“CFRA thinks some Fidelity clients, similar to other investors, shifted toward dividend-paying equities and away from bonds given the low yields available. With a risk-on environment occurring since November and bond yields rising, such data may not have persisted,” Rosenbluth said.

Retail investors also favored sector-specific products on Fidelity’s platform while fixed-income bets diminished. Over the past four years, taxable bond exposure dipped 10% of overall ETF assets and sector product exposure rose to 14% from 10%. These were not tactical bets as sector ETFs were held on average 28 months among advisory accounts and 21 months in retail accounts as of November 2016.

“While some may expect that sector ETFs are used more tactically,” Paul Baiocchi, Vice President, Sector & ETF Investment Strategy at Fidelity SelectCo, told CFRA. “These ETFs are held for longer average holding periods than all ETFs.”

Baiocchi also pointed out that investors are leaning toward cheaper index-based ETFs. About 97% of flows into ETFs in advisory accounts in the one-year period ended November flowed into ETFs with expense ratios of 40 basis points or less.

For more information on ETF usage, visit our ETF performance reports category.