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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Even Vanguard and BlackRock Took a Flows Hit

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Even passive mutual fund and ETF inflows dwindled last month amid a volatile stock market. The flows slowdown hit most of the big fund firms.

Chicago-based investment research specialist Morningstar recently released its "Morningstar Direct Asset Flows Commentary: United States" report for February 2018. As per usual, the reported was penned by Alina Lamy, senior analyst of quantitative research. (An abridged version of the report is publicly accessible, while the full report with appendices is available to Morningstar Direct users.) This article draws on data from that report.

Vanguard still led the inflows pack in February with $11.605 billion in estimated net inflows, yet that's down nearly 65 percent from $32.799 billion in January. BlackRock regained second place with $8.548 billion in net February inflows, down from $22.246 billion in January. Other big winners in February included: DFA, $2.904 billion; Charles Schwab, $2.799 billion; and Capital Group's American Funds, $2.223 billion.

Proportionately, First Trust took the lead in February among the largest fund families, bringing in estimated net inflows equivalent to 1.55 percent of its AUM. Other relative winners in February included: Schwab, 1.53 percent; Harris' Oakmark, 1.13 percent; Goldman Sachs, 0.77 percent; and DFA, 0.71 percent.

On the flip side, February was a rough month for SSgA, which swung to $25.269 billion in estimated net outflows, more than any other fund firm and down from $28.554 billion in net inflows in January. Other big outflows sufferers in February included: T. Rowe Price, $3.692 billion; Franklin Templeton, $2.46 billion; Wells Fargo, $1.95 billion; and Invesco, $1.622 billion.

Proportionately among big fund firms, SSgA also had the roughest February, with estimated net outflows equivalent to 4.06 percent of its AUM. Other big sufferers last month included: Wells Fargo, 2.19 percent; Harbor, 1.68 percent; TCW, 1.6 percent; and Federated, 1.07 percent.

Industrywide, long-term active mutual funds suffered an estimated $12.943 billion in net outflows in February, down from $24.048 billion in net inflows in January. Money market fund inflows reversed again, to $42.812 billion in net inflows in February (from $47.881 billion in net outflows in January). And passive funds brought in a mere $5.253 billion in estimated net inflows in February, down nearly 95 percent from $104.076 billion in January.

Within long-term active mutual funds, international equity funds led the pack with $6.92 billion in estimated net inflows in February. Other winning categories last month included taxable bond funds, $3.972 billion, and commodities funds, $743 million.

Meanwhile, long-term active U.S. equity funds suffered estimated net outflows of $17.691 billion in February, down from $24.087 billion in January. Other net outflows suffering categories in February included: allocation funds, $2.823 billion; sector equity funds, $2.652 billion; muni bond funds, $1.351 billion; and liquid alts, $62 million. 

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