Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are definitely gaining wider appeal. But financial service providers, once happy to welcome predominantly institutional investors to these products, are now busily focusing efforts to entice long-term investors.

Barclays Global Investors of San Francisco, which currently sponsors 97 ETFs, estimates that roughly half of the investors in Barclays' iShares-branded ETFs are individual investors with a planned holding period of more than four years, noted Lee Kranefuss, chief executive officer of Barclays' intermediary and exchange-traded fund business.

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