Assets continued to pour into European-listed ETFs in 2019 as the ecosystem continued its ongoing development in a memorable year for the industry.
As we enter a new decade, ETF Stream takes a look back at the most read stories of 2019 ranging from BlackRock's decision to merge its mutual fund and ETF sales teams to the industry figures named in our30 Index.
1. Vanguard slashes fees across ETF and index range
Coming in at number one is Vanguard's decision to slash the fees for 13 ETFs and 22 index funds in October, in a move highlighting the world's second largest asset manager's intent in Europe.
The fee cuts did not make the Vanguard products the cheapest on the market, however, the firm emphasised the need for cheap products across the entire range.
2. CommSec criticised for ETF choices
A story that gained much traction Down Under came in July when CommSec's new ETF brokerage was criticised as industry sources said the firm only selected ETFs with the lowest unit price instead of the best products.
The move meant Vanguard products, many of which have the cheapest TERs in Australia, were not included on the platform due to their high unit prices.
3. BlackRock launches range to rival Vanguard’s LifeStrategy funds
One big play from BlackRock this year came in May when it threw down the gauntlet to rival Vanguard by taking on its LifeStrategy offering with the launch of a four-strong multi-asset suite.
The 'MyMap' range invests entirely in iShares index funds and costs investors 0.17%, 5 basis points cheaper than Vanguard's five-strong LifeStrategy suite.
4. BlackRock’s decision to merge mutual fund and ETF sales teams shows direction of travel for industry
An opinion article from ETF Stream's senior writer Tom Eckett on BlackRock's move to merge its mutual fund and ETF sales teams in Europe is at number four.
In it, he argues asset managers that have the full range of products but fail to take this approach face being left behind in a world where a solutions-based approach is what investors want.
5. ETF Insight: Inside First Trust, the silent ETF powerhouse
For this ETF Insight article, ETF Stream’s editor David Tuckwell took a deep dive into the reasons why First Trust and its chief executive James Bowen have been so successful in recent years, generating $475 million in ETF revenue a year.
Despite the company’s low profile, he argues First Trust’s winning product innovation means the company will continue to remain a big player within the ETF industry for years to come.
6. ETF Stream 30 Index winners revealed
In June, ETF Stream announced it was launching a 30 Index where we would recognise the most influential people from across the European ETF industry.
In a move which was well received across the European ETF industry, those named in the top 10 included Solactive's CEO Steffen Scheuble, Arthur Cox's Tara O'Reilly and HANetf's co-CEOs Hector McNeil and Nik Bienkowski.
7. Australia’s best ETF: Vanguard’s VAS or VanEck’s MVW?
Earlier this year, ETF Stream's editor David Tuckwell took a deep dive into two of Australia's most popular share ETFs the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (VAS) and the VanEck Vectors Australian Equal Weight ETF (MVW).
He concludes more income-minded investors should perhaps look to VAS while those with "less faith" in banks and miners would be better served with MVW.
In a year in which the escalating trade tensions between the US and China dominated the headlines, it appears investors were searching frantically to find the different ways of gaining exposure to this area of the market.
These five ETFs include four Asia ex-Japan products and a pan-Asia strategy coming from State Street Global Advisors.
9. Vanguard Australia brings flamethrower to ETF fee fight
More Vanguard fee news comes in at number nine, however, this time it is in Australia where it slashed charges on three of its major ETFs in June.
Interestingly, the drop in fees came 24 hours after a similar announcement by BlackRock, which lowered the fee on its iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF (IOZ). It really is a race to the bottom.
10. Can BlackRock match Vanguard’s brave fee cut?
And finally, it appears our readers simply cannot get enough of the ongoing fee war between BlackRock and Vanguard.
In May, Vanguard cut charges on 21 ETFs and by ETF Stream's calculations, this is expected to cost the firm $86.2m a year in revenues. We then worked out how much it would take for BlackRock to match this dramatic fee reduction.