Exchange-traded funds may still be relatively unchartered territory to many retail investors, but they are predicted to infiltrate the mass market from the imminent actively managed ETF to the 401(k) marketplace in the coming years.

ETFs are being used in a wider variety of products, from 401(k)s to variable annuities to 529 college savings plans, according to a recent ETF report by Chicago-based marketing and research firm Mintel.

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