There are more than 1,300 exchange traded funds and counting, which can make researching and choosing ETFs a challenging exercise. There are nearly 45 providers of ETFs, as well.
However, Boston-based State Street Global Advisors started it all when the firm listed the first U.S. ETF in 1993 — SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY). The fund currently holds assets of $84 billion.
State Street overseas a broad array of SPDR ETFs. The provider has about $266 billion in assets under management, and 101 ETF products to choose from.
The firm used SPY as a launching point for more ETFs, explains Dan Caplinger for The Motley Fool. Next came the Diamonds, or the SPDR Dow Jones Industrials ETF (NYSEArca: DIA), which holds about $9.3 billion. It tracks the venerable Dow index. [Global Stocks ETFs Rally on Euro Hopes]
Soon after, sector ETFs were developed, which allowed investors access to several companies within a sector such as telecom or energy, in one trading tool.