While the U.S. exchange traded fund industry is hovering around $2 trillion in assets under management, ETF usage across the pond is also expected to quickly pick up momentum.
According to a recent Greencwich Associates survey, European institutional investors, including pension funds, insurers and asset managers, hold ETFs for a wide range of purposes and sit on them for much longer than previously thought, according to the Automated Trader.
“The results of this study suggest that ETFs will continue to grow in Europe in terms of both number of institutional users and size of institutional allocations,” according to Greenwich Associates.
While Europe’s ETF industry is not as large as the U.S., European investors are quickly throwing more assets into ETF investments. For instance, one in five European institutional investors intended to increase their use of ETFs over the next three years, and about one in ten expect to raise allocations by over 10% within that period.
In contrast, there were 1,662 U.S.-listed ETFs/ETPs with $2.0 trillion in assets under management at the end of December 2014. [ETFs: No Stopping at $2 Trillion]
On the Greenwich survey, about 71% of European institutional investors revealed that they use ETFs within their multi-asset funds, over a third of respondents employ ETFs within equity funds, 52% say utilize ETFs for domestic bond exposure and 59% use ETs for international fixed-income exposure.
While short-term moves may reveal significant asset flows that can only come from institutional-sized investors, many European institutions are holding onto ETF positions for a significant period, with 6% of respondents using ETFs for tactical adjustments and 2% only held them for one month or less. On average, pension funds held ETFs for an average 29 months, the longest of the group.
Among the top factors for choosing an ETF, institutions pointed to a fund’s expense ratio, liquidity or trading volume, underlying benchmark and performance. However, different institutions have varying priorities. For instance, insurers mark ETF liquidity as the most important factor while pensions point to expense ratio or costs.