The most popular ETFs aren’t necessarily the best performing ETFs. They’re just the ones that investors are choosing based on their own assessment, market commentary, or trends.
We’ve listed the most popular ETFs by funds under management (FUM) growth, as well as the most popular ETFs by flows (i.e. where investors are putting their money or taking money out).
While investors shouldn’t just follow the pack when it comes to investing, a standout trend is how often popular investments are those that are low cost and track a broad market index (like the S&P/ASX 300). These types of ETFs are less risky as they offer more diversification than many thematic ETFs.
Most popular ETFs by funds under management (FUM) growth
Australian investors were also keen to get exposure to the U.S. market through both their S&P 500 and the technology focused U.S. Nasdaq index, with both the BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF (ASX: NDQ) and iShares S&P 500 ETF (ASX: IVV) coming in fourth and fifth place in the top FUM growth winners. Both are offered as part of Stockspot Themes.
5. iShares S&P 500 ETF (ASX: IVV)
One year FUM change: +$0.9b (+30%)
Investors gravitated towards U.S. markets as they experienced a strong recovery from the COVID-19 correction. IVV is one of the most popular ETFs amongst our Stockspot Themes clients.
4. BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF (ASX: NDQ)
One year FUM change: +$1.3b (+41%)
Like the iShares S&P 500 ETF (ASX:IVV), NDQ provides exposure to the U.S market but is more tech-focused. We saw many investors wanting to get exposure to technology led businesses given the acceleration in digital adoption throughout 2020.
3. SPDR S&P ASX 200 Fund (ASX: STW)
One year FUM change: +$3.0b (+42%)
STW is one the oldest, highly liquid and most favoured ETFs in the Australian market, rising 42% over the past year in FUM growth.
2. iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF (ASX: IOZ)
One year FUM change: +$2.6b (+167%)
IOZ is slightly cheaper than STW, despite tracking the same index. This ETF saw a massive increase in size due to strong flows and many large fund managers using IOZ in their model portfolios.
1. Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS)
One year FUM change: +$3.6b (+86%)
The Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS) was the most popular ETF this year, growing it’s assets by almost $3.6b. With the exception of the Magellan Global Fund – Open Class Units (Managed Fund) (ASX: MGOC), which recently transformed its open and close ended fund (which we have excluded from this year’s analysis), VAS continues to reign as the most popular ETF in Australia, with $7.8 billion under management.
It’s why we recommend the VAS ETF to clients. Read more about the best Australian shares.
Most Popular ETFs by flows
The Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS) continued to attract investor flows with $1.9b in net flows over the last 12 months.
The iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF (ASX: IOZ) which tracks the ASX 200 wasn’t too far behind, attracting $1.8b in new flows. Both VAS and IOZ took in 10% of the $34b in total netflows for the last 12 months, which shows how much investors trust broad based index ETFs.
The BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF (ASX: NDQ) had $670m in netflows as investors chased the red-hot performing technology sector. NDQ is now the 16th biggest ETF on the Australian share market (up three spots from last year) thanks to these large inflows and strong performance.
Investors were still interested in getting exposure to defensive assets during a volatile COVID-19 and sought haven in fixed income securities with the iShares Core Composite Bond ETF (ASX: IAF) attracting $665m in netflows, making it the fourth most popular ETF by inflows. IAF now has over $1.7b of Australian’s ETF money and is the bond ETF we recommend for our clients.
In fifth spot was the VanEck Vectors MSCI World Ex-Australia Quality ETF (ASX: QUAL) which attracted $635m in investor money over the past 12 months. Investors wanted exposure to companies with high profitability and low debt which explains the popularity of this ETF during a turbulent 2020.
Most popular ETFs in 2021
|ASX Code||ETF Name||Change in FUM ($M)||FUM |
|VAS||Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF||$3,599.8||$4,199.4||$7,799.2|
|IOZ||iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF||$2,634.8||$1,582.2||$4,217.0|
|STW||SPDR S&P/ASX 200||$1,283.6||$3,094.6||$4,378.2|
|NDQ||BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF||$928.8||$709.6||$1,638.5|
|IVV||iShares S&P 500 ETF||$918.0||$3,029.8||$3,947.8|
Least popular ETFs in 2021
|ASX Code||ETF Name||Change in FUM ($M)||FUM Mar’20||FUM Mar’21|
|USD||BetaShares U.S Dollar ETF||-$189.0||$327.9||$139.0|
|QPON||BetaShares Australian Bank Senior Floating Rate Bond ETF||-$85.7||$760.1||$674.4|
|BEAR||BetaShares Australian Equities Bear (Hedge Fund)||-$69.6||$130.8||$61.2|
|IHHY||iShares Global High Yield Bond (AUD Hedged) ETF||-$66.4||$168.5||$102.1|
|FLOT||VanEck Vectors Australian Floating Rate ETF||-$65.0||$302.5||$237.5|