BMO’s Farsighted ETF Vision
Canada’s second largest publicly-traded fund company CI Financial likes to see itself as an industry pioneer that consistently anticipates and responds to the changing needs of the marketplace. Remember the CI Pacific fund, Segregated Funds, and Sector Funds concepts that CI revolutionized? However, CI missed the boat on ETF funds, as did TD Bank, because they finally realized that the ETF arena is where money will be pouring in for the next several decades, and where another player BMO is already reaping benefits from its farsighted vision that made BMO enter the ETF arena in 2009.
CI enters the ETF arena by acquiring First Asset Investment Management, which has $3 billion in assets under management and $1.6 billion of that is in active ETFs. BMO’s ETF assets under management are already staying high at nearly $24 billion, making it Canada’s second largest ETF provider after iShares.
And TD? It will be entering the ETF arena as the 3rd bank player (after BMO and RBC) in early 2016. TD hasn’t revealed much detail yet about its ETFs, but it was widely expected that, like CI, TD would have had no choice but to enter the ETF marketplace. However, the difference between CI and TD is that TD already attempted to enter the ETF marketplace in the past (in 2001), but failed to keep up its pace due to unexpected low trading volumes.
Things have changed since then. The Canadian ETF sector has come a long way and is currently sitting with $87 billion under management with 12 players. The growth potential of ETF industry cannot be ignored anymore and CI and TD made the right delayed call to enter the marketplace. Here is a simple example of how BMO rapidly increased its AUM by acting ahead of everyone else.
BMO ETF AUM (Asset Under Management)
2009 – Start
2010 September – $1 billion
2011 April – $2 billion
2011 September – $3 billion
2012 January – $4 billion
2012 March – $5 billion
2012 August – $7 billion
2013 March – $10 billion
2015 November – Nearly 24 billion
So what does it mean to have more players for Canadian investors? More competition, wider selections, more choices, broader distribution channels, and yes, lower costs. As the ETF sector is maturing and going through tremendous growth in Canada, expect to see more players putting their feet in in the days to come.
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