ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The second-largest exchange traded fund provider State Street (NYSE: STT) reported quarterly results this week and the company’s earnings were boosted by growth in the ETF business.

Boston-based State Street on Tuesday said its third-quarter profit rose from the year-ago period.

“We also continue to have success in our ETF product line … representing positive flows [of $13 billion]into ETFs during the quarter — mainly into our larger ETF funds such as SPDRs, gold, and fixed income,” said Joseph Hooley, State Street CEO, during the conference call.

“But also of note is the success we’ve experienced in the 54 newer, more complex ETF products we introduced over the past 18 months,” he added.

Rival BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) announced ETF fee cuts this week after Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) recently unveiled lower expense ratios at its ETF lineup. Vanguard has also switched indices at several ETFs, which will allow it to slash costs. [BlackRock Hits Back at Vanguard, Schwab with iShares ETF Fee Cuts]

“I think underpinning the BlackRock and the Vanguard statements have been an industry that’s growing pretty rapidly and has a pretty attractive growth rate,” State Street’s Hooley said.

The CEO noted State Street’s ETF inflows have been driven by positioning in the “commoditized end of the ETF space” such as SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY).

“So, we think the strategy should be to compete in the commoditized area. And in the newer area, which tend to have higher revenues, more innovation, that’s where we’re putting a lot of our focus from a standpoint of investment,” Hooley said.

The so-called fee war in ETFs has been centered in “core” funds that track large chunks of the equity and bond markets. In these ETFs, fees are usually the most important factor for buy and hold investors and advisors when selecting individual funds.

For example, this week BlackRock created the new iShares Core Series targeting long-term investors. The move allows BlackRock to cut fees at its core ETFs while keeping expense ratios at more specialized funds unchanged.

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, 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.