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Monday, October 9, 2017

The ETF Strategist Space Crowns a New King

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

As Vanguard dominates mutual fund and ETF inflows, it's also dominating growth in an adjacent space: ETF strategists.

On Thursday Chicago-based investment research specialist Morningstar released its "Morningstar ETF Managed Portfolios Landscape Report" for the second quarter of 2017. Ben Johnson, director of ETF global research, penned the report as per usual.

Vanguard's ETF strategist, Vanguard Advisers, saw its AUM rise by $2.3132 billion in the second quarter, more than any other ETF strategist in the business, M* estimates. To put that in perspective, Vanguard's AUM now accounts for 8.15 percent of the $107-billion ETF strategist universe that M* tracks, yet Vanguard's AUM increase accounted for about 31.8 percent of the growth in the space. Vanguard is now also the single biggest ETF strategist in the business by M*'s numbers, though Schwab is a bigger ETF strategist player if you combine the numbers for its two ETF strategists.

Other big ETF strategist winners in Q2, by M*'s estimates, include: SEI, AUM up by $944 million; BlackRock, up $918.1 million; Columbia, AUM up $665.3 million; and Richard Bernstein Advisors, up $503.6 million.

On a relative basis, among the 24 biggest ETF strategists, UBS had the biggest Q2 growth, with AUM rising by 42.8 percent. Other big winners last quarter, proportionately, include: Swan Global Investments, up 38.2 percent; Vanguard, up 36.1 percent; SEI, up 35.5 percent, and Richard Bernstein, up 24.5 percent.

On the flip side, Q2 was a rough quarter for Charles Schwab. The brokerage giant's two ETF strategists, Windhaven Investment Management and Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, suffered a combined $466.5 million AUM drop in Q2, by M* estimation, though combined they still make Schwab the biggest in the space. Among the 24 biggest ETF strategists, the only other AUM sufferer was Cougar Global Investments, whose AUM slipped by $29.3 million. On a relative basis, Schwab's AUM slipped by 3.7 percent and Cougar's by 2.7 percent.

Overall, ETF strategists saw a 7.3 percent rise in AUM to $107 billion at the end of Q2, M* estimates. As of the end of Q2, M* tracked 1,023 strategies from 178 different ETF strategists. $5.3 billion of the AUM increase in the space came from previously tracked strategies, while $2 billion came from M* adding new strategies to its database.

It seems that ETF and mutual fund size continues to translate into size in the ETF strategist space, too. Of the firms behind the five biggest ETF strategists, three of them are the three biggest ETF shops (Vanguard, BlackRock, and SSgA), and a fourth is a rapidly growing ETF giant (Schwab). 

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