Preferred Stock Index (NYSEArca: PFF)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NYSEArca: EEM)
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (NYSEArca: EFA)
  • SPDR SP 500 (NYSEArca: SPY)
  • Vanguard REIT Index ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ)
  • iShares iBoxx $ Invest Grade Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: LQD)

Lastly, the top ETFs institutional investors browsed include:

  • SPDR SP 500 (NYSEArca: SPY)
  • Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (NYSEArca: EFA)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NYSEArca: EEM)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (NYSEArca: TIP)
  • iShares Russell 2000 Index (NYSEArca: IWM)
  • iShares Barclays Core Total U.S Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: AGG)
  • iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: HYG)
  • iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index (NYSEArca: IWF)

For more information on ETF asset flows, visit our ETF performance reports category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.