In an already crowded field, Northern Trust Corp. is the latest financial-services company to try and make its mark in the exchange-traded fund business.

"We didn't want to be a 'me-to' ETF provider, introducing products similar to those already in the market," said Northern Trust Chief Investment Officer Steven Schoenfeld. He also pointed out that the company is receiving "good support" from the ETF industry.

However, there is stiff competition from other industry heavyweights such as Barclays Global Investors, The Vanguard Group, and State Street Corp.

Nevertheless, the Chicago-based company is hoping to compete by offering locally recognized indexes in foreign markets – particularly in the U.K, Japan, and Germany. Plans are also underway for more funds in places like Portugal and Israel.

In a May 15 investor note, Morgan Stanley analyst Paul Mazzilli wrote that "Although less-diversified than other international ETFs, single-country ETFs are usually diversified by companies and sectors."

Mazzilli said ETFs based on country-specific indexes may be attractive to investors interested in targeting exposure to specific countries and/or tailoring their portfolios to a unique group of countries.

Northern Trust is hoping the new ETFs will appeal to a broad base of investors, but it is much too soon to tell whether or not the new ETFs will be successful.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.