Product sponsors brought out 31 new exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) and exchange-traded notes (“ETNs”) in December, pushing the annual launch count up to 247. The month’s eight closures exacerbated an already record year for closings, with the final death toll climbing to 128 ETFs and ETNs. December inflows totaled more than $59 billion, eclipsing the $50 billion the industry gathered in November and placing the annual inflow measurement at $293 billion.

The year-end numbers stand at 1,964 active listings, consisting of 1,774 ETFs and 190 ETNs. Industry assets under management (“AUM”) reached $2.54 trillion, which includes both ETFs and ETNs but excludes fund-of-fund assets. Fund-of-fund assets are excluded to avoid double counting, because their assets are accounted for in the ETFs they are holding.

Industry AUM and the quantity of active listings have been closely correlated for the past decade, with a ratio hovering around $1 billion in assets for each listed product. The late-year surge in assets pushed the average assets size to $1.32 billion, its highest level since 2005. However, the industry remains a lopsided bastion of “haves” and “have-nots.” Although $1.32 billion is the average asset size, only 12.7% (249) of ETFs and ETNs have above-average assets, relegating the other 87.3% to below-average status. The ETF business is obviously not a Lake Wobegon industry.

“Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” – Garrison Keillor, author of the Prairie Home Companion

The median asset level of U.S.-listed ETFs and ETNs is just $69 million, a figure many analysts consider unprofitable. The average is 19 times larger than the median, which strains the definition of skew. Trading activity is even more disjointed, with just a dozen ETFs responsible for half of the industry’s dollar volume. This is no small feat, as December’s trading activity was nearly $1.6 trillion.

For December, the quantity of ETFs with at least $10 billion in assets increased by three to 58. Products with at least $1 billion in assets increased from 283 to 289 and hold more than 90% of industry assets. At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest 1,077 ETFs and ETNs account for just 1% of assets.

ETF Stats for December 2016

December 2016 Month EndETFsETNsTotal
Currently Listed U.S.1,7741901,964
Listed as of 12/31/20151,6442011,845
New Introductions for Month28331
Delistings/Closures for Month628
Net Change for Month+22+1+23
New Introductions 6 Months11210122
New Introductions YTD22918247
Delistings/Closures YTD9929128
Net Change YTD+130-11+119
Assets Under Management$2,520 B$21.7 B$2,541 B
% Change in Assets for Month+3.4%-2.2%+3.3%
% Change in Assets YTD+20.1%+1.0%+19.9%
Qty AUM > $10 Billion58058
Qty AUM > $1 Billion2854289
Qty AUM > $100 Million82833861
% with AUM > $100 Million46.7%17.4%43.8%
AUM Flows for Month +$58.8 B+$0.2 B+$59.0 B
AUM Flows YTD +$291.0 B+$1.7 B+$292.7 B
Monthly $ Volume $1,551 B$46.6 B$1,598 B
% Change in Monthly $ Volume-14.9%-40.0%-15.9%
Avg Daily $ Volume > $1 Billion909
Avg Daily $ Volume > $100 Million1005105
Avg Daily $ Volume > $10 Million35812370
Actively Managed ETF Count (w/ change)163+2 mth+26 ytd
Actively Managed AUM $30.0 B+4.7% mth+30.6% ytd
 Data sources: Daily prices and volume of individual ETPs from Norgate Premium Data. Fund counts and all other information compiled by Invest With An Edge.

New products launched in December (sorted by launch date):

  1. PowerShares S&P International Developed High Dividend Low Volatility Portfolio (IDHD), launched 12/1/16, tracks the S&P EPAC Ex-Korea Low Volatility High Dividend Index. It is composed of 100 securities in the S&P EPAC Ex-Korea LargeMidCap Index that have historically provided high dividend yields with lower volatility over the past 12 months. The ETF has a yield of 4.9% and an expense ratio of 0.30% (IDHD overview).
  2. PowerShares S&P SmallCap High Dividend Low Volatility Portfolio (XSHD), launched 12/1/16, will track the S&P SmallCap 600 Low Volatility High Dividend Index, which is composed of 60 securities in that have historically provided high dividend yields with lower volatility over the past 12 months. XSHD has a current yield of 3.7% and an expense ratio of 0.30% (XSHD overview).
  3. iShares MSCI USA ESG Optimized ETF (ESGU), launched 12/2/16, tracks an index composed of U.S. companies that have positive environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) characteristics as identified by MSCI while exhibiting risk and return characteristics similar to those of the parent MSCI USA Index. It has an expense ratio of 0.28% (ESGU overview).
  4. Virtus Newfleet Dynamic Credit ETF (BLHY), launched 12/6/16, is an actively managed ETF that dynamically allocates between high-yield corporate bonds and floating-rate bank loans. The ETF also has the ability to invest up to 100% of its assets in U.S. Treasurys when the managers determine that market conditions warrant such a move. It uses top-down sector and industry analysis, bottom-up security selection, and opportunistic trading. The expense ratio is capped at 0.68% (BLHY overview).
  5. Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB), launched 12/7/16, seeks to track the Solactive USD High Yield Corporates Total Market Index. Holdings are global in nature with 87% in North America, 12% Europe, and 1% Asia. It comes with an expense ratio of 0.25% (HYLB overview).
  6. Janus SocGen Global Quality Income ETF (SGQI), launched 12/8/16, will track the SGI Global Quality Income Index, which consists of high-yielding global developed-market equities designed to deliver consistent dividend income. It has an expense ratio of 0.45% (SGQI overview).
  7. The WEAR ETF (WEAR), launched 12/9/16, tracks an index designed to track companies that have a current or future business focus on wearable technology devices and/or components of such devices. Companies eligible for inclusion include companies that derive a portion of their revenues from the sale of technology devices that can be worn, or the manufacture of components used in wearable devices. The global theme-based ETF uses a modified-equal-weighting methodology and carries an expense ratio of 0.85% (WEAR overview).
  8. VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude ETN (DWT), launched 12/9/16, is an exchange-traded note (“ETN”) issued by Citigroup Global Markets Holdings Inc. and guaranteed by Citigroup Inc. The ETN intends to provide exposure equal to three times the inverse of the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Index ER. It replaces the VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude ETN (former ticker DWTI), which was issued by Credit Suisse and delisted after trading on 12/8/16. This new version has an expense ratio of 1.50% (DWT overview).
  9. VelocityShares 3x Long Crude ETN (UWT), launched 12/9/16, is an ETN issued by Citigroup, proving exposure equal to three times the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Crude Oil Index ER. It replaces the VelocityShares 3x Long Crude ETN (former ticker UWTI), which was issued by Credit Suisse and delisted after trading on 12/8/16. This new version has an expense ratio of 1.50% (UWT overview).
  10. Amplify YieldShares CWP Dividend & Option Income ETF (DIVO), launched 12/14/16, is an actively managed ETF that seeks investment results that correspond generally to an existing investment strategy called the Enhanced Dividend Income Portfolio, managed by DIVO’s subadvisor, Capital Wealth Planning. The ETF seeks income from dividend-paying stocks selected from S&P 500 Index and by opportunistically writing covered calls on those stocks. It has an expense ratio of 0.95% (DIVO overview).
  11. NuShares ESG Large-Cap Growth ETF (NULG), launched 12/14/16, will track the TIAA ESG USA Large-Cap Growth Index, which invests primarily in large-capitalization U.S. equity securities that exhibit overall growth style characteristics and that satisfy certain environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) criteria. NULG has an expense ratio of 0.35% (NULG overview).
  12. NuShares ESG Large-Cap Value ETF (NULV), launched 12/14/16, will track the TIAA ESG USA Large-Cap Value Index, which invests primarily in large-capitalization U.S. equity securities that exhibit overall value style characteristics and that satisfy certain ESG criteria. The ETF carries an expense ratio of 0.35% (NULV overview).
  13. NuShares ESG Mid-Cap Growth ETF (NUMG), launched 12/14/16, will track the TIAA ESG USA Mid-Cap Growth Index, which invests primarily in mid-capitalization U.S. equity securities that exhibit overall growth style characteristics and that satisfy certain ESG criteria. It has an expense ratio of 0.40% (NUMG overview).
  14. NuShares ESG Mid-Cap Value ETF (NUMV), launched 12/14/16, will track the TIAA ESG USA Mid-Cap Value Index, which invests primarily in mid-capitalization U.S. equity securities that exhibit overall value style characteristics and that satisfy certain ESG criteria. NUMV’s expense ratio is 0.40% (NUMV overview).
  15. NuShares ESG Small-Cap ETF (NUSC), launched 12/14/16, seeks to track the TIAA ESG Small-Cap Index, which invests primarily in small-capitalization U.S. equity securities that satisfy certain ESG criteria. The new ETF has an expense ratio of 0.40% (NUSC overview).
  16. John Hancock MultiFactor Developed International ETF (JHMD), launched 12/16/16, targets developed-market stocks outside of North America using a multifactor approach. Its selection process emphasizes smaller capitalization, lower relative price, and higher profitability. Its expense ratio is capped at 0.45% (JHMD overview).
  17. Pacer US Cash Cows 100 ETF (COWZ), launched 12/19/16, is a strategy-driven ETF that aims to provide capital appreciation over time by screening the Russell 1000 Index for the top 100 companies based on free cash flow yield. COWZ has an expense ratio of 0.49% (COWZ overview).
  18. BMO Elkhorn DWA MLP Select Index ETN (BMLP), launched 12/20/16, is an ETN that is an unsecured and unsubordinated debt obligation of the Bank of Montreal. The underlying Dorsey Wright Index includes 15 master limited partnerships (“MLPs”) selected with a proprietary relative-strength methodology. All constituents are equally weighted at each monthly rebalancing. The new ETN has an expense ratio of 0.85% (BMLP SEC filing).
  19. NuShares Short-Term REIT ETF (NURE), launched 12/20/16, will track the Dow Jones U.S. Select Short-Term REIT Index. It targets real estate investment trusts (REITs) with short-term lease agreements, which may exhibit less price sensitivity to fluctuating interest rates. NURE carries an expense ratio of 0.35% (NURE overview).
  20. WBI Power Factor High Dividend ETF (WBIY), launched 12/21/16, will track the Solactive Power Factor High Dividend Index, which selects the 50 highest-yielding dividend-paying U.S. stocks with the strongest quality fundamentals. The smart beta ETF has an expense ratio of 0.67% (WBIY overview).
  21. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Consumer Discretionary Portfolio (XD), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Consumer Discretionary Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing consumer goods and services that are cyclical in nature. The ETF holds 60 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XD overview).
  22. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Consumer Staples Portfolio (XS), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Consumer Staples Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing consumer goods and services that have noncyclical characteristics. The ETF holds 18 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XS overview).
  23. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Energy Portfolio (XE), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Energy Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of producing, distributing, or servicing energy-related products. The ETF holds 20 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XE overview).
  24. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Financials Portfolio (XF), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Financials Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing financial services and products. The ETF holds 60 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XF overview).
  25. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Health Care Portfolio (XH), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Health Care Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing health-care-related products, facilities, and services. The ETF holds 29 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XH overview).
  26. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Industrials Portfolio (XI), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Industrials Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing industrial products and services. The ETF holds 59 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XI overview).
  27. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Information Technology Portfolio (XK), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Information Technology Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing information-technology-related products and services. The ETF holds 67 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XK overview).
  28. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Materials Portfolio (XM), launched 12/30/16, will follow the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Materials Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of producing raw materials. The ETF holds 29 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XM overview).
  29. Elkhorn S&P MidCap Utilities Portfolio (XU), launched 12/30/16, will follow based the S&P MidCap 400 Capped Utilities & Telecom Services Index, which is composed of mid-capitalization companies that are principally engaged in the businesses of providing either energy, water, electric, or natural gas utilities or providing telecommunications services. The ETF holds 19 stocks and has an expense ratio of 0.29% (XU overview).
  30. Legg Mason Global Infrastructure ETF (INFR), launched 12/30/16, seeks to track an index composed of infrastructure-related equity securities from global markets constructed through the application of several fundamental factors. It carries an expense ratio of 0.53% (INFR overview).
  31. O’Shares FTSE Russell Small Cap Quality Dividend ETF (OUSM), launched 12/30/16, seeks to track the performance of the FTSE US Small Cap Qual/Vo/Yield Factor 3% Capped Index. The underlying index is designed to reflect the performance of publicly listed small-capitalization dividend-paying issuers in the United States exhibiting high quality, low volatility, and high dividend yields. OUSM has an expense ratio of 0.48% (OUSM overview).

Product closures in December and last day of listed trading:

  1. VelocityShares 3x Inverse Crude ETN (DWTI), 12/8/16
  2. VelocityShares 3x Long Crude ETN (UWTI), 12/8/16
  3. iShares iBonds Dec 2016 Term Corporate (IBDF), 12/15/16
  4. Oppenheimer Navellier Overall A-100 Revenue (RWV), 12/15/16
  5. Pacer Autopilot Hedged European (PAEU), 12/22/16
  6. The Restaurant ETF (BITE), 12/22/16
  7. Guggenheim BulletShares 2016 Corp Bond (BSCG), 12/29/16
  8. Guggenheim BulletShares 2016 HY Corp Bond (BSJG), 12/29/16

Product changes in December:

  1. Credit Suisse delisted, suspended issuance, but did not liquidate the VelocityShares 3x oil ETNs after the close on December 8.

Announced product changes for coming months:

  1. Beginning on or around January 23, 2017, the iShares Core Russell U.S. Value ETF (IUSV) will track a new underlying index, the S&P 900 Value Index. The iShares Core Russell U.S. Growth ETF (IUSG) will track the S&P 900 Growth Index.
  2. The ETFS Zacks Earnings Large-Cap U.S. Index Fund (ZLRG) and ETFS Zacks Earnings Small-Cap U.S. Index Fund (ZSML) will close and liquidate after the close of trading on January 23.
  3. Dhandho Junoon ETF (JUNE) shareholders approved the reorganization and acquisition of the fund by Cambria. The transaction is expected to close on January 23, 2017.
  4. Horizons ETF Management announced that it intends to acquire the four Recon Capital ETFs (DAX, QYLD, USMR, and BMLA), with the transition expected to be finalized in 1Q 2017.

Previous monthly ETF statistics reports are available here.

Disclosure: Author has no positions in any of the securities, companies, or ETF sponsors mentioned. No income, revenue, or other compensation (either directly or indirectly) is received from, or on behalf of, any of the companies or ETF sponsors mentioned.