Exchange traded funds are becoming a household name as investors have been piling into the investment vehicle, expanding the global ETF market toward $3 trillion in assets.

After attracting an additional $36.1 billion, global ETFs saw $97.2 billion in inflows over the first quarter, or almost triple the total for the same quarter year-over-year. [ETFs Haul in $36.1 Billion in March]

As of the end of February, assets invested in exchange traded products, which include both ETFs and exchange traded notes, globally reached a new record high of $2.919 trillion.

“The global ETF/ETP industry had 5,632 ETFs/ETPs, with 10,902 listings, from 245 providers listed on 63 exchanges in 51 countries,” according to ETFGI’s Deborah Fuhr. “We expect the assets to break through the US$3 trillion milestone in the first half of 2015.”

The sudden growth of ETFs reflects their popularity among investors who have sought a more efficient alternative to costlier mutual funds. ETFs offer low costs, transparency and greater liquidity and tax advantages than mutual funds. Additionally, investors are able to access ETFs through a brokerage account during the day, like a company stock. [What an All-ETF Portfolio Does for You]

Now, after a significant reduction in market volatility as central banks implement aggressive monetary policies, passive index-based ETFs have expanded fourfold since 2007, reports Joel Lewin for the Financial Times.

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