The ETF market is crowded, and advisors are looking for products that either fall into particular niches, or are low-cost core holdings. Either way, sponsors are working hard behind the scenes to differentiate their products. Those that do are seeing inflows.

Last year, three smaller operations among the top 20 ETF shops showed the biggest gains in assets under management: VanEck (AUM up 57.43%), Northern Trust’s FlexShares (up 55.08%) and Schwab (up 50.46%), according to Morningstar.

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