ETF Manager Profile: First Trust | ETF Trends

The exchange traded fund business is dominated by the “Big Three” of BlackRock’s iShares, State Street and Vanguard in terms of assets under management.

However, many smaller firms are carving out a successful niche with specialized ETFs or by focusing on overlooked markets.

First Trust is one of the smaller firms that offers ETFs off the beaten path.

Below is a brief profile of the investment manager, based on data it recently released:


  • Net First Trust flows in February totaled more than $469 million, leaving total First Trust ETF assets under management at $6.66 billion.
  • First Trust Materials AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXZ) was the top fund in creations in February with $50m in creations.
  • First Trust Dow Jones Global Select Dividend Index Fund(NYSEArca: FGD) took the top spot for percentage increase in assets with an increase of +46.7%.  The fund began the month at $65 million and ended the month at $97 million.  Creations accounted for $30 million.
  • Net First Trust creation activity year-to-date is $933 million. 


  • With $6.7 billion, First Trust moved into 10th place in terms of total exchange traded product assets under management , crossing past Direxion.  First Trust is less than $1 billion behind the next largest peer, Rydex with $7.6 billion. [ETF Assets Riding On Momentum]
  • First Trust’s market share increased during February, from 0.59% to 0.63% as measured by total assets under management.


  • The average return of First Trust ETFs during the month of February was +3.5% (unweighted), outperforming the average peer return of +3.2%.  The S&P 500 returned 3.4% during the month of February.
  • AlphaDEX had a strong month in terms of excess returns.  The average excess return among AlphaDEX funds in February was +0.8%.
  • First Trust Financials AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FXO) is the best performer in terms of excess return over the three year time period.  This is an example of fundamental weighting outperforming market cap weighting.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Lydon serves as an independent trustee of certain mutual funds and ETFs that are managed by Guggenheim Investments; however, any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Mr. Lydon and not those of Guggenheim Funds, Guggenheim Investments, Guggenheim Specialized Products, LLC or any of their affiliates. 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.