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A man checks stock indexes on a screen of a bank in Milan, Italy, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011. (Luca Bruno/AP)
A man checks stock indexes on a screen of a bank in Milan, Italy, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011. (Luca Bruno/AP)

Canada's rapid ETF growth continued in 2011 Add to ...

Canadians can’t get enough of exchange traded funds. In 2011, asset growth hit 13 per cent, pushing the total figure now invested in ETFs to $43-billion, according to National Bank Financial.

While the latest annual jump isn’t as large as the few years prior, it was still an impressive feat considering that the ETF market is becoming more mature. NBF analysts attributed the continued growth to investors seeking income and safety, and that shows in the top selling ETFs, which included covered call strategies and bond funds. Conversely, commodity ETFs that centre on crude and natural gas saw the biggest outflows last year.

Ranked by sales, iShares’ S&P/TSX 60 Index Fund amassed the most growth in 2011, bringing in $902-million, followed by BMO’s Covered Call Canadian Banks ETF, which brought in $703-million. The biggest outflows came from Horizons BetaPro’s NYMEX Crude Oil Bull Plus, which lost $143-million.

As for types of ETFs, equity funds continue to dominate, but fixed income funds are now playing a more important role. About $27-million of the $43-million total is stashed in equity ETFs, while around $14-million is now in fixed-income products.

As for top sellers, BMO products took the cake last year, just edging out BlackRock, according to NBF. BMO sold $2.553-billion while BlackRock sold $2.552-billion. Claymore, which was just bought by BlackRock, sold $1.5-billion.

But be cautious with these numbers from the different ETF providers. People in the industry say there are a lot of ways to skew your total. For instance, there are claims that BMO will dump iShares ETFs from their mutual funds and then substitute them with their own ETFs, thereby bumping their own sales. These claims are refuted by BMO, but the bank does note that it created mutual funds that are comprised only of BMO ETFs.

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