ETFs Tracking MSCI Indexes see Assets Swell to $418 Billion

MSCI (NYSE: MSCI) continues bolstering its status as one of the premier providers of indexes for use by exchange traded providers as combined assets under management for ETFs benchmarking to MSCI indexes jumped 12% to a record $418 billion in the first quarter.

Share of MSCI are trading slightly higher Monday, but it is impossible to deny the ETF industry’s rapid growth has not benefited MSCI. The company, which is easily one of the most recognized brands in the indexing business, has seen its shares surge 45.1% over the past year.

While MSCI is the index provider to established funds that are some of the largest ETFs in the world, including the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) and the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: EFA), new products are also helping drive the company’s growth. [New ETFs Fuel MSCI’s Growth]

ETF providers launched 56 products based on MSCI indexes during the period, three times more than the next index provider,” said MSCI in a statement.

Many of the largest, most widely used ETFs tracking MSCI indexes are cap-weighted funds, but the index provider has also become a major player in the rapidly growing smart beta space.

“The surge in demand from ETF providers for MSCI Factor Indexes continued, with 11 new ETFs launched in the first quarter, two times higher than the next index provider. These new ETFs attracted $4.4 billion in assets, or 31 percent of the total asset flows into that category,” said MSCI. [Smart Beta Boom]

BlackRock’s (NYSE: BLK) iShares unit, the world’s largest ETF issuer, recently introduced five factor-based ETFs, all of which track MSCI indexes. [BlackRock Adds Five Smart Beta ETFs]

MSCI previously asserted its presence in the smart beta space with the success of ETFs such as the $4.9 billion iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility ETF (NYSEArca: USMV) and the $2.5 billion iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility ETF (NYSEArca: EEMV). Earlier this year, iShares said its minimum volatility ETFs, all of which track MSCI indexes, topped $10 billion in combined assets under management for the first time. [iShares Minimum Volatility ETFs top $10B in AUM]

Minimum volatility ETFs tracking MSCI benchmarks had a combined $13 billion in assets at the end of the first quarter, according to the index provider. ETFs emphasizing the quality factor, including the iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (NYSEArca: QUAL) have also supported MSCI’s growth. QUAL had $698 million in AUM on Dec. 4, but that number is now north of $1.1 billion.