ETFs and other exchange-traded products saw a combined $73.4 billion in net inflows in the first quarter, raising total global assets in investments to $2.09 trillion, according to a report by research firm ETFGI released Monday.
Both the inflows and assets are all-time highs, the report said. The asset increase was 7.3% from Dec. 31.
March inflows also were record-setting, ETFGI's report said, at $23.9 billion. For the month, equity ETFs and ETPs had net inflows with $17 billion, followed by fixed income with $5.6 billion, and leverage inverse with $1 billion. Commodity ETFs and ETPs experienced net outflows of $2.6 billion.
Among equity ETFs and ETPs, $16.6 billion of net inflows for the month went to U.S. and North American exposure strategies, with $5.3 billion going to developed Asia-Pacific. However, emerging market equities saw a net outflow of $5 billion.
High-yield strategies led in fixed income in March with net inflows of $1.6 billion, followed by government/corporate with $1.3 billion, and government bonds with $1.1 billion. Money market ETFs and ETPs had net outflows with $665 million.
As of March 31, BlackRock's iShares was the largest ETF and ETP provider with assets of $809 billion, reflecting 38.7% market share; State Street Global Advisors' SPDRs was second with $365 billion, 17.5%; and Vanguard was third at $279 billion, 13.3%. Combined, the three firms account for 69.5% of global ETF and ETP assets, each of the remaining 206 providers has less than 4% market share.
The number of institutional investors that have used ETFs and ETPs globally has grown at a compound annual rate of 8.9% in the five years through Dec. 31, 2011, based on ETFGI's analysis of reported share ownership of ETFs and ETPs using the Thomson Reuters Share ownership database.
“The increasing number of institutional investors globally using ETFs and ETPs is an important factor driving the growth in net new asset flows as well as the growth in total assets under management,” said Deborah Fuhr, managing partner at ETFGI.