Exchange traded funds continue to be the investment of choice registered independent investment advisors, according to a new Charles Schwab survey
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are becoming an integral part of investment strategies, according to a survey of independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) released on Monday by retail broker and money manager Charles Schwab. Eight-four percent say they currently use ETFs. Almost a third of those surveyed say they plan to invest more in ETFs, the most of any investment vehicle, according to a Schwab press release. The study, conducted over the last two weeks of January, was comprised of 1,337 RIAs representing $284 billion in assets under management.
Among ETF products, 78% of advisors currently invest in equity ETFs and 28% plan to invest more in them over the next six months. Seventy percent of advisors are currently investing in international ETFs for their clients with 23% planning to invest more. More than 60% say they are currently using fixed income ETFs.
Why are ETFs so popular? More than 80% of advisors Schwab surveyed say they use them for diversification in client portfolios and nearly half use ETFs to maintain market exposure while making portfolio adjustments. Forty percent use ETFs as a way to manage risk for clients. Lower cost (75%), trading flexibility (66%), and access to specialized markets (55%) are the top three reasons that advisors say they started using ETFs.
ETFs are increasingly popular in households with a net worth of $1 million to $4,999, not including primary residence. Twenty-nine percent are invested in ETFs, up from 22% in 2009. Among those we surveyed, self-directed investors—those who do not consult with an advisor to make their financial decisions—are most likely to invest in ETFs. Entrepreneurs, too (40%) were also most likely to use ETFs in their strategy.
Overall, the study finds, investors are feeling more upbeat about the economy, and advisors are feeling their gain. Over the past six months, the number of advisors’ clients that needed reassurance they will achieve their investment goals declined from 30% in July 2010 to 23%. This is way down from 49% in January 2009.