With shares of Golman Sachs (NYSE: GS), the venerable Wall Street bank, flirting with $170, some investors may opt to access the stock via an exchange traded fund such as the iShares US Broker-Dealers ETF (NYSEArca: IAI).

This year, that has proven to be an efficacious strategy as shares of Goldman Sachs, one of the newest additions to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, are lower by nearly 6% while IAI is up almost 3.1%. Strength in IAI is nothing. It was last year’s top-performing financial services ETF with a gain of 65.7% and investors are taking notice. [Meet 2013’s Best Financial Services ETF]

The ETF had $209.1 million in assets under management as of Dec. 19, 2013, nearly double its total on June 10, 2013. That number is now up to $265.1 million.

Although Goldman, 7.3% of IAI’s weight and the ETF’s largest holding, has not chipped in any upside for the fund this year, IAI has found help in other areas. Shares of Goldman rival Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), IAI’s second-largest holding at almost 7.2%, are up 5.1%. Morgan Stanley is among the banks expected to receive permission from the Federal Reserve this week to boost its dividend. [ETFs for Rising Bank Dividends]

Discount brokers are also contributing to IAI’s upside in significant fashion. Helped in part by its growing presence in the ETF industry, Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) has surged 10.5% this year. TD Ameritrade (NasdaqGS: AMTD) has soared over 16%. E*Trade (NasdaqGS: ETFC) may be retiring the ubiquitous baby in its commercials, but its shares are up 25.5% year-to-date.

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