The ETF business is booming -- assets under management jumped 25 percent last month to a record $1.4 trillion. In fact, it's one of the few areas in the financial services business that is growing robustly.
ETFs track indexes and provide broad diversification, similar to mutual funds, though inherent differences exist between the two products. The ETF space represents only one-tenth of the mutual fund industry, but ETFs' traction is growing as retail investors embrace them as a fast, efficient and economical way to trade.
So far in 2013, fund flows for international equity, U.S. equity and international fixed income are leading the charts.
Stock ETFs, in particular, have gained momentum, attracting $29 billion in assets in January, on top of $121 billion last year. At this rate, stock ETFs are on track to nearly triple last year's inflows.
Both stock ETFs and mutual funds saw four-consecutive weeks of inflows in January, according to ICI. However, stock mutual funds shed more than $152 billion in assets last year.