Institutional investors are increasing their adoption of alternatively weighted or factor-based exchange traded funds, according to a new survey by Russell Investments.

The survey, entitled Smart Beta: A Deeper Look at Asset Owner Perceptions, confirms that asset owners in North America and Europe are actively using smart beta indexes in strategic and tactical ways to pursue a variety of investment outcomes, according to the index provider.

Data confirm the rising popularity of smart beta or intelligent index ETFs. There were 335 such ETFs with nearly $300 billion in combined assets under management at the end of 2013. Smart beta ETFs “contributed a record $65.1bn of inflows in 2013 led by dividend-weighted funds, and nearly doubled the $34.2bn from last year,” said BlackRock. [Inflows to Smart Beta ETFs Continue]

Of institutional investors surveyed by Russell with more than $100 billion in assets, 88% “have evaluated smart beta or plan to do so in the next 18 months; 77% of respondents with assets between $1 billion and $10 billion, and 50% of those with assets under $1 billion responded similarly,” said Russell.

The survey shows nearly a third of professional money managers already have allocations to smart beta products and more than half of those managers plan to boost smart beta exposure over the next 18 months.

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