European Passive Investments 2021

Achieving Success in a Growing Segment

Assess the Overall State of Passive Investing in Europe

  • Gain an in-depth analysis of ETF issuers’ and index fund providers’ product development and an assessment of current and expected demand from various distribution channels
  • Assess the passive ESG product universe in Europe, including how providers are positioning products for investors
  • Evaluate the European thematic ETF segment, with a look into how product demand is evolving, as well as ETF issuers’ product development efforts


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Ryan Hanratty

Ryan Hanratty

Account Manager


This report assesses the overall state of passive investing in Europe, with a focus on the exchange-traded fund (ETF) and index fund markets. It examines key industry trends, ETF issuers’ and index fund providers’ product development activities, and current and expected demand across various retail and institutional channels (such as independent wealth managers and private banks, pension funds, and insurers) and seeks to identify how players can capitalize on investors’ shift toward index funds and ETFs. The report provides insights into both demand and product development, as well as key distribution challenges and opportunities in the main asset management markets in Europe.

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A Note from the Author

The European Passive Investment Market Surpasses €2 Trillion in Assets

Fabrizio Zumbo

Fabrizio Zumbo


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Fabrizio Zumbo

Fabrizio Zumbo


Fabrizio leads the European Retail/Wholesale Asset Management research practice, which focuses on analyzing asset management product development trends, investment, operational and marketing strategies, market and distribution dynamics, regulatory changes, and performing market and competitive intelligence in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, and the Nordics.

Prior to joining Cerulli, Fabrizio served as a Lead Industry Analyst at State Street in London and as a Senior Analyst & Research Editor for the PwC’s Global Market Research Centre in Luxembourg. Previously, he carried out several field-based research projects in emerging and frontier markets for international market research and economic consulting firms, spending almost five years performing economic and industry analyses in several countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Full biography here.

As demand for passive investment products continues, managers will need robust and diversified value propositions to compete in the market. Two immediate areas of focus should be passive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments and thematic investments, according to our latest research.

Sustainability is playing a large role in the European passive fund landscape. Net sales of ESG exchange-traded fund (ETF) assets were almost triple the previous year’s total volume. In the next 12-24 months, 76% of the index fund providers expect significant demand for ESG index funds from institutional investors; 62% expect the same level of demand from private banks. 85% of the ETF issuers Cerulli surveyed across Europe expect significant demand for ESG ETFs.

At the same time, European thematic ETFs had a strong 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic and other global challenges diverted investors’ attention to long-term trends such as technology and sustainability. ETF Issuers believe that a major driver of the sector’s success is due to increased adoption by private banks and independent wealth managers. 51% of the ETF issuers believe that investors’ increasing focus on the need to tackle specific global issues is a major factor.

Our latest report, European Passive Investments 2021: Achieving Success in a Growing Segment, offers managers insight into the barriers to growth, in-depth coverage of demand and product development efforts, and analysis of distribution challenges and opportunities for passive investments across seven key markets—the U.K., Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, and Sweden. If you are interested in passive investing in Europe, this research offers important strategic insight to assist your product development and distribution strategies. Please reach out to our team to learn more about it.

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