Closing in on $2 trillion in assets, the U.S.-listed exchange traded fund industry is too big to ignore. Still, contrary to what some may believe, the ETFs are not responsible for broad market moves as growth in assets have come at the expense of mutual funds.

There are currently 1,658 U.S.-listed exchange traded products, which include both exchange traded notes and ETFs, on the market, with $1.987 trillion in assets under management, according to XTF data. However, ETFs do not wag the market. [ETFGI: Global ETFs, ETPs add $199B in Q3]

Fund industry asset flows reveal that ETFs are not responsible for pushing the U.S. stocks to new highs but act as a substitute good to traditional mutual funds, according to Nicholas Colas for ConvergEx.

“In part they are ‘Substitute goods’ to mutual funds, offering similar investment exposures with lower costs,” Colas said in the article. “In part they are novel investment products, where the same ETF can be a hedge at a billion dollar hedge fund and a core position in a civil servant’s IRA.  They have soaked up a large part – but not all – of the decline in U.S. equity mutual fund assets over the last half decade.  And they have added modestly to the demand for fixed income investments, but mutual funds are the real driving force there.”

Over the last five years, U.S. stock mutual funds have seen $411.1 billion in outflows. Meanwhile, U.S. equity ETFs pulled in $301.5 billion. The flows indicate that as mutual fund investors pull away from traditional funds, most are putting the money right back into low-cost ETFs.

On the fixed-income side, ETF flows still fall short of mutual funds. Over the past five years, bond ETFs added $132.5 billion, whereas mutual funds attracted $814.3 billion.

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters!
Please enter your email address to subscribe to ETF Trends' newsletters featuring latest news and educational events.