What to Look for in ETFs in 2018

During the year, 275 new products were launched and 136 products were delisted, according to research firm XTF. The announced acquisition by Invesco Ltd.’s Invesco PowerShares of Guggenheim Investments’ ETF business has brought the slow but steady consolidation toward the top of the ETF pyramid. The fourth-largest issuer at $177 billion in assets, when combined, will still trail State Street Corp.’s State Street Global Advisors ($567 billion), Vanguard Group ($851 billion) and BlackRock Inc. ($1.35 trillion). Additionally, three issuers-Global X, Goldman Sachs and Exchange-Traded Concepts-experienced more than 100% asset growth in 2017, according to Toroso Asset Management.

… 5. Active management is redefined. Even supporters of actively managed stock funds argue that active vs. passive/indexing can be boiled down to high cost vs. low cost. (And, yes, there is high-cost passive in some areas of the market.) Now, Vanguard is gearing up to blow a hole in the active/passive distinction by introducing low-cost, actively managed ETFs in the first quarter—index funds with that will home in on areas of the market recently ruled by the smart-beta crowd—namely momentum, value and minimum volatility, among others.

Lawrence Glosten, Suresh Nallareddy & Yuan Zou, ETF Trading and Informational Efficiency of Underlying Securities

Using a large cross-section of ETF holdings data from January 2004 to December 2013, we document that an increase in ETF trading is accompanied by an increase in price informational efficiency of the underlying stocks, as reflected in the increase in the relation between stock returns and earnings news. The effect of ETF trading on information efficiency should be conditional on the information environment and the degree of capital market competition. Consistent with expectations, when we conduct the information efficiency tests within different segments of the market, we find significant and improved informational efficiency among small firms (firms with market capitalization below the NYSE 50th percentile), stocks with low analyst following (firms with analyst following below the 75th percentile), and stocks with imperfectly competitive equity markets (number of shareholders below the 75th percentile). In contrast, we are unable to document such improvement for big firms, stocks with high analyst following, and for stocks with perfectly competitive equity markets.