Asset management firms have been quick to bring new exchange-traded funds, ever increasingly popular, to market -- but many of them have been stymied by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has been extremely slow to approve them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In fact, there are 23 ETF applications currently awaiting approval at the SEC, some of which may contain dozens of individual funds, and the 12 new ETFs that ProFunds introduced last month first filed their registration statements with the Commission five years ago.

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