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Thematic ETF Report Q4 2019

Global X ETFs

Contributor:
Global X ETFs
Visit: Global X ETFs

By: Andrew Little & Pedro Palandrani

Continuing the tradition of last quarter’s inaugural Thematic ETF Report, the Global X research team is pleased to release the Q4 2019 edition. The report recaps Global X’s classification system for disruptive themes and the thematic ETFs that track them. Further, the report provides industry-level analysis of the number of ETFs in the growing thematic space, new launches and closures, and trends in assets under management (AUM).

Click here to download the Thematic ETF Report Q4 2019. 

Thematic ETF Landscape – Q4 Recap

As of the end of Q4 2019, thematic ETFs only represented 0.6% of the over $4.4 trillion in AUM in the US ETF industry. Yet, it’s proving to be a fast-growing space, with 121 thematic ETFs and $27.8 billion in AUM in the aggregate. Thematic ETFs saw $326.7 million in net inflows during the quarter and overall AUM for the space grew by $2.7 billion (11%), boosted by performance. Dominant growth over value and a strong showing in the tech and health care sectors contributed to these gains.

During Q4, there were four single-theme ETF launches across four different themes: cybersecurity, gaming and esports, sustainable foods, and autonomous/electric vehicles. In addition, a multi-theme, fund of funds ETF launched with primary exposure to technology-related themes. From an AUM perspective, Disruptive Technology-related themes saw the most growth on an absolute basis ($2.0B), followed by Physical Environment ($0.6B) and People & Demographics ($0.2B) related themes.

Introducing Global X’s Thematic Classification System

Global X’s research team established a thematic classification system that provides a consistent framework for identifying disruptive themes and categorizing the thematic ETF space. Often, we have seen conflicting definitions of thematic investing in the media and financial world, which leads to confusion about which ETFs are thematic and what themes they are tracking. With the introduction of this classification system, we hope to provide more clarity around disruptive themes and their related ETFs.

Defining Thematic Investing

Global X defines thematic investing as the process of identifying powerful disruptive macro-level trends and the underlying investments that stand to benefit from the materialization of those trends.

By nature, thematic investing is a long term, growth-oriented strategy, that is typically unconstrained geographically or by traditional sector/industry classifications, has low correlation to other growth strategies, and invests in relatable concepts.

Notably, thematic investing does not consist of ESG, values-based, or policy-driven strategies, unless they otherwise represent a disruptive structural trend (e.g. climate change). Further, funds that adhere to traditional sector or industry classifications, or that are used primarily to gain exposure to cyclical trends (e.g. currencies, valuations, inflation) are not considered thematic. Finally, alternative asset classes, such as listed infrastructure, MLPs, and ubiquitous commodities are not considered thematic.

Classifying Themes

Global X’s thematic classification system consists of four layers of classifications: 1) Categories; 2) Mega-Themes; 3) Themes; and 4) Sub-Themes, with each layer becoming sequentially narrower in its focus.

‘Categories’ is the broadest layer and represents three fundamental drivers of disruption: exponential advancements in technology (Disruptive Technology), changing consumer habits and demographics (People & Demographics), and the evolving physical landscape (Physical Environment).

One layer down are ‘Mega-Themes,’ which serve as a foundation to multiple transformative forces that are causing substantial changes in a common area. Conceptually, Mega-Themes are a collection of more narrowly targeted Themes. For example, Big Data is a Mega-Theme that consists of Machine/Deep Learning, Cybersecurity, Quantum Computing, and Cloud/Edge Computing.

Further down, we identify ‘Themes’ as the specific areas of transformational disruption that are driving technology forward, changing consumer demands, or impacting the environment. There are currently 34 themes in the classification system.

‘Sub-Themes’ are more niche areas, such as specific applications of themes or upstream forces that are driving themes forward.

Thematic ETFs can target a specific category, mega-theme, theme, or sub-theme. Our categorization process seeks to find the best fit for a specific ETF, analyzing its methodology, holdings, and stated objectives. The thematic classification system is reviewed quarterly to consider new potential categories, mega-themes, themes, or sub-themes. As a new ETF launches or changes its strategy, its classification is evaluated immediately.

Conclusion

In an uncharted era of new technologies disrupting existing paradigms, demographics reshaping the needs of the world’s population, shifting consumer behaviors forcing changes to existing business models, and dramatic changes in our physical environment, we find that there is a growing need for a consistent framework to track these themes and the investment vehicles providing access to them.

Originally Posted on Janaury 17, 2020 – Thematic ETF Report Q4 2019

The Global X Thematic Classification System is based on the expertise, views, and opinions of the Global X Thematic Classification Committee and are subject to change.

Global X defines thematic investing as the process of identifying powerful disruptive macro-level trends and the underlying investments that stand to benefit from the materialization of those trends. By nature, thematic investing is a long term, growth-oriented strategy, that is typically unconstrained geographically or by traditional sector/industry classifications, has low correlation to other growth strategies, and invests in relatable concepts.

The process of identifying themes consists of three inexorable principles:

1) There must be high conviction that the theme will materialize and have a meaningful impact on segments of the economy or markets. Often this is due to observable structural changes in technology, demographics, consumer behavior, or the physical environment, but can also be influenced by other factors.

2) A theme must be investable, meaning there are publicly traded companies that provide exposure to the concept. Ideally, the group of companies is broad, have high liquidity, and attribute a substantial portion of their business operations (revenues, assets, research & development) to the theme.

3) A theme must be expected to express itself over a medium to long-term time horizon, generally considered to be five years or longer. A longer-term time horizon makes market timing less of a factor in the success of identifying a theme.

Notably, and taking into consideration the principles above, thematic investing does not consist of ESG, values-based, or policy-driven strategies, unless they otherwise represent a disruptive structural trend (e.g. climate change). Further, funds that adhere to traditional sector or industry classifications, or that are used primarily to gain exposure to cyclical trends (e.g. currencies, valuations, inflation) are not considered thematic. Finally, alternative asset classes, such as listed infrastructure, MLPs, and ubiquitous commodities are not considered thematic. We recognize that these exclusions may differ from other third-party definitions of thematic investing, but it is consistent with, and core to, Global X’s thematic classification system and process.

Based on the definition and principles of thematic investing above, Global X has established a thematic classification system that seeks to identify powerful themes and organize them by common traits and drivers.  The system consists of four layers of classifications: 1) Categories; 2) Mega-Themes; 3) Themes; and 4) Sub-Themes, with each layer becoming sequentially narrower in its focus.

‘Categories’ is the broadest layer and represents three fundamental drivers of disruption: exponential advancements in technology (Disruptive Technology), changing consumer habits and demographics (People & Demographics), and the evolving physical landscape (Physical Environment). One layer down are ‘Mega-Themes,’ which serve as a foundation to multiple transformative forces that are causing substantial changes in a common area. Conceptually, Mega-Themes are a collection of more narrowly targeted Themes. For example, Big Data is a Mega-Theme that consists of Machine/Deep Learning, Cybersecurity, Quantum Computing, and Cloud/Edge Computing. Further down, we identify ‘Themes’ as the specific areas of transformational disruption that are driving technology forward, changing consumer demands, or impacting the environment. ‘Sub-Themes’ are more niche areas, such as specific applications of themes or upstream forces that are driving themes forward.

The number and categories, mega-themes, themes, and sub-themes is expected to evolve over time as new drivers of structural changes emerge or fade. Such decisions will be made by the Global X Thematic Classification Committee (“the committee”) and take into account internal and external research and data about potential themes.

The ETF industry consists of many funds seeking to provide exposure to categories, mega-themes, themes, or sub-themes identified within the thematic classification system. The Global X Thematic Classification Committee first evaluates the entire universe of US-listed ETFs to identify which qualify as thematic ETFs, based on Global X’s definition of thematic investing and the stated objectives, methodology, and holdings of each ETF. Next, the committee identifies the best fit for each thematic ETF within the classification system, by further analyzing a fund’s methodology, holdings, and stated objectives. When a new ETF launches or an existing ETF changes its strategy, its classification is evaluated promptly by the committee, and any changes are published in the next quarterly Thematic ETF Report.

While occasionally an ETF may engage in multiple mega-themes, themes, or sub-themes, its classification is determined based on the definition that most closely describes the true nature of the ETF.

While an ETF may be classified within a certain category, mega-theme, theme, or sub-theme, Global X does not give any assurances that the ETF provides good and accurate exposure to the specific theme it is targeting. For example, an ETF may target a particular theme, but have very broad exposure, including firms that have low relevance or economic exposure to the specified theme.

The thematic classification system is reviewed quarterly by the Global X Thematic Classification committee to consider new potential categories, mega-themes, themes, or sub-themes. Changes in the classification will be announced at the time of release of the following quarterly Thematic ETF Report.

As a new ETF launches or changes its strategy, its classification is evaluated promptly by the committee, and published at the time of release of the Thematic ETF Report. In the case of change in an ETF strategy/methodology, holdings, or stated objectives, the thematic classification system will promptly incorporate or drop the ETF in regards into its respective classification, maintaining the history of assets under management (AUM) of the Fund.

These materials have been prepared solely for informational purposes based upon information generally available to the public and from sources believed to be reliable. The completeness of the Global X Thematic ETF Report is done on a best efforts basis at the point in time with the data available to Global X as of the time of its publication. The inclusion of a Fund in this framework reflects the view of Global X alone. Global X makes no guarantee that this framework is complete nor inclusive of all ETFs in their view of their respective issuer.

Global X accepts requests for reviews or appeals for any ETFs. Please contact Global X at research@globalxetfs.com, and the appeal will be considered in a timely manner. There are no guarantees that an appeal will result in a change in the ETF’s classification.

The Thematic ETF Report, including its thematic classification system, fall under the supervision of the Global X Thematic Classification committee. This committee consists of members from Global X’s research and product teams who have extensive knowledge and familiarity with thematic investing and the ETF industry. The objective of the committee is to ensure, in a best efforts basis, a definition, classification, and identification of the universe of thematic ETFs. The committee meets at least quarterly to review the classification system, as well as on an ad-hoc basis to review new ETF launches or ETFs that change their strategy.

No content contained in these materials or any part thereof (“Content”) may be modified, reverse engineered, reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of Global X. The Content shall not be used for any unlawful or unauthorized purposes.  Global X does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of the Content and is not responsible for any errors or omissions, regardless of the cause, for the results obtained from the use of the Content.

THE CONTENT IS PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS. GLOBAL X AND ITS AFFILIATES DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE OF THE CONTENT.

In no event shall Global X or its affiliates be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, incidental, exemplary, compensatory, punitive, special or consequential damages, costs, expenses, legal fees, or losses (including, without limitation, lost income or lost profits and opportunity costs) in connection with any use of the Content even if advised of the possibility of such damages.”

For more information on Global X, please contact research@globalxetfs.com. For access to Global X Thematic Classification System – Methodology please click here.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Narrowly focused investments may be subject to higher volatility. There is no guarantee that the Funds will achieve their stated objectives.

Carefully consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors, charges, and expenses before investing. This and additional information can be found in the Funds’ summary or full prospectus, which may be obtained by calling 1.888.493.8631, or by visiting globalxetfs.com. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Disclosure: Global X ETFs

Carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risk factors, charges and expenses before investing. This and additional information can be found in the Fund’s full or summary prospectus, which may be obtained by calling 1-888-GX-FUND-1 (1.888.493.8631), or by visiting globalxfunds.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Disclosure: Interactive Brokers

Information posted on IBKR Traders’ Insight that is provided by third-parties and not by Interactive Brokers does NOT constitute a recommendation by Interactive Brokers that you should contract for the services of that third party. Third-party participants who contribute to IBKR Traders’ Insight are independent of Interactive Brokers and Interactive Brokers does not make any representations or warranties concerning the services offered, their past or future performance, or the accuracy of the information provided by the third party. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

This material is from Global X ETFs and is being posted with permission from Global X ETFs. The views expressed in this material are solely those of the author and/or Global X ETFs and IBKR is not endorsing or recommending any investment or trading discussed in the material. This material is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. To the extent that this material discusses general market activity, industry or sector trends or other broad based economic or political conditions, it should not be construed as research or investment advice. To the extent that it includes references to specific securities, commodities, currencies, or other instruments, those references do not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold such security. This material does not and is not intended to take into account the particular financial conditions, investment objectives or requirements of individual customers. Before acting on this material, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.

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