The 20 largest fund flows in the first half of 2018 totaled more than $162 billion.
Passive investing was clearly the main attraction as 16 of the funds were either ETFs or index mutual funds. That appeared to be even more important than recent performance since the average return of these 20 funds over that same YTD time period was (barely) in the red at -.10%. The three-year performance was better, but not stellar, with an average of 6.2%.
One market observer, however, saw the positive side of the negative returns.
“Investors have a habit of chasing performance, so news that the top funds in cash inflow were not stellar performers on a year-to-date basis or over the past three years is a very welcome break from tradition,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.
The expense ratios were another positive for investors. Since most of these cash winners were passive funds, costs were low. Expense ratios averaged 25 basis points, and went as low as a once-unthinkable 4 basis points.
To use our favorite gauge on fund flows, consider the overall total. If $162 billion were a company’s annual revenue, it would rank #9 on the current Fortune 500 – more than JPMorgan, Bank of America or Wells Fargo. In fact, the only financial firm that would rank higher is Berkshire Hathaway.
Scroll through to see the 20 funds with the highest fund flows year-to-date. Funds with investment minimums higher than $100K were excluded, as were leveraged and institutional funds. We also show three-year returns, assets and, as usual, expense ratios for each fund. All data from Morningstar Direct.