Millennials and exchange-traded funds have grown up together.
Investors plunked down $66 billion in U.S. ETFs in 2000, according to the Investment Company Institute. Now U.S. ETFs hold more than $2.2 trillion in assets.
The rise of ETFs has coincided with millennials, people age 18 to 35, becoming investors.
"Millennials are more amped up about ETFs than any other generation," said Heather Fischer, Charles Schwab's vice president of ETF platform management.
She based her assertion on data from Schwab's 2016 ETF Investor Survey, released at the Morningstar ETF conference last week in Chicago. Schwab is the fifth-largest ETF provider in the United States, with $52 billion in ETF assets, according to ETF.com, and has been an intense fee war in recent years with other big ETF companies, including BlackRock's iShares ($929 billion), State Street Global Advisors ($461 billion) and index fund giant Vanguard Group ($579 billion).
Individual investor adoption of ETFs continues to steadily rise among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers, according to the Schwab survey, which polled more than 1,000 investors between the ages of 25 and 75 with at least $25,000 in investable assets. But the biggest move to ETFs has been among millennials.
Investors now allocate 22.5 percent of their total portfolios to the ETFs, compared to 16 percent in 2012. Among millennials, the average ETF allocation is 35.8 percent.