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February 12, 2024

Monday Morning Memo: Review of the European ETF Market, January 2024

by Detlef Glow.

The European ETF industry enjoyed healthy inflows over the course of January 2024. These inflows occurred in a further unstable market environment since the geopolitical tensions in Middle East, especially the Red Sea, increased over the course of the month and impacts from prolonged delivery times caused by the fact that shipping companies avoid the Suez channel as they don’t want their ships to be targets for the Houthi rebels. Nevertheless, some asset classes showed positive results while others performed negatively. Market sentiment was further driven by hopes that central banks—especially the U.S. Federal Reserve—have reached the last phase of their fight against high and further increasing inflation rates given their rather dovish statements during/after the respective central bank meetings. That said the statements from the U.S. Fed in January about a possible start of lowering interest rates might have caught some investors on the wrong foot, as the central bank indicated that they may start the lowering of interest rates later and with less steps in 2024 than some investors expected. This statement might have impacted the estimated inflows in bond ETFs. In addition, some investors may have also reviewed their expectations for bonds, as there is the risk that the inflation in the major economies might be more sticky than expected and central banks are held responsible to reach their inflation targets. In addition, there are still some concerns about the possibility of a recession in the U.S. and other major economies around the globe. These fears have been raised by a lack of growth in some economies and the long-term inverted yield curves, which are seen as an early indicator for a possible recession. The normalization of inverted yield curves might be another short-term challenge for the bond markets.

The performance of the underlying markets led, in combination with the estimated net inflows, to increasing assets under management (from €1,563.9 bn as of December 31, 2023, to a new all -time-high of €1,607.5 bn at the end of January). At a closer look, the increase in assets under management of €43.6 bn for January was driven by the performance of the underlying markets (+€22.5 bn), while the estimated net inflows contributed (+€21.0 bn) to the increase in assets under management.

As for the overall structure of the European ETF industry, it was not surprising equity funds (€1,162.7 bn) held the majority of assets, followed by bond funds (€375.9 bn), commodities products (€32.2 bn), money market products (€25.8 bn), alternatives products (€7.1 bn), and mixed-assets funds (€3.8 bn).

It is noteworthy that the assets under management in alternatives, bonds, equities, and money market ETFs reached a new all-time high at the end of January 2024.

 

Graph 1: Market Share, Assets Under Management in the European ETF Segment by Asset Type, January 31, 2024

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

Fund Flows by Asset Type

The European ETF industry enjoyed estimated net inflows (+€21.0 bn). These flows were far above the rolling 12-month average (€13.2 bn).

The inflows in the European ETF industry for January were driven by equity ETFs (+€13.3 bn), followed by bond ETFs (+€6.0 bn), money market ETFs (+€1.6 bn), alternatives ETFs (+€0.1 bn), and mixed-assets ETFs (+€0.02 bn). On the other side of the table, only commodities ETFs (-€0.003 bn) faced outflows for January 2024.

 

Graph 2: Estimated Net Sales by Asset Type, January 2024 (Euro Millions)

European ETF industry review, January 2024

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

Assets Under Management by Lipper Global Classifications

In order to examine the European ETF markets in further detail, a review of the Lipper global classifications will lead to more insights on the structure and concentration of assets within the European ETF industry. At the end of January 2024, the European ETF market was split into 168 different peer groups. The highest assets under management at the end of January were held by funds classified as Equity U.S. (€374.0 bn), followed by Equity Global (€263.9 bn), Equity Europe (€78.0 bn), Equity Emerging Markets Global (€68.9 bn), and Equity Eurozone (€55.4 bn). These five peer groups accounted for 52.28% of the overall assets under management in the European ETF segment, while the 10-top classifications by assets under management accounted for 64.25%.

Overall, 17 of the 168 peer groups each accounted for more than 1% of assets under management. In total, these 18 peer groups accounted for €1,180.7 bn, or 73.45%, of the overall assets under management. In addition, it was noteworthy that the rankings of the largest peer groups saw some movement in single positions after the market turmoil caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the following recovery. As the positions of the peer groups had been quite stable in the past, this indicates that European investors use ETFs to trade according to their market views. Even as some of these positions might be core holdings, once investors get into risk-off mode they also reduce their exposure to core asset classes. That said, the ranking changes at the top of the league table which happened during the COVID-19 pandemic have not reversed since and now represent the new normal. Nevertheless, these numbers showed assets under management by Lipper global classifications continued to be highly concentrated in the European ETF industry.

 

Graph 3: Ten-Top Lipper Global Classifications by Assets Under Management, January 31, 2024 (Euro Millions)

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

The peer groups on the other side of the table showed some product offerings in the European ETF market are quite low in assets under management and the constituents of the respective Lipper classifications risk being closed in the near future. They are obviously lacking investor interest and might, therefore, not be profitable for their respective ETF promoters (Please read our report: “Is there a consolidation ahead in the European ETF industry?” for more details on this topic).

 

Graph 4: Ten Smallest Lipper Global Classifications by Assets Under Management, January 31, 2024 (Euro Millions)

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

Fund Flows by Lipper Global Classifications

The net inflows of the 10 best-selling Lipper classifications accounted for €18.6 bn. In line with the overall sales trend for January, equity peer groups (+€12.8 bn) gathered the majority of flows by asset type on the table of the 10 best-selling peer groups by estimated net inflows. Given the overall fund flow trend in the European ETF industry, it was not surprising that Equity U.S. (+€6.3 bn) was the best-selling Lipper global classification for January. It was followed by Equity Global (+€4.2 bn) and Bond EUR Corporates (+€2.4 bn).

These numbers showed the European ETF segment is also highly concentrated when it comes to fund flows by sector. Generally speaking, one would expect flows into ETFs would be concentrated since investors often use ETFs to implement their market views and short-term asset allocation decisions. These products are made and, therefore, are easy to use for these purposes.

 

Graph 5: Ten Best- and Worst-Selling Lipper Global Classifications by Estimated Net Sales, January 2024 (Euro Millions)

European ETF industry review, January 2024

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

On the other side of the table, the 10 peer groups with the highest estimated net outflows for January accounted for €3.4 bn in outflows. These outflows were below the outflows for 10 peer groups with the highest outflows for December 2023 (€6.3 bn).

Equity China (-€0.5 bn) was the Lipper Global Classification with the highest outflows for the month. The category was bettered by Bond USD Government (-€0.5 bn) and Bond USD Corporates (-€0.4 bn).

 

Assets Under Management by Promoters

A closer look at assets under management by promoters in the European ETF industry also showed high concentration, with only 25 of the 55 ETF promoters in Europe holding assets at or above €1.0 bn. The largest ETF promoter in Europe—iShares (€728.3 bn)—accounted for 45.31% of the overall assets under management, far ahead of the number-two promoter—Amundi ETF (€214.5 bn)—and the number-three promoter—Xtrackers (€167.9 bn). (To learn more about the concentration of the European ETF market at the promoter level, please read our report: Spotlight on the concentration at the promoter level in the European ETF industry).

 

Graph 6: Ten-Top ETF Promoters by Assets Under Management, January 31, 2024 (Euro Millions)

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

The 10-top promoters accounted for 93.80% of the overall assets under management in the European ETF industry. This meant, in turn, the other 45 fund promoters registering at least one ETF for sale in Europe accounted for only 6.20% of the overall assets under management.

 

Fund Flows by Promoters

Since the European ETF market is highly concentrated with regard to the assets under management by promoter, it was at bit surprising that all 10 of the 10 largest promoters by assets under management were among the 10-top selling ETF promoters for January, since there are normally also a few smaller ETF promoters on the list. iShares was the best-selling ETF promoter in Europe for January (+€10.2 bn), ahead of Amundi ETF (+€3.2 bn) and Xtrackers (+€2.8 bn).

 

Graph 7: Ten Best-Selling ETF Promoters, January 2024 (Euro Millions)

European ETF industry review, January 2024

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

The flows of the 10-top promoters accounted for estimated net inflows of €22.6 bn. As for the overall flow trend in January, it was clear that some of the 54 promoters (18) faced estimated net outflows (-€2.0 bn in total) over the course of the month.

 

Assets Under Management by Funds

There were 3,368 instruments (primary funds and convenience share classes) listed as ETFs in the Lipper database at the end of January. Regarding the overall market pattern, it was not surprising assets under management at the ETF level were also highly concentrated. Only 356 of the 3,368 instruments held assets above €1.0 bn each. These products accounted for €1,124.1 bn, or 69.93%, of the overall assets in the European ETF industry. The 10 largest ETFs in Europe accounted for €264.4 bn, or 16.45%, of the overall assets under management. (Please read our study: Is the European ETF industry dominated by only a few funds? to learn more about the concentration at the single-fund level in the European ETF industry).

 

Graph 8: Ten Largest ETFs by Assets Under Management, January 31, 2024 (Euro Millions)

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

ETF Flows by Funds

A total of 1,449 of the 3,368 instruments analyzed in this report showed net inflows of more than €10,000 each for January, accounting for inflows of €38.8 bn. This meant the other 1,919 instruments faced no flows or net outflows for the month (When looking at this statistic, one needs to bear in mind that some of these instruments are convenience share classes that do not report assets under management. This means Lipper can’t calculate fund flows for these ETFs). Upon closer inspection, the number of ETFs posting net inflows of more than €100 m for the month is down from 116 at the end of December to 70 for January. The estimated net inflows of these funds account for a total of €20.2 bn. The best-selling ETF for January was iShares Core S&P 500 UCITS ETF USD (acc), which enjoyed estimated net inflows of €2.8 bn. It was followed by iShares Core € Corp Bond UCITS ETF EUR D (+€1.3 bn) and iShares Core MSCI World UCITS ETF USD (Acc) (+€1.2 bn).

 

Graph 9: Ten Best-Selling ETFs, January 2024 (Euro Millions)

European ETF industry review, January 2024

Source: LSEG Lipper

 

The flow pattern at the fund level indicated there was a lot of turnover and rotation during January, but it also showed the concentration of the European ETF industry even better than the statistics at the promoter or classification levels since the 10 best-selling ETFs account for inflows of €6.0 bn.

Given its size and the overall trend for net sales at the promoter level, it was surprising that only five of the 10 best-selling funds for January were promoted by iShares. Nevertheless, these iShares ETFs accounted for the majority of the inflows in the 10 best-selling ETFs, as the estimated net inflows for the five ETFs totalled €6.1 bn.

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