Wall Street’s main watchdog is cutting back regulatory red tape for exchange-traded funds, potentially triggering faster growth for the $4 trillion market.

After more than a decade of wrangling, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this autumn eased constraints that the industry argues have slowed the process of issuing new ETFs. Specifically, the SEC eliminated the need for ETF providers to seek a special order from the agency before funds can be sold to investors.

“As the ETF industry continues to grow in size and importance, particularly to Main Street investors, it is important to have a consistent, transparent and efficient regulatory framework that eliminates regulatory hurdles while maintaining appropriate investor protections,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement.

The changes represent a delayed but nonetheless major win for the ETF industry, which has long complained about the wait and cost associated with getting SEC sign-off on new funds. The move, which is focused on straightforward ETFs based on things such as the S&P 500 and bond indexes, may also add more fuel to the global shift into passively managed funds.

Historically, prospective issuers have had to seek a special order from the SEC—an often expensive and time-consuming process—to exempt their ETF products from legislation passed during World War II. But with money increasingly flowing into passive products, which is how most ETFs are classified, major players including BlackRock Inc. have joined smaller funds in arguing that the products should get their own set of rules.

“The SEC ruling will provide an even playing field for issuers,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF research at CFRA Research.

Fixed-income ETFs could also get a boost as the new rule extends a provision that makes it easier to run funds that buy hard-to-find, or less liquid, securities—a particular challenge in the debt markets. Until now, only early adopters could use so-called custom baskets, which give issuers more discretion over which securities they switch in and out of their funds. Granting that permission more widely could spur new bond funds and help existing managers trade more efficiently.

The streamlined process will still require firms wishing to list more complex products to seek approvals through the more drawn-out approach the regulator currently uses. For example, so-called leveraged funds that hold derivatives to juice more returns from their strategy won’t get an easier pass.

The SEC also added new obligations for asset managers, who must now publish more information about trading costs associated with their funds.

Rosenbluth said the regulator’s move amounted to an acknowledgment of the significance of the ETF market. “It’s a milestone noteworthy of celebration,” he said.