As you’ve probably heard by now, the exchange-traded fund industry is booming. For sure, it’s not all sunshine and seashells when you consider the healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your perspective) rate of fund closures. But that’s being offset by new products, and overall asset levels in ETFs (driven in part by rising share prices) continue to grow significantly both in the U.S. and globally.

Brown Brothers Harriman, a provider of custodial and administrative services for ETF providers, today released a report looking at ETF usage in three key markets: the U.S., Europe and China. It found that the global ETF complex was a $6.3 trillion industry at year-end 2019, with an annual growth rate of 32%.

The U.S. represents the lion’s share of the ETF market with roughly 70% of overall assets, or more than $4.4 trillion. While China’s $177 billion in ETF assets represent just 4% of the pie, its large, active investor base makes it a potential up-and-comer in this space.

The BBH survey involved 300 institutional investors, financial advisors and fund managers including 100 in the U.S., 100 in Europe and 100 in greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan). Respondents comprised  institutional investors (23%), registered investment advisors (49%) and fund managers (28%). All respondents invest in ETFs and are aware of their institution’s overall investment strategy.

This survey contains reams of data, so we’ll stick to the highlights:

• 69% of global ETF investors plan to grow their ETF allocation in the next 12 months, an increase of 8 percentage points from BBH’s 2019 survey.

• Active and low-volatility ETFs tied for first with U.S. investors as the products they’d like to see more of in the marketplace. The was followed by core index and smart beta products.

• The Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent approval of several semi-transparent, actively managed ETF structures will likely stimulate interest in active ETFs. In that vein, 62% of surveyed U.S. investors plan to increase their allocation to active ETFs in the next 12 months.

• Smart beta ETFs hit a record $835 billion in assets in 2019, and 54% of global investors expect to raise their exposure to smart beta ETFs in 2020. That’s 10 percentage points more than last year.

• For a while it seemed that ESG ETFs were more hype than asset flows. But flows into this category picked up last year, and in five years it’s expected that 30% of global ETF investors will allocate 11% to 20% of their portfolio to ESG ETFs. And it’s projected that 12% of U.S. ETF investors will allocate more than 50% of their portfolios to ESG ETFs in the next five years, far exceeding the rates in Europe and China.

• Size matters: Just 12% of investors would buy a new ETF that has less than $25 million in assets.

• With thematic ETFs, global ETF investors are most interested in products focused on internet/technology (27%), robotics and artificial intelligence (19%) and environment/sustainability (18%). Cannabis ETFs, at 4%, are dead last among seven thematic categories.

• Fixed-income ETFs garnered more new money than U.S. equity ETFs last year among U.S. investors, marking the first time that happened. Recent global volatility (trade wars, geopolitical concerns, etc.) make fixed income a shelter from the storm.

• The U.S. market experienced more than 100 ETF closures in 2019, which was slightly off the prior year's record number. “We expect existing ETF issuers will continue to trim under-performing ETFs to manage costs, while new managers coming to market will need to work closely with their intermediary partners to differentiate in a crowded playing field,” according to BBH’s survey report, which was done in partnership with