As industry observers well know, the exchange traded funds business is top heavy with three players –BlackRock’s (NSYE: BLK) iShares, State Street’s (NYSE: STT) State Street Global Advisors and Vanguard – combining to hold a massive percentage of assets allocated to U.S.-listed ETFs.

That does not mean there is not there is not room for multiple, credible, up-and-coming ETF issuers to make their mark. Continued asset growth proves investors, both professional and retail, are embracing ETF offerings from more than just the “Big Three.” That includes Northern Trust’s (NasdaqGS: NTRS) FlexShares unit.

FlexShares had over $8.4 billion in ETF assets under management as of Oct. 7, making it a top-15 ETF issuer in the U.S. That is up from $1 billion in September 2012. Big drivers of FlexShares’ growth are four of the firm’s earliest offerings, which recently celebrated their third anniversary. [The Rise of FlexShares ETFs]

That includes the FlexShares Morningstar Global Upstream Natural Resource Index Fund (NYSEArca: GUNR). GUNR turned three in mid-September and it has been a banner run for the ETF in terms of asset-gathering.

GUNR tries to reflect the performance of the Morningstar Global Upstream Natural Resource Index, which holds companies that have upstream operations in agriculture, energy, metals, timber and water. Now nearly a $2.9 billion ETF, GUNR has added $283 million in new assets this year.

The FlexShares Morningstar U.S. Market Factor Tilt Index ETF (NYSEArca: TILT) debuted on the same day as GUNR, making TILT a relatively early entry into the now booming world of factor-based ETFs.

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