These are the Biggest ETF Kids on the Block

Doug Fabian

Doug Fabian is known for his expert knowledge of ETFs, bear funds and enhanced index funds to profit in any market climate.

The world of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is tremendous and rapidly growing. As a result, there is a fund for nearly every niche or idea you can imagine. Investors today have an expansive freedom of choice in this area, yet many make similar choices. As it turns out, there is a relatively small group of funds that hold a very large share of all assets invested in ETFs. Upcoming ETF Talks will elaborate upon the 20 most popular ETFs in the market.

This list of 20 out of the thousands of ETFs available represents 40% of all assets invested in ETFs! This means that they are some of the most well known funds out there. Thus, it’s important that an educated investor be aware of the opportunities that ETFs represent and how they work.

The huge quantity of assets invested in these funds demonstrates how big an impact ETFs have had on investing. These 20 funds hold a combined total of more than $2 trillion. For reference, that’s more than 11% of the United States’ 2013 GDP.

The largest funds on the list tend to follow well-known market indices and invest in the domestic market, such as SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY); international markets in general, such as iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM); or even both.

Relatively smaller entries further down the list are more diverse. These funds focus on subsectors or specific investment directions, such as Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ) and iShares S&P MidCap 400 Index (IJH). The table of all these funds, along with data on their 2014 performance and assets held, can be found below.

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Ticker Name Type YTD% Yield (IND) Assets (MLN)
SPY S&P 500 SPDRs Large Cap Domestic 12.09 2.19 201,539
IVV iShares S&P 500 Index Large Cap Domestic 12.94 1.78 69,854
EFA iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund Intl/Global Equities -7.55 1.89 52,833
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF Large Cap Domestic 11.14 2.10 50,550
VWO Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF Emerging Market – Broad Market -2.73 1.74 47,986
QQQ PowerShares QQQ Large Cap Domestic 19.33 1.48 40,139
EEM iShares MSCI Emerg Mkts Index Emerging Market – Broad Market -5.77 2.72 31,650
IWM iShares Russell 2000 Index Small Cap Domestic 3.51 1.02 29,733
GLD streetTRACKS Gold Shares Commodities – Metals/Miners -2.72 0.00 27,840
IWF iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index Large Cap Domestic 12.59 1.14 27,626
VOO VANGUARD S&P 500 ETF Large Cap Domestic 12.28 2.16 26,543
VNQ Vanguard REIT ETF Real Estate 26.83 5.39 26,522
IWD iShares Russell 1000 Value Index Large Cap Domestic 12.11 1.80 25,979
IJH iShares S&P MidCap 400 Index Mid Cap Domestic 8.69 1.23 24,317
VEA Vanguard Europe Asia Pacific Intl/Global Equities -7.49 2.49 23,976
BND Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF Aggregate Bonds 3.40 2.41 23,940
AGG iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond Aggregate Bonds 3.76 2.06 22,945
VIG Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF Domestic Dividend 8.72 2.24 21,066
XLF Financial Select Sector SPDR Financials 13.22 2.04 21,049
LQD iShares iBoxx $ Liquid Invest Grade Bond Corp Bonds 4.80 3.36 19,076

Data as of 12/22/14

This table provides a roadmap for the next few months of ETF Talks. When we complete this series, you will be knowledgeable about the most popular funds in the rapidly growing ETF market. Check back next week for a look into SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).

If you want my advice about buying and selling specific ETFs, including appropriate stop losses, please consider subscribing to my Successful ETF Investing newsletter. As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an e-mail. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

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In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about an international REIT ETF. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.

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While I can’t really help you with common resolutions like eating better or exercising more, I can help you to be a better exchange-traded fund (ETF) investor in 2015.


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