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Thematic ETFs ride the ESG crest
The Asset announces the winners of the Most Innovative ETF, Sustainability ETF, and Best ETF Mandate awards
6 May 2021 | The Asset

With about US$8 trillion of assets under management globally, the ETF market experienced strong growth in 2020 despite the pandemic. However, as more investors enter the market, the capability of rolling out innovative products that best suit investors’ diverse needs and follow market trends becomes crucial for ETF managers. 

Thematic ETFs was one of the major trends in 2020. In fact, investors’ interest in thematic ETFs has been growing over the past few years, and this momentum is expected to gather strength this year. According to a recent survey by Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), thematic ETFs are going mainstream, with 80% of global investors saying they will increase their allocation to thematic ETFs in 2021. ESG awareness is also growing. According to BBH, 36% of the new ETFs launched in Europe last year were ESG funds. 

Rolling out new products last year was not easy, and it is even harder to capture market opportunities and come up with unique structures and themes to meet the investment community’s demand. Innovation has never been more important for ETF providers given a competitive market that is full of opportunities. It is against this backdrop that The Asset announces the winners of the “Most Innovative ETF” award. 

Most Innovative ETF

The Asset recognizes the ETF products launched during the awards period that best demonstrate the ETF manager’s innovation capabilities. 



BetaShares Ethical Diversified ETF range

Launched in December 2020, BetaShares Ethical Diversified ETF range is an ETF fund of funds that consists of three products, which provide exposure to equity and fixed income securities in both local and global markets. It combines positive climate leadership screens with a broad set of ESG criteria. Over 75% of the underlying assets are ESG assets. 

Hong Kong

CICC Asset Management

CICC HKD Money Market ETF 

Launched in December 2020, CICC HKD Money Market ETF is the first active HKD Money Market ETF globally, and the first HKD active ETF listed in Hong Kong. Both listed and unlisted share classes are launched concurrently. With the unlisted unit class providing an additional distribution channel via the primary market, the product’s unique structure allows a complete set of investment options that cater for the diverse needs of the investing community. 

CSOP Asset Management

CSOP Hang Seng TECH Index ETF

Launched in August 2020, CSOP Hang Seng TECH Index ETF is the world's first ETF that tracks the Hang Seng TECH Index. On the first day of listing, the ETF recorded a daily turnover of HK$3.045 billion (US$392.6 million), marking the highest transaction volume on the first day of ETF listing in Hong Kong, surpassing the historical record of Tracker Fund’s listing day transaction of HK$2.86 billion back in 1999.  

Nikko Asset Management

Nikko AM E-Games Active ETF 

Launched in June 2020, Nikko AM E-Games Active ETF is the first actively managed ETF in Asia with a diversified portfolio in the online gaming industry and related business. Nikko Asset Management managed to capture opportunities in the online gaming industry, which has experienced strong growth amid Covid-related lockdowns and is expected to grow further in the coming years. 

Haitong International Asset Management

Haitong MSCI China A ESG ETF

Launched in October 2020, Haitong MSCI China A ESG ETF is the first broad ESG-themed ETF launched in Hong Kong. The product provides investor access to the China A-shares market with the benefits of an ESG filter. 


Nikko Asset Management


Launched in September 2020, Nikkei ESG-REIT ETF is the first Japanese ETF that aims to track the ESG REIT index, tapping the growing demand for responsible investments. The constituents of this ETF are weighted by market capitalization and adjusted by their ESG score provided by GRESB, an institutional-asset-owners-led non-profit organization founded to assess the ESG performance of real assets. 


Affin Hwang Asset Management

TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker

Launched in July 2020, TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker is a smart beta ETF that provides an alternative strategy to Malaysia investors. It is the first price momentum factor-driven strategy ETF in Malaysia. The products recorded a notable increase in their AUM during the awards period. 


CSOP Asset Management

ICBC CSOP FTSE Chinese Government Bond Index ETF 

Launched in September 2020, ICBC CSOP FTSE Chinese Government Bond Index ETF is the first ETF structured under the variable capital company structure in Singapore. It is also the first SGX-listed ETF investing directly in China onshore bond market, satisfying index followers and active investors’ asset allocation needs in investing into China onshore fixed income markets. 


Cathay Securities Investment Trust

Cathay Cyber Security ETF

Launched in April 2020, Cathay Cyber Security ETF is the first cybersecurity ETF in Taiwan. The product provides investors in Taiwan with a smart and simple way to track the performance of Nasdaq’s ISE Cyber Security Index, which covers companies actively involved in providing cybersecurity technology and services.

Sustainability ETF

On top of the innovative products, The Asset introduces a new category this year, the “Sustainability ETF” awards, to address the growing ESG awareness among investors especially in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In this category, we look into the ETF products with a track record of over one year, and recognize those that have a strong ESG focus. 

Two winners emerge from Taiwan: Fubon TWSE Corporate Governance 100 ETF launched in 2017 and Yuanta FTSE4Good TIP Taiwan ESG ETF launched in August 2019. Both products have maintained good performance and have caught the eyes of Taiwan investors, especially the younger generation. In China, new energy is one of the hot topics as the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The Asset recognizes Ping An Fund New Energy Vehicle ETF for continuing to capture investors’ interest in the growing new energy vehicle space. 

Best ETF Mandate

This award aims to recognize the remarkable mandates in which custodian banks provide outstanding services to ETF managers. 

Citic Securities

CCB Principal Asset Management

CCB Principal CSI All Share Investment Banking & Brokerage Index ETF 

This was one of the largest ETF mandates among securities firms in China in 2020. CCB Principal Asset Management rolled out CCB Principal CSI All Share Investment Banking & Brokerage Index ETF in June 2020, and the fund recorded 3 billion yuan (US$464 million) in AUM on listing day. Citic Securities provides custodian services to this product. 


CSOP Asset Management

ICBC CSOP FTSE Chinese Government Bond Index ETF

ICBC CSOP FTSE Chinese Government Bond Index ETF is a sub-fund under CSOP Investments VCC, a Singapore variable capital company fund structure. The ETF adopts a representative sampling strategy by investing in CIBM Direct via the Foreign Access Regime to deliver an investment performance that closely corresponds to the performance of the FTSE Chinese Government Bond Index. HSBC provides fund administration and custodian services to this product.  

Brown Brothers Harriman

CICC Asset Management

CICC HKD Money Market ETF

This is the second money market ETF that CICC Asset Management launched and the manager continues to choose Brown Brothers Harriman as the custodian bank. This product consists of both listed and unlisted share classes. 

For the list of ETF product and mandate winners, please click here

For the complete list of ETF Award winners, please click here

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