Last updated: 04:52 / Friday, 10 September 2021
According to Cerulli Associates

Smart Beta ETFs Are Gaining Traction with European Private Banks

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  • European private banks’ average portfolio allocation to ETFs is set to increase from 18% in 2020 to 25.7% by 2022
  • EUR bonds were the clear winner among private banks, whereas wealth managers expect other bond strategies to be most popular
  • The pandemic provided a significant stress test for bond ETFs and their resilience triggered interest from investors who had not previously considered them

Nearly half (46%) of the European private banks and independent wealth managers expect demand for smart beta exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to increase over the next 24 months, according to the latest issue of "The Cerulli Edge-Europe Edition", a survey by Cerulli Associates.

“Forty-four percent of the respondents to our research expect passive ETF demand to increase over the next two years,” says Fabrizio Zumbo, associate director, European asset and wealth management research at the firm. Besides, the research indicates that European private banks’ average portfolio allocation to ETFs is set to increase from 18% in 2020 to 25.7% by 2022 and that specific sector/country exposure is by far the most important consideration for these institutions when evaluating ETFs.

According to Zumbo, there have been some interesting developments away from the mainstream asset classes. For example, some notable differences emerged when Cerulli asked European private banks and independent wealth managers to identify what they expect to be the most in-demand passive fund strategies and exposures. “EUR bonds were the clear winner among private banks, with almost half as many references again as USD bonds. In contrast, wealth managers expect other bond strategies to be most popular, with little to choose between their expectations for thematic, corporate, and emerging market bonds", he reveals.

The research also shows that the COVID-19 pandemic-related market turmoil provided a significant stress test of the resilience of bond ETFs and their success triggered interest from investors who had not previously considered using ETFs in fixed income. In addition, a combination of regulatory tailwinds and unprecedented client demand has led to a surge in ESG investing.

"ETFs are also becoming an area of innovation in investment strategies, with thematic approaches that focus on sustainable food sources or specific climate change criteria, for example, being released in ETF format by default", concludes Cerulli.

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