SMSFs key in huge ETF growth

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SMSFs are still the key driver to surging ETF investor growth according to a new report that shows the number of ETF investors is up by 50% to more than 100,000.

The ETF report by BetaShares/Investment Trends shows that of the estimated 102,500 exchange-traded funds (ETF) investors, 46,000 investors held ETFs through self-managed super funds (SMSF).

This illustrates the importance of this investor class in driving industry growth, said BetaShares managing director, Alex Vynokur.

“One of the key reasons why investors set up their own SMSF is because they want greater control, they want to lower the cost, and have more transparency,” he said. “ETFs are very much associated with and known for these qualities, so it ticks all the boxes for SMSF clients.”

Vynokur said the huge surge in ETF growth in general (which reached $10 billion in funds under management at the end of 2013) comes from more recent education and understanding about how the funds work.

“A very significant part of [future] growth is going to come down to the increased rate of adoption by SMSFs and advisers,” he said.

The report showed that advisers using the funds in their practices have grown to 33%, which is the highest level to date.

But although 33,000 new ETF investors joined the market in 2013, the percentage of investors who said their adviser played a role in this investment remained unchanged at 26%.

Vynokur said this indicates that planners have a big opportunity ahead of them to get involved with their client’s ETF investment decisions.

“They can position themselves as experts and assist investors to make these decisions. One of the greatest barriers to the adoption of ETF usage is purely a lack of understanding.”

Education going forward needs to be innovative, particularly in the product development side of things, he said.

“What we’ve done on our side is launched a BetaShares blog which communicates on a regular basis with SMSF investors and advisors to explain exactly what ETFs are.”

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