July ETF Flows Show Investors Turned Risk-On

Many expected a post-Brexit environment would weigh on sentiment and push investors toward safer assets.

However, exchange traded funds that track stocks and riskier assets continued to draw investors over July, with the S&P 500 and emerging market exposure among the standouts.

The benchmark S&P 500 index reached a new all-time intraday high of 2,177.13 on the last trading day of July after a month of steady gains.

As the equities market pushed toward higher highs, investors funneled $13.7 billion into SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), $1.9 billion into iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and $1.2 billion into Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEArca: VOO) over July, according to ETF.com.


SPY is the largest ETF and the first U.S.-listed ETF to hit the market. The S&P 500 fund trades more than any other security, has the most liquid options market of any ETF and tight bid-ask spreads, which make it an ideal investment for institutional traders.

However, potential investor should be aware that SPY is structured as a unit investment trust and not a regulated investment company like other funds. Consequently, the structure prevents SPY from reinvesting dividends, holding securities that are not included in the index, like futures, or engage in securities lending. Moreover, the ETF has a one-month lag between the ex-dividend date and the payment of its dividends.

VOO and IVV have quickly gained traction as an alternative method for accessing the S&P 500. Potential investors should also be aware that VOO is considered a separate class share of its mutual fund. Investors mostly utilize the iShares and Vanguard options as a buy-and-hold option since their lower annual fees have a bigger impact on returns than trading costs.

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