Investors in Europe continued to pile into ETFs throughout 2020 despite markets suffering the worst quarter in Q1 since the Global Financial Crisis.

The most popular ETFs among European investors last year included fixed income and ESG strategies as well as gold as investors sought safe haven from the extreme volatility earlier in the year.

Here are the five ETFs in Europe to capture the highest inflows over the past year, according to data from ETFLogic.

iShares Physical Gold ETC (IGLN)

Topping the table for inflows in 2020 was BlackRock’s iShares Physical Gold ETC which saw $4.9bn inflows for the year.

The near $5bn inflows took IGLN’s total assets under management to $14.3bn after launching in April 2011.

Gold ETCs were the go-to haven for investors throughout 2020. As a result of the high demand, numerous gold ETC providers reduced the fees of their products to underprice competitors while WisdomTree, Invesco and the Royal Mint all launched ETCs last year.

The price of gold peaked over the summer, surpassing $2,000 an ounce in August for the first time in history but has since fallen below $1,900 an ounce

Invesco Physical Gold ETC (SGLD)

Just behind IGLN was another gold ETC but from Invesco. The Invesco Physical Gold ETC (SGLD) captured $4.6bn last year, growing its AUM to $13.5bn.

Invesco reduced SGLD’s total expense ratio twice throughout 2020 to 0.15% down from 0.23% at the beginning of the year.

This fee reduction matches IGLN as well as the Amundi Physical Gold ETC (GOLD) which also saw a respectable $1.7bn inflows in 2020.

iShares China CNY Bond UCITS ETF (CNYB)

Next up was the largest growing fixed income ETF of the year in the form of BlackRock’s China government bond ETF.

The iShares China CNY Bond UCITS ETF (CNYB) secured $3.6bn net new assets last year. Having only launched in July 2019, CNYB’s AUM has grown to $6.3bn.

International investors have been enabled to more easily access the Chinese bond market through its inclusion in several flagship global bond indices from Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs.

FTSE Russell will also be including Chinese government bonds in its global bond index as October this year which is expecting to attract a significant volume of assets into the market.          

iShares Global Clean Energy UCITS ETF (INRG)

The first thematic ETF to feature in the list is BlackRock’s iShares Global Clean Energy UCITS ETF (INRG).

INRG saw nearly $3bn inflows in 2020, accounting for more than half of its $5.4bn AUM which it has gathered since its launch in 2007.

It had a stellar year in terms of performance, having climbed 134.8% in 2020 after mediocre returns in the previous years.

The ETF offers exposure to the 30 largest global clean energy companies.

iShares MSCI USA SRI UCITS ETF (SUUS)

Finishing off the list is an environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETF from BlackRock in the form of the $5.4bn iShares MSCI USA SRI UCITS ETF (SUUS).

The ETF captured $2.2bn inflows last year which is not surprising given the performance of the US market.

SUUS returned 21% last year, driven largely by the 6.1% weighting to Tesla – the largest stock in the index – Disney and Microsoft.

It returned 21% last year which was largely driven by  with Tesla being its largest exposure with 6.1% weighting. SUUS is comprised of US stocks with high ESG scores and are not involved in controversial industries such as tobacco or controversial weapons for example.

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