ETF Trends
ETF Trends

In 2014, just over 200 new exchange traded products launched in the U.S., more than double the nearly 90 that closed, but even with launches continuing to easily outpace closures, some major ETF issuers are getting choosy about the new number of rookie products they bring to market.

For example, BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), the parent company of iShares, the world’s largest ETF sponsor, launched 29 new ETFs in 2014, a number that matches the ETFs shuttered by the firm, reports Victor Reklaitis for MarketWatch.

The bulk of iShares’ closures came by way of an August announcement declaring 18 closures. Ten of those 18 ETFs, all of which ceased trading in mid-October, were target date funds. In early 2014, iShares announced the closure of 10 ex-U.S. sector ETFs. [iShares to Close 10 ETFs]

Some of the more successful ETFs launched by iShares last year include the $146.1 million iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (NYSEArca: DGRO), the $206.2 millioniShares Core MSCI Europe ETF (NYSEArca: IEUR) and the $140.3 million iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF (NYSEArca: CRBN).

Increased selectivity by issuers when it comes bring new ETFs could become a more prominent theme as the battle for investors’ assets intensifies. Simply put, many new ETFs struggle out of the gates and go months if not years with nary a glance from advisors and investors. As of late December, 92 of the ETFs launched last year had over $10 million in assets under management and none of 2014’s crop of new ETFs came within spitting distance of the over $1 billion accumulated by the First Trust Dorsey Wright Focus 5 ETF (NasdaqGM: FV). FV debuted last March and by November had over $1 billion in assets. [Focus 5 ETF Tops $1B in AUM]

There are more than 7,500 U.S. open-end mutual funds, MarketWatch reports, citing Morningstar data, implying there is room for the U.S. ETF industry to grow from the current area of about 1,700 products.

One thing is clear: Different issuers are taking different approaches to new ETFs. For example, Vanguard, the third-largest U.S. ETF issuer, did not bring a new ETF to market in 2014 but still managed to add $75.3 billion in new ETF assets, a total surpassed only by iShares. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard said it expects to launch its first municipal bond ETF early in the second quarter.

First Trust, one of the fastest-growing U.S. ETF sponsors, launched 15 new products last year, including FV.

iShares Core MSCI Europe ETF

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.