At the sector level, apparently fees are not the most important thing to advisors and investors. State Street’s nine sector SPDRs have seen compound annual growth of 30% in the past three years despite being slightly more expensive than equivalent Vanguard offerings. Only one Vanguard sector ETF, the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (NYSEArca: VGT) ranks among the 100 largest ETFs but all nine SPDRs are on that list. [SPDRs Flourish in the Face of Rising Competition]

BlackRock is also not taking the competition lightly. Last year, the firm introduced the core series of ETFs, a suite of 10 ETFs with lower fees designed for cost-conscious, conservative investors. The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: IEMG) has the same annual fees as the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) at 0.18%, but IEMG has outpaced VWO this year.

A similar scenario is seen with Europe ETFs. The Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK) is the largest Europe ETF and it is cheaper than the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (NYSEArca: FEZ) by 17 basis points. However, FEZ outperformed VGK by 260 basis points for the 12-month period ending Dec. 3. [Settling the Europe ETF Debate]

Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF