STATE STREET Global Advisors launched the first exchange-traded index fund in 1993 with the introduction of SPDR S&P 500 ETF. As of mid-2018, the fund had some $270 billion in assets and was easily the largest ETF.
Still, if anything, State Street’s SPDR family of ETFs has been playing catch-up in recent years. In 2000, the iShares group of ETFs, then owned by Barclays Global Investors and now part of BlackRock, was launched. Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign that saw a slew of new funds introduced, iShares quickly grabbed significant market share and today ranks as the largest manager of ETFs.
Reluctantly, Vanguard Group followed suit in 2001 with its own lineup of ETFs, which were based on the firm’s existing collection of index mutual funds. BlackRock’s iShares, State Street’s SPDR ETFs and Vanguard are now the three largest managers of ETFs, though a host of smaller players have also entered the market. WisdomTree has a broad selection of funds that weight stocks by their earnings and dividends. Invesco offers a slew of ETFs focused on narrow industry sectors. Charles Schwab has a relatively small collection of stock and bond funds, most with very low annual expenses.
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