Quarterly Derivative Strategy ETF Commentary

Apr 19, 2024

The Global X Research Team is pleased to announce the March 2024 release of the Derivative Strategy ETF Report, in which we seek to examine the continuous growth of derivative-oriented strategies implemented within the ETF structure. The key takeaways below, as well as those highlighted within the report, recap Global X’s classification system for the derivative strategy ETF landscape. They also provide industry-level analysis of derivative strategy ETF investing through an investigation of changes in assets under management (AUM) and fund flows that signify potential trends.

Derivative Strategy ETF Landscape – March 2024 Key Takeaways

  • Assets under management (AUM) of U.S. listed, derivative strategy ETFs rose to $131B at the end of March 2024, representing a quarterly 1-year growth rate of 77%.1 This trajectory has been supported by a 39% increase in the number of derivative-based funds in operation over that time frame, to 424.2
  • In the first quarter, momentum in flows picked up, sequentially, to about $13.1B.3 This reflected sharp appreciation in flows geared toward the Derivative Income investment objective, which helped offset a decline and deceleration of Performance Enhancement and Risk Management flows, respectively.4
  • Derivative ETFs with a Risk Management investment objective were able to generate improved assets under management despite fund flows decelerating relative to the fourth quarter of 2023. Indeed, with Collar, Inflation Hedge, and Spread strategies all experiencing weakening or negative flows, quarter to quarter, it seems likely that most of the assets gathered within this portion of the space stemmed from market price appreciation rather than new asset acquisition.

The Global X Derivative Strategy Classification System is based on the expertise, views, and opinions of the Global X Derivative Strategy Classification Committee and are subject to change. 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 materialization 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.

The process to identify a derivative-based strategy incorporates three main principles:

  1. The product must utilize derivatives as a core component of its investment strategy. This does not necessarily mean that derivatives must make up the majority of the ETF’s portfolio. However, derivatives must serve a key purpose in achieving the investment objective stated in the ETF’s prospectus.
  2. The derivative-based strategy can be utilized over a long-term period from the standpoint that it is able to be used tactically, for temporary exposure to express a market view, or within a strategic allocation. Strategies whose core objective is to be a daily trading tool will most likely not be considered for inclusion.
  3. The strategy must use derivatives as a means to achieve 1 or more of the 3 main use cases of derivatives by either buying or selling short a specific type of derivative:
    1. Risk Management – These are strategies with an objective of achieving higher risk-adjusted returns by lowering overall portfolio volatility with the usage of derivatives.
    2. Income – Strategies that utilize derivatives as a core investment to potentially achieve high income for its investors.
    3. Performance Enhancement – Strategies that use derivatives to enhance the upside potential for capital appreciation, typically increasing the economic leverage used within a portfolio.

Taking the above principles into account, it should be noted that the derivative-based classification system does not consist of leveraged/inverse ETFs whose core objective is to track an index that rebalances daily. This goes against the 2nd principle stated above regarding the strategy being a long-term investment. Based on the definitions and principles described above, the derivative-based classification system is organized into multiple layers for a more refined understanding as to the objective of each strategy. Note that some options strategies can be utilized for multiple purposes, whether that be for Income, Risk Management, or Performance Enhancement, resulting in some categories appearing more than one time.  The system consists of four layers of classification: (1) Derivative Objective (2) Derivative Strategy (3) Derivative Overlay and; (4) Derivative Tactic.

‘Derivative Objective’ is the broadest layer and this gives an understanding as to the core objective of the fund, utilizing the 3 derivative use cases defined in the Principles section: (1) Risk Management, (2) Derivative Income, and (3) Performance Enhancement. One layer down is ‘Derivative Strategy,’ which will provide investors the means by which the investment objective is being pursued. For example, an ETF that utilizes derivatives with a Risk Management objective can be generated using either a Tail Risk Strategy to provide a level of downside protection or a Collar Strategy to provide a range-bound return outcome. Although slightly different, the commonality between these two overlays are the fact that their core purpose is to provide Risk Management.

Further down, we identify ‘Derivative Overlay’ as a layer describes the specific derivatives being used and the manner in which they are being used (Long or Short, Bull or Bear). For example, a Tail Risk overlay can obtain a level of downside protection using many kinds of derivatives. Some overlays include either “going-long” with put options via a Protective Put or harnessing VIX Futures as an overlay on an existing stock portfolio. Lastly, ‘Derivative Tactic’ help to communicate to investors any unique considerations regarding the options overlay being used. For example, a strategy offering a Synthetic Exposure are primarily meant to be exposure vehicles to. Another example is a Defined-Outcome ETF,

which utilizes put spread collars to offer a specific level of downside protection with capped upside potential if held over the course of the stated “outcome-period”, making each iteration different from one another.

The number of derivative objectives, derivative strategies, derivative overlays, and derivative tactics are expected to change as new derivative-based strategies come to market. These updates will be made by the Global X Derivative Strategy Classification Committee (“the committee”) and take into account official fund prospectus filings as well as fund company materials.

The ETF industry is continually innovating to provide unique derivative exposures to investors. The Global X Derivative Strategy Classification Committee evaluates these innovations by first investigating if a fund aligns with the core three principles of what it believes a derivative strategy to be. Then, once a fund is deemed a “Derivative Strategy”, the committee identifies what the core objective is, how this objective is being achieved, and what types of derivative positions are being utilized within the strategy by reviewing prospectuses, index methodologies (if applicable), stated objectives by the fund company, as well as underlying holdings. Once per month, the committee will review all new U.S.-Listed ETF launches to determine if the fund should be added and how it should be classified. In addition, the committee will also review any strategy changes that have occurred amongst existing ETFs within the Classification System that might merit reporting in the next monthly Derivative Strategy ETF Report.

While an ETF may engage in multiple objectives or strategies utilizing derivatives, the committee will determine the classification based on the true nature of the ETF.

While an ETF may be classified within a certain objective, strategy, overlay, or tactic, Global X does not give any assurances that the ETF provides good and accurate exposure to the specific exposure it is targeting. For example, an ETF may convey or market itself in a specific manner but still utilize a specific derivative trading strategy that has its own nomenclature.

The derivative classification system is reviewed monthly by the Global X Derivative Strategy Classification Committee to consider new changes and/or additions to the layers (categories) stated above. In addition, the committee will also seek to add newly launched, U.S.-listed ETFs that fit the 3 main principles of a derivative-based strategy.

In the event that an ETF changes its investment objective to another one that goes against the 3 principles of a derivative-based strategy, the strategy will be removed from the classification system and its historical assets under management data will be maintained within the monthly report. On the other hand, if an ETF changes it investment objective to something that fits within the parameters of the 3 principles, it will be considered for inclusion in the classification system where its AUM will start to be reflected in the report.

Global X accepts requests for reviews or appeals for any ETFs. Please contact Global X at, and the appeal will be considered in a timely manner. There are no guarantees that an appeal will result in a change in the ETF’s classification.

The Derivative-based ETF Report, including the classification system, falls under the supervision of the Global X Derivative-Based Strategy Classification Committee. The Committee consists of members from Global X’s research and product teams who have extensive knowledge of the strategies themselves and the ETF industry. The goal of the committee is to properly identify and classify ETFs that fit the 3 principles. The Committee meets at least monthly to review the classification system, as well as on an ad-hoc basis to review new ETF launches or ETFs that change their strategy.

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For more information on Global X, please contact For access to Global X Derivative Strategy Classification System – Methodology please click here.

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