Global ETF Review Q1 2019: Fixated on Fixed Income | BetaShares

Global ETF Review Q1 2019: Fixated on Fixed Income

BY Ilan Israelstam | 15 May 2019
global etf review Q1 2019: Fixed income

Reading time: 3 min

The first quarter of 2019 saw investors continue to preference investing via the ETF structure compared to traditional mutual funds, which continued to sustain net outflows. Fixed income was most definitely the flavour of the quarter, as investors moved to a decidedly risk-off position in their portfolios.

Within equities, North American exposures topped the charts, while, at a sector level, it was real estate that grew strongly as investors sought out high yield sectors to combat the lack of rate increases by the Fed. Financials and Technology ETFs were sold off, the first due to increased earnings pressure in the Banking industry and the latter due to profit taking as technology markets continued to rally.

The global ETF industry ended the first quarter of 2019 at a record high of US$5.4 trillion in assets under management (AUM), posting a strong quarterly growth rate of 12%.

BetaShares expects that in 2019 the global ETF industry will continue on a fast growth trajectory, in line with the average growth rate of 20% p.a. experienced in the last decade.

The full report is available for download, but I’ve captured some key highlights below.

ETFs vs. traditional mutual funds

The rapid growth of the ETF industry reflects continued investor preference for ETFs as an investment vehicle over traditional mutual funds, rather than necessarily a preference for passive over active investments.

In the U.S., for example, combined passive and active ETF net inflows were ~US$52 billion in Q1 2019.  By contrast, passive managed funds saw net outflows of ~US$15 billion, which along with large net outflows in active managed funds (US$26 billion) took total managed fund outflows in Q1 to US$41 billion.

While the Australian ETF industry has not yet seen such a clear divergence in flows, Australian ETFs are nonetheless outgrowing their traditional managed fund counterparts. For example, according to Plan For Life, the $900 billion Australian retail managed funds sector received net inflows of $5B in 2018. By comparison, the far smaller ~$40B Australian ETF industry’s 2018 net inflows were ~$6.2B.

US Flows by Structure (Equities) – Q1 2019 ($m)

US FLows by structure (equities)

Source: Bloomberg.


Global ETF flows by asset class: favouring fixed income

Investors flocked into fixed income in Q1 2019 at the expense of equities, reflecting a clear risk-off sentiment, and despite strong performance in many global share markets.

This trend is not confined to the U.S., with the European ETF market seeing record net inflows into fixed income ETPs of more than ~€14 billion.

The interest in fixed income was mirrored in Australia in the first quarter of the year, with the category receiving very strong support from local investors with over A$500m of net inflows in the period. Within the BetaShares Fixed Income & Hybrid Suite, strong flows, in particular, were recorded in the Hybrid Active ETF (HBRD), the Australian Senior Bank Floating Rate Bond ETF (QPON) and the Australian Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (CRED).


Spotlight: Cannabis ETFs

In this quarter’s spotlight, we focus on the remarkable growth in the rather small number of Cannabis ETFs, which have quite literally exploded in size since their relatively recent introduction.

The first Cannabis ETF was introduced in Canada in the middle of 2017, with the first U.S. listed product commencing trading in February 2018.

Since the beginning of 2018, the cumulative flows into the handful of these Cannabis products has reached >U.S.$1.5B and the interest from investors shows no sign of slowing as the industry becomes increasingly legitimised by regulatory approvals around the world – definitely one to watch!

Cannabis ETF Fund Flows (US $m)

Cannabis ETFs

Source: Bloomberg


Download the full Q1 2019: Global ETF Review to read more. The Global ETF Review is published each quarter and accompanies the monthly BetaShares Australian ETF Review which focuses on the local ETF industry. The next scheduled publication date in early July.


  1. Will  |  May 15, 2019


    Please tell me if Beta has an actively managed ETF composed of a number of ETFs which are bought and sold depending on the market they follow, Long-Short, various countries, various individual trading styles of each contained ETF, etc. is one idea of diversification.

    Thank you.


    1. Gavin Montgomery  |  May 15, 2019

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      We do not currently offer any exposures like that, however, I would be happy to pass that onto our strategy team.

      If you have any further enquiries, you are welcome to either email us at or call us on 1300 487 577.

      BetaShares Client Services

  2. Bruno  |  May 22, 2019

    Hi Betashares,

    You have indicated in this review increasing flows to Fixed Interest.

    In the US, there are a lot of ETF’s available to provide investors convenient exposure to Long Duration Bonds (an asset class with historically the highest diversification benefit to equity).

    In Australia, there is currently no ETF provider that provides a long duration bond fund. There is a gap in the market for an ETF provider to provide such exposure in Australia that is not being met.

    If you are able to consider adding such an ETF (or more than one even, say an Aus Long duration fund and a US long duration fund). I would be a very happy investor and would be happy to make use of such a product, currently my options are limited to using US domiciled ETF’s and investing directly in Aus Govt exchange traded bonds for such an exposure in a remotely convenient manner.


    1. Gavin Montgomery  |  May 22, 2019

      Hi Bruno,

      I think you will be glad to know that we already offer a long duration bond ETF. The Australian Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF has a modified duration of roughly 6.1 years, you can visit the fund page here.

      If you have any further enquiries, you are welcome to either email us at or call us on 1300 487 577.

      BetaShares Client Services

  3. Bruno  |  May 23, 2019

    Hi Gavin,

    Thankyou for your reply. I’m sorry, I do respectfully disagree with your designation of CRED as a long duration bond fund. I will explain.

    When I say long duration, I want securities with terms of 10+ years (ideally 20+). And a fund duration of 15+ …

    I’m afraid duration of only 6 is not sufficient to be remotely considered long duration given any broad based Fixed Interest benchmark in Australia such as S&P/ASX Australian Fixed Interest Index has duration of about 6 anyway.

    To clarify, the kind of exposures I currently need to use US domiciled ETF’s to acquire simply are ETF’s like VCLT, VGLT, SPTL, (you should be able to find them easily). Or if not using these US ETF’s, Aus Govt ETB’s get used.

    These long duration exposures are a key building block for diversifying equity risk, it means I can run much shorter weights to FI and get the same diversification benefit. Currently no ETF provider in Australia offers such an exposure locally.

    Sooner or later someone will create an Aus domiciled product to simply acquire these exposures. I hope you do it!

    1. Gavin Montgomery  |  May 29, 2019

      Hi Bruno,

      By definition you are correct, long duration bonds would typically be considered 10+ years. I simply meant that we have one of the longest duration bond ETF’s on the Australian market. The US ETF market is certainly more developed than that of the Australian and over time development of longer duration products will progress.

      Kind Regards,
      BetaShares Client Services

Leave a Reply