As the exchange traded fund universe expands, first mover advantage, low fees and branding have contributed to the success of various fund providers.
The ETF industry is dominated by a group of money managers that have enjoyed a first-mover advantage. BlackRock’s iShares holds 40% of ETP assets and offers almost 300 products, writes Credit Suisse analyst Victor Lin in a research note.
State Street Global Advisors is the second largest ETF provider. The manager launched the first ETF, SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY); the first commodity ETF, SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD); and the first sector ETFs.
PowerShares has also experienced a first mover advantage in other major categories. The fund sponsor was the first to launch commodity ETFs outside of precious metals and the first to come out with the highly popular low-volatility strategy.
While these companies have capitalized on the first mover advantage, this is not guaranteed.
“First movers risk that the market may not be ready for a particular type of product,” Lin said.
For instance, the first actively managed ETFs to hit the market in 2008 did not immediately usher in a new active ETF boom.
More recently, the so-called fee war has fueled growing interest for cheaper strategies. For example, Vanguard has become known for its low-cost fund products, and now the firm is the fastest growing ETP issuer.