The first half of 2022 was a rough one for advisors and their clients: Inflation soared, interest rates rose, bond prices sank and major stock indexes went full bear.
That sour sentiment certainly slowed the roll of the ETF freight train that barreled through traditional investments and collected $900 billion of new cash last year. But it hasn’t put a hitch in the product development machine at ETF sponsors. In fact, 2022 product debuts remain on pace to match last year’s record year.
Investors plunked $291.2 billion in ETFs year to date through June 24, according to FactSet Research data, down from $471.8 billion during the first six months of 2021. But some 198 ETFs have debuted so far this year, according to data from Morningstar Direct, roughly even with the 200 that debuted in last year’s first half.
Economics 101 would suggest that supply should moderate with demand, so why so many debuts? For one, these aren’t your parents’ passive funds.
Over half (59%) of the ETF debuts this year are active strategies. The active ETF market remains just a sliver of the overall universe, less than 5% as of May, according to Morningstar’s database. Active ETFs take a while to build track records and work their ways onto home offices’ platforms, so timing the launch to today’s investor sentiment is less important than debuting at a time the product can reasonably perform.
Another chunk of ETF launches, about 8%, fall into Morningstar’s definition of sustainable. That’s up from about 6.5% in 2021 and comes as advisors increasingly look for products that satisfy certain clients’ – younger ones in particular – social or environmental goals.
Ultimately, ETF product development still takes the fail-fast startup ethos, launching products and then, over time, scraping up the spaghetti that falls of the wall, analysts note. They point to liquidations, which are also up in 2022 – 39 this year compared with 22 in 2021 — and argue it’s a healthy sign that the market is working.
Advisors may appreciate the added choice when clients are ready to step back into the investing fray.