The actively managed exchange traded fund(ETF) has had a difficult time gaining traction, but this has not kept providers from expanding on this idea. After all, we’ve been in challenged markets for some time now.

Actively managed ETFs haven’t grabbed assets as quickly as some might have expected, but it’s not slowing down the development of them any.

The slowness can likely be attributed to the global recession, which saw many investors steering clear of investments of many types, whether it was active management or the more traditional passive ETFs. And many investors may also be eying them and watching their performance before making a decision about whether to dive in.

The first purely actively managed ETF came from Grail Advisors this month, which is managed by three veteran mutual fund and institutional subadvisors. There are even more actively managed funds awaiting approval in the pipeline.

The very definition of what active management is rests upon whom you ask, says Daisy Maxey for The Wall Street Journal. Quantitative/active funds generally expand in some way on traditional benchmark indexing. There are currently 62 quantitative/active ETFs with $2.67 billion in assets, according to Morningstar. These include such funds as Powershares‘ Dynamic Market portfolios, and First Trust‘s AlphaDEX family.

Others rely on managers to choose holdings, and the first of these types of funds were launched last year. These include PowerShares Active Low Duration (PLK) and PowerShares Active U.S. Real Estate (PSR).

The major hurdle that active management with ETFs faces is the daily disclosure of holdings. Stock pickers like to keep holdings confidential in an effort to prevent copycats, however, providers are working on this concern.

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.

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