Eye on the Market

What Are The ETF Preferences of Older vs. Younger Investors?

Millennia are more interested in non-traditional ETFs, while Boomers gravitate to dividend and industry-specific ETFs

August 29, 2016 — NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–E*TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC) has announced results from the most recent wave of StreetWise, E*TRADE’s quarterly tracking study of experienced investors.

  • Results show how exchange-traded fund (ETF) preferences vary by age:
  • Millennials are more likely than Boomers to show interest in a range of less mainstream ETFs, including commodity, style, and foreign currency ETFs.
  • Boomers prefer dividend ETFs over any other type.

The top three ETFs for the total surveyed investor population are U.S. market index ETFs, dividend ETFs, and sector- and industry-specific ETFs.

“The strong interest in U.S. market index ETFs suggests investors have faith in the domestic markets post-Brexit,” said Rich Messina, SVP of Investment Product Management at E*TRADE Financial. “While U.S. market index ETFs are by far the most popular choice, investors are exploring additional asset classes in search of yield, downside protection, and income generating positions.”

Mr. Messina offered the following observations on what is driving investors towards certain ETF types:

Dividend ETFs are popular for income: In a market characterized by uncertainty, geopolitical headwinds, and low fixed income yields, investors of all ages are turning to dividend ETFs as a possible source of income streams.

Non-traditional ETFs gain traction as investors search for yield: In today’s unprecedented low interest rate environment, investors hunting for yield are stalking an increasingly elusive prey, as traditional fixed income yields continue to be under pressure. Investors with larger risk appetites, like some Millennials, are looking to take advantage of lower prices in places like commodity and bond ETFs.

ETFs focused on non-cyclical sectors can be used to mitigate risk: Sector-specific ETFs such as utilities, consumer staples, and REITs are seen as non-cyclical sectors that can help protect against market volatility, which can be particularly attractive to older investors nearing retirement.

Referenced Data

In what types of ETFs of are you most interested?


AGE: 25-34

AGE: 35-54

AGE: 55+

U.S. market index ETFs50%48%53%49%
Dividend ETFs45%39%43%51%
Sector- and industry-specific ETFs32%23%30%41%
Commodity ETFs19%26%19%16%
Bond ETFs18%26%16%15%
Foreign market index ETFs15%16%18%13%
Style or market cap ETFs12%20%13%6%
Actively managed or smart beta ETFs12%13%13%10%
Leveraged ETFs10%12%10%9%
Foreign currency ETFs9%15%10%4%
Inverse ETFs8%10%7%6%
ETNs (Exchange-traded notes)5%7%6%3%
Derivative ETFs5%9%6%1%
Other (i.e. Vol ETFs, ETFs of ETFs, equal weight ETFs)3%2%3%3%
None of these9%4%7%14%
I don’t know10%8%12%10%
“Millennials” defined as age 25 – 34 // “Gen X” defined as age 35 – 54 // “Baby Boomers” defined as age 55+





Visit E*TRADE’s Newsroom for the full Q3’16 StreetWise study results.
E*TRADE helps investors balance today’s needs with tomorrow’s goals, through pioneering digital tools coupled with guidance online and from Financial Consultants. To learn more about E*TRADE’s trading and investing platforms and tools, visit etrade.com.
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About the Survey
This wave of the survey was conducted from July 2 to July 11 of 2016 among an online U.S. sample of 949 self-directed active investors who manage at least $10,000 in an online brokerage account. The survey has a margin of error of ±3.18 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. It was fielded and administered by ResearchNow. The panel is broken into thirds of active (trade more than once a week), swing (trade less than once a week but more than once a month) and passive (trade less than once a month). The panel is 65 percent male and 35 percent female with an even distribution across online brokerages, geographic regions, and age bands.
About E*TRADE Financial and Important Notices
E*TRADE Financial and its subsidiaries provide financial services, including online brokerage and banking products and services to retail customers. Specific business segments include Trading and Investing and Balance Sheet Management. Securities products and services, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, and ETFs are offered by E*TRADE Securities LLC (Member FINRA/SIPC). Managed Account Solutions are offered through E*TRADE Capital Management, LLC, an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bank products and services are offered by E*TRADE Bank, a Federal savings bank, Member FDIC, or its subsidiaries and affiliates. More information is available at www.etrade.com.
The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. ETFC-G
E*TRADE Financial, E*TRADE, and the E*TRADE logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of E*TRADE Financial Corporation.
© 2016 E*TRADE Financial Corporation. All rights reserved.
E*TRADE Financial Corporation and ResearchNow are separate companies that are not affiliated. E*TRADE Financial Corporation engages ResearchNow to program, field, and tabulate the study.
About ResearchNow
ResearchNow, a leading digital data collection provider, powers market research insights. They enable companies to listen to and interact with the world’s consumers and business professionals through online panels, as well as mobile, digital, and social media technologies. Their team operates in over 20 offices globally and is recognized as the market research industry’s leader in client satisfaction. They foster a socially-responsible culture by empowering their employees to give back. To find out more or begin a conversation, visit www.researchnow.com.