Top ETFs in America’s 401k Plans – 2013

We are pleased to announce our 2013 list of the the Top 20 Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) Distribution for the 401k and defined contribution industry.

“ETFs, in terms of their distribution in 401k plans, have increased in prevalence over the past couple of years as plan sponsors begin to better understand the benefits of including them on plan menus,” said Brooks Herman, Head of Data and Research at BrightScope. “The presumed risks of ETFs have been moderated and they’re now perceived as more transparent than many other instruments focused on long-term returns.”

Noteworthy findings since BrightScope’s last release of this list, June 2011:

  • Vanguard Total Bond Market maintains the top spot
  • SPDR S&P 500 has jumped to No. 2 from No. 13
  • The following were bumped from the Top 20: Vanguard Small Cap (VB), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM), Vanguard Growth (VUG), iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA), Vanguard Intermediate-Term Bond (BIV), Ultra QQQ ProShares (QLD), iShares Russell 2000 Growth Index (IWO), iShares Russell 2000 Value Index (IWN), iShares Barclays 7-10 Year Treasury (IEF), iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY), Vanguard Mid Cap (VO) and Vanguard Small Cap Value (VBR)
  • Those with an asterisk(*) below are new to the list

The Top 20 ETFs by total distribution:

1 Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND)
2 SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
3 iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
4 Vanguard Total International Stock (VXUS)*
5 iShares Russell 1000 Value Index (IWD)
6 iShares Core Total US Bond Market (AGG)*
7 iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index (IWF)
8 Vanguard S&P Small-Cap 600 Index (VIOO)*
9 iShares S&P 500 Index (IVV)*
10 Vanguard Small Cap Growth (VBK)
11 iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)*
12 Vanguard Value (VTV)*
13 iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)*
14 SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
15 Vanguard S&P 500 (VOO)*
16 iShares Russell Midcap Value Index (IWS)
17 iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (TIP)*
18 Vanguard REIT Index (VNQ)*
19 iPath Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return (DJP)*
20 iShares S&P MidCap 400 Index (IJH)*

This list is part of a series of rankings BrightScope will regularly publish to provide investment managers, mutual fund companies, investors, and others with more insight into the top funds and managers in the retirement marketplace. The proliferation of this critical information will dramatically increase the efficiency of the field and lead to lower cost plans and better outcomes for the 60 million Americans who depend on their 401k plan for retirement.

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