Fastest Growing ETFs 2019

ETFs like 'VOO' and 'USMV' may have seen the largest absolute dollar inflows of the year, but many ETFs are growing faster on a percentage basis.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Sumit Roy
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Edited by: Sumit Roy

Here at ETF.com, we talk a lot about flows. Each day, each week and each month, we put together lists of the ETFs that garner the largest inflows and the largest outflows of assets—an indication of where investors are putting their money to work.

Most of the time, the same batch of ETFs finds itself on these lists. These funds are usually super liquid, extraordinarily cheap and have billions of dollars in assets. For example, in 2019, the $142 billion Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) and the $38 billion iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. ETF (USMV) saw the largest inflows, totaling $15.4 billion and $12.5 billion, respectively.

No matter how you slice it, those are sizable inflows. That said, VTI and USMV aren’t necessarily the ETFs growing the fastest.

On an absolute basis they are, but not on a percentage basis. Year-to-date inflows for the two ETFs represent an increase of 16.4% and 66.8%, respectively, over their total assets at the start of the year. Those are huge, impressive gains for such large ETFs, but nowhere close to the top of the heap.

On a percentage basis, there are loads of ETFs that have grown much faster in 2019—ETFs that almost never make our flows lists because they are starting from a much smaller asset base. In this article, we’ll take a look at these fast-growing funds, which, in many cases, are flying under the radar of the ETF investing public at large.

Measuring Growth

Admittedly, it’s much easier for a small fund to register a big percentage increase in its assets. A fund with only $1 million in assets under management (AUM) simply has to grow to $2 million for its assets to double. Is that noteworthy? Not really.

How about a $1 million fund growing to $50 million? Now that could be noteworthy for some; others might not pay attention until a fund grows even larger, into the hundred-million or even the billion-dollar range.

That’s why we’ve put together two lists: one that showcases the fastest-growing ETFs of the year no matter their starting level of assets, and another that includes ETFs that had $50 million or more in assets at the start of 2019.

 

Fastest Growing ETFs of 2019 (Starting AUM >$0)

Fastest Growing ETFs of 2019 (Starting AUM >$0)
TickerFund2018 Year-End AUM ($M)2019 Inflows ($M)Inflows % of AUM
FNGOMicroSectors FANG+ Index 2X Leveraged ETN0.333.610957%
ISDXInvesco RAFI Strategic Developed ex-US ETF2.2241.810945%
IUSInvesco RAFI Strategic US ETF2.2121.65586%
FLCOFranklin Liberty Investment Grade Corporate ETF17.3548.43171%
SRVRPacer Benchmark Data & Infrastructure Real Estate SCTR ETF5.8180.23092%
SZNEPacer CFRA-Stovall Equal Weight Seasonal Rotation ETF 2.365.52840%
KOMPSPDR S&P Kensho New Economies Composite ETF4.699.22145%
UTRNVesper U.S. Large Cap Short-Term Reversal Strategy ETF2.143.12037%
BJULInnovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF - July3.566.21896%
VSDAVictoryShares Dividend Accelerator ETF9.6161.41681%
LRGEClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF10.0164.71645%
INDSPacer Benchmark Industrial Real Estate SCTR ETF2.435.21475%
PJULInnovator S&P 500 Power Buffer ETF - July5.476.61428%
BMLPDorsey Wright MLP Index ETN2.129.61395%
QGROAmerican Century STOXX U.S. Quality Growth ETF10.0129.41298%

Data measures the year-to-date period through Dec. 31, 2019

Heady Growth From A Small Base
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first list includes smaller ETFs that grew their assets from a tiny asset base. That includes the MicroSectors FANG+ Index 2X Leveraged ETN (FNGO), which attracted inflows of $34 million in 2019, a sizable sum for a product that had a mere $310,000 in assets at the start of the year.

Two Invesco products, the Invesco RAFI Strategic Developed ex-US ETF (ISDX) and the Invesco RAFI Strategic US ETF (IUS) also caught fire, picking up $242 million and $122 million of new assets, respectively. Those are phenomenal figures considering the two products, which weight their holdings based on fundamental factors, started the year with only $2 million in assets each.

Not to be outdone, the Franklin Liberty Investment Grade Corporate ETF (FLCO) went from a $17 million fund to a half-billion-dollar fund in 2019 thanks to inflows of $548 million. FLCO is an actively managed fixed income product with a current distribution yield of 3.7%.

Meanwhile, a pair of products from the Innovator suite of buffered equity ETFs also grew swiftly. The Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF – July (BJUL) and the Innovator S&P 500 Power Buffer ETF – July (PJUL) registered inflows of more than $66 million each in 2019, a hefty gain from their $2 million to $3 million starting balance.

BJUL and PJUL are a part of the hugely successful Innovator family of defined outcome ETFs, which provide capped exposure to U.S. equities, while limiting downside for investors.

Future Giants?

Thus far, the ETFs we’ve looked at began the year with only a few million dollars in assets. The largest among those was the Franklin Liberty Investment Grade Corporate ETF (FLCO), which started 2019 with $17.3 million in AUM and increased to $583 million.

Next, we’ll take a look at ETFs that began the year with a larger asset base—$50 million or more. Naturally, the growth of assets for these funds is smaller, but still extremely impressive.

 

Fastest Growing ETFs of 2019 (Starting AUM >$50M)

Fastest Growing ETFs of 2019 (Starting AUM >$50M)
TickerFund2018 Year-End AUM ($M)2019 InflowsInflows % of AUM
ESGUiShares ESG MSCI U.S.A. ETF122.11191.2975%
BBREJPMorgan BetaBuilders MSCI U.S. REIT ETF113.31050.6927%
DWTVelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN63.5515.9813%
VSGXVanguard ESG International Stock ETF62.0503.1812%
IQLTiShares Edge MSCI Intl Quality Factor ETF115.6886.7767%
SOXSDirexion Daily Semiconductor Bear 3X Shares55.2417.9757%
USHYiShares Broad USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF354.72427.0684%
ESGVVanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF103.3659.3638%
SMMViShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. Small-Cap ETF64.8388.4599%
UVXYProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF212.01120.8529%
SIZEiShares Edge MSCI U.S.A. Size Factor ETF250.51228.1490%
UGAZVelocityShares 3X Long Natural Gas ETN 354.51659.0468%
LGLVSPDR SSGA U.S. Large Cap Low Volatility Index ETF154.3679.3440%
LABDDirexion Daily S&P Biotech Bear 3X Shares50.1212.6425%
TVIXVelocityShares Daily 3x VIX Short-Term ETN 516.92060.9399%

Data measures the year-to-date period through Dec. 31, 2019

 

iShares & Vanguard Popularizing ESG

At the top of this group is the iShares ESG MSCI U.S.A. ETF (ESGU). It started 2019 with $122.1 million in assets and currently has $1.5 billion, thanks to inflows of $1.2 billion and some price appreciation. Not too shabby.

ESGU’s growth is a reflection of the growing popularity of environmental, social and governance (ESG), or principles-based investing.

The Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF (VSGX) and the Vanguard ESG U.S. Stock ETF (ESGV) are another pair of ESG ETFs to see rapid AUM growth in 2019.

Factors Still Popular

ESG ETFs may be getting tons of buzz and growth, but investors haven’t forgotten about factors. Factor ETFs are still hugely popular and growing like weeds.

The iShares Edge MSCI Intl Quality Factor ETF (IQLT), the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol U.S.A. Small-Cap ETF (SMMV), the iShares Edge MSCI U.S.A. Size Factor ETF (SIZE) and the SPDR SSGA U.S. Large Cap Low Volatility Index ETF (LGLV) each saw their assets balloon in 2019 thanks to robust inflows.

Finally, rounding out the fastest-growing ETFs list is an eclectic selection of funds. The JPMorgan BetaBuilders MSCI U.S. REIT ETF (BBRE), the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude Oil ETN (DWT), the Direxion Daily Semiconductor Bear 3X Shares (SOXS) and the iShares Broad USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (USHY) each saw their assets increase by hundreds of percent over the course of the year.

​Email Sumit Roy at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @sumitroy2

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.