“The lines have blurred,” Rosenbluth added. “We’re seeing more large active managers enter the active ETF space.”

Looking ahead, Rosenbluth argued that the more uncertain conditions could force investors to reconsider their commitment to plain-vanilla index-based strategies after sitting comfortably on their hands through a multi-year bull market. Furthermore, active ETFs may also be a more appealing alternative to actively managed mutual funds given the tax-efficient and cheaper ETF wrapper.

Investors are also demanding more active ETFs. According to an annual survey by Brown Brothers Harriman, wider selection of active ETF strategies tops the current wish lists of U.S. investors and advisors.

Nevertheless, the industry remains reluctant in adding new active ETF offerings since many would have to reveal their secret sauce under the transparent nature of the ETF investment vehicle.

“If you’re a mutual-fund warehouse, you’re trying to figure out how to grow your business without giving away your secret sauce,” Nichole Kramer, an ETF supervisor with Alps Inc.’s intermediary services division, told the WSJ.

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

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