European Thematic UCITS ETFs Report – September 2021
The Global X research team is pleased to release the European Thematic UCITS Report for September 2021. The report recaps Global X’s classification system for disruptive themes and the thematic ETFs that track them. It also provides industry-level analysis of thematic investing ETFs, looking at new launches and closures, assets under management (AUM) movements, and fund flows.
European Thematic UCITS ETF Landscape – September 2021 Recap
At the end of September 2021, there were 70 thematic UCITS ETFs totalling US$38bn in assets under management (AUM), decreasing 3.9% on the month. Themes in the physical environment category recorded the largest monthly decrease of AUMs in September (6.5%), followed by disruptive technologies (3.0%), and people & demographics (0.8%) themes
In September, UCITS Thematic ETFs recorded US$475m of net inflows, after attracting US$559m in August
- Connectivity themes continued to attract the largest net inflows this month (US$197m), with the bulk of net new inflows going into emerging market internet themes (US$176m) as investors likely see buying opportunities in Asian assets amid regulatory-led selloff
- Resource scarcity themes recorded strong net inflows on the month (US$131m) after the US Department of Energy released its Solar Futures Study examining the role solar could play in completely decarbonising the grid by 2050. The report found that the US could generate as much as 37% of its electricity from solar by 2035 and 44% by 2050, up from about 3% today
- E-commerce saw significant net inflows of US$103m this month, as online retailers are preparing for the holiday season which is the busiest period of the year for online sellers
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 categorising 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 materialisation 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.
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 39 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 categorisation process seeks to find the best fit for a specific ETF, analysing 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.
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.
This document is not intended to be, or does not constitute, investment research