Cogent Reports Predicts More Growth in ETF Use Among Investors; Financial Advisors Play a Role

May 14, 2018

According to the latest data from Cogent Reports, ETF providers are poised to capture a bigger slice of affluent investors’ assets. One in five (21%) investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets now owns an exchange-traded fund, up significantly from 18% in 2016. And among affluent investors who plan to purchase an ETF within the next three months, four in ten (39%) are considering the product for the first time. These and other findings are included in Investor Brand Builder™, an annual Cogent Reports™ study by Market Strategies International-Morpace.

Financial advisors play a substantial role in the growing popularity of exchange-traded funds, as half (51%) of ETF owners work with an advisor. According to Cogent advisor research, a record high four in five (81%) advisors report selling ETFs in 2018, and 57% of advisors currently selling ETFs anticipate expanding their use of the product category over the next two years.

“ETF providers are enjoying the best of both worlds,” said Julia Johnston-Ketterer, senior product director at Market Strategies-Morpace’s syndicated research division and author of the report. “We see signs of growth in ETFs from both current investors and those who are new to the category. Additionally, ETF providers receive tremendous distribution support from financial advisors.”

According to Cogent Reports, affluent investors who intend to purchase an ETF in the next three months are most influenced by fee transparency, products that meet their needs, and strong returns. The firms earning the strongest consideration among affluent investors this year are:

Top Five ETF Providers: Overall Consideration




Fidelity Investments




Charles Schwab Investment Management


State Street/SPDR

Base: Affluent investors
Source: Market Strategies International. Cogent Reports™. Investor Brand Builder. October 2018.

“To attract the attention of financial advisors, the most important aspects for ETF providers to convey are value for the money, being a leader in the ETF industry, and consistent performance,” added Meredith Rice, vice president at Market Strategies-Morpace. “The most successful ETF providers are conducting outreach directly to investors as well as with advisors, effectively communicating the value that their brand delivers on these critical drivers of consideration for both audiences.”

About Investor Brand Builder™

Cogent Reports conducted an online survey of a representative cross section of 4,373 investors from June 25 to August 7, 2018. Survey participants were required to be 18 years or older, are sole or shared household financial decision-makers, and have at least $100,000 in investable assets including DC plan and IRA assets but excluding the value of primary real estate. Cogent Reports uses market-sizing incidence survey findings, which are weighted to US census data, to develop quota targets followed during fieldwork and apply minimal statistical weighting post-fielding. The data have a margin of error of ±1.48% at the 95% confidence level. Market Strategies International-Morpace will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.


Click below for more information on the report.

Learn More

Keep me informed. I’d like to receive occasional newsletters, event notifications, and thought leadership materials.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter