Active ETFs Help Drive First Trust’s Growth

First Trust is the sixth-largest U.S. issuer of exchange traded funds and the Illinois-based firm’s growth trajectory has not gone unnoticed.

The firm had $33.2 billion in ETF assets under management as of Dec. 22, up from $27.8 billion at the end of the second quarter. At the end of the last year, First Trust was “just” the ninth-largest ETF issuer with “just” $19.7 billion in assets. [AlphaDEX ETFs Drive First Trust Growth]

Industry observers know a major catalyst for First Trust’s growth has been the movement toward smart beta ETFs, one that benefits the firm and its expansive lineup of AlphaDEX ETFs. AlphaDEX funds are based “on growth factors including three, six and 12-month price appreciation, sales to price and one year sales growth, and, separately, on value factors including book value to price, cash flow to price and return on assets,” according to First Trust.

As of late August, assets under managements across smart beta ETFs totaled $350 billion, a 30% year-over-year increase, and that is good news for First Trust. [U.S. ETFs Hit $2 Trillion in Assets]

However, the company is a also a leading player in the growing actively managed ETF market.

“First Trust grew its (actively managed ETF) market share by 5% and beat out 22 other active ETF sponsors in net flow for November. Pimco had $6.65 billion in active ETF assets at the end of November, or 36% of the industry total. First Trust, with $3.3 billion, had 18%,” reports Aparna Narayanan for Investor’s Business Daily, citing AdvisorShares data.

First Trust now offers 14 actively managed ETFs, several of which have been important drivers of the firm’s growth in the actively managed arena.