Exchange-traded funds are on their way to $5 trillion in assets, a path that will travel around the globe as more nations dive into the increasingly popular investment vehicle, according to a study released Monday.
Asset managers responding to a PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis of the industry believe that lofty mark will be attained as soon as 2020. Even as growth begins to taper in the U.S., experts see untapped reservoirs around the world.
"The ETF market is a fast-growing business with many appealing qualities. It is also undergoing some transformative changes that will make it much bigger and more competitive within a few years," the study's authors said. "The highest rates of growth are likely to be found in less mature markets. Asian investors have had access to ETFs for some time, but are only now adopting them in greater numbers."
GIven the rate of recent growth, the estimate from survey respondents doesn't seem overly ambitious.
The $2 trillion industry has exploded, adding about $380 billion over the past two years, according to ETF.com, which is hosting theInsideETFs conference in Hollywood, Florida, an event expected to draw 1,900 people.
"We're assuming the construct doesn't change," Nigel Bradshaw, a partner at PwC, and member of the firm's editorial board, told CNBC.com. "We're being very conservative."