The analysts attribute the growth in assets to global central bank actions, specifically low interest rates that drove investors to alternative income and riskier assets.
Asset categories that drew the largest inflows over 2012 include U.S. fixed income, high yield fixed income, other fixed income, emerging markets fixed income and U.S. municipal bond fixed income. In contrast, U.S. equities and other global equities saw the largest outflows.
“The search for yield pushed investors into high-yield bonds and emerging-markets bonds, categories traditionally seen as riskier,” Morningstar said. “Both high-yield and emerging-markets bonds saw record inflows.”
Investors favored Vanguard, PIMCO and iShares ETF products, which accounted for 61% of net flows over 2012. Vanguard added $1.8 billion, PIMCO saw $573 million in inflows and iShares added $556 million.
For more information on ETF asset flows, visit our ETF performance reports category.
Max Chen contributed to this article.