ETF Trends
ETF Trends

There are more than 1,600 exchange traded products with nearly $1.9 trillion in combined assets under management trading in the U.S., but investors do not think that is too many ETFs. In fact, they want more, according to the 2014 ETF Investor Study by Charles Schwab.

The 2014 ETF Investor Study by Charles Schwab is the fourth installment of an annual online survey of more than 1,000 individual investors between the ages of 25-75 with at least $25,000 in investable assets who have purchased ETFs in the past two years or are considering doing so in the near term.

Of those surveyed, 66% say there is room for more ETFs to come to market while 20% say at least a quarter of their portfolios are devoted to ETFs, according to a statement released by Schwab.

ETF issuers seem to agree with investors that there is ample room for more new products. Just this month, State Street’s (NYSE: STT) State Street Global Advisors, the second-largest U.S. ETF issuer, has introduced 10 ETFs, including several with an emphasis on the quality factor. [A Look at SSgA’s New Factor ETFs]

Last week, J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) introduced its first ETF, the JPMorgan Diversified Return Global Equity ETF (NYSEArca: JPGE). BlackRock’s (NYSE: BLK) iShares, the world’s largest ETF issuer, doubled the size of its core lineup, which included the addition of four new ETFs. [J.P. Morgan’s ETF Debut]

With the rapid proliferation of new ETFs comes increased need for education on these new offerings, many of which are increasingly sophisticated.

Schwab’s “study found that seven out of ten investors say they are confident in their ability to choose an ETF that is right for their investment objectives. Yet, even as investors are embracing choice, a surprising 38 percent of investors say they want a better understanding of how to choose an ETF. Thirty-nine percent would like to better understand how to best use ETFs in their portfolio,” according to the statement.

Much to the chagrin of those that spend too much time assailing the terminology and not enough time studying performance, investor interest in alternatively weighted or smart beta ETFs is increasing.

The Schwab study indicates 39% of investors surveyed want to learn more about smart beta ETFs and of that group, “three quarters want a better understanding of the differences between smart beta strategies and nearly eight in ten want to know how to best use them in their portfolios.”

That jibes with other recently revealed data points on alternatively-weighted ETFs.

Among institutional decision makers, 53% expect to increase smart-beta ETF allocations over the next three years while 46% of non-users play to explore the idea of smart-beta ETFs in their portfolios. Financial advisors have a similar mindset with nearly two-thirds planning to increase their smart beta allocations this, according to a recent survey by ETF Trends and RIA Database. [Institutional Investors Warming to Smart Beta ETFs]

In another point that is sure to ruffle the feathers of mutual fund traditionalists, investors, a lot of them in fact, want access to ETFs in their 401(k) plans. Three out of five investors want ETFs in their 401(k) plans with 37% saying they believe ETFs would give them “the ability to invest in market segments that are more accessible than mutual funds,” according to the Schwab study.

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