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The First ETF Turns 20: Innovation That Leveled The Playing Field For All Investors Reaches New Milestone

State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), the asset management business of State Street Corporation (NYSE: STT), today marked the twentieth anniversary of the first exchange traded fund, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (Symbol: SPY) 1. Launched on January 29, 1993 with just $6.5 million in assets, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF is now the world’s largest ETF with more than $123 billion in assets under management and the most traded ETF with an average daily trading volume of 144 million shares. 2

“The launch of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF in 1993 was a groundbreaking innovation that improved access to the market for investors,” said James Ross, senior managing director and global head of SPDR Exchange Traded Funds at SSgA. “It’s an honor to have been a member of the team that introduced the first ETF. It’s also tremendously rewarding to see SPY recognized as one of the most investor-friendly innovations of our time and a major catalyst for the growth of the ETF industry, which now includes more than 5,000 funds with nearly $2 trillion in assets globally.”

SSgA is marking this milestone with the release of SPY: The Idea That Spawned an Industry, which explores the creation and early years of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF through interviews with key participants who conceived, tested and initially struggled to find a market for the first ETF.

“The creation of SPY started an industry that has provided countless institutional and individual investors with improved access to virtually all areas of the market,” said Greg Ehret, chief operating officer at SSgA. “The SPDR S&P 500 ETF is a core portfolio holding for a growing number of investors because it remains true to its original goal: to provide investors large and small with liquid, low cost, transparent 3 access to the S&P 500 Index. The way in which various investors construct portfolios is very different today than it was twenty years ago due in part to the SPDR S&P 500 ETF and the industry that was created by its launch. With global ETF asset growth averaging 27 percent per year 4, it’s clear ETFs will remain an influential investment product for years to come.”

To download a copy of SPY: The Idea That Spawned an Industry, key information and current performance regarding the first ETF, visit

Key Facts on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF
  • Launched on January 29, 1993, SPY was the first US-listed ETF
  • With over $123 billion in assets, SPY is the largest ETF – representing approximately 6.4 percent of global ETF assets 5
  • In 13 of the last 20 years, SPY has attracted more asset flows than any other ETF. 6 In 2012, more than $20 billion poured into SPY – representing 11 percent of total US ETF asset inflows 7
  • With an average daily dollar volume of $19.7 billion, SPY is the most traded equity security in the world 8
  • SPY’s prominence in the market is propelled in part by the fund’s low total cost of ownership - combining a competitive expense ratio (0.945 percent net, 0.10 percent gross), high trading volume, and competitively lower per share costs (as derived from tighter bid-ask spreads)
  • Over the last year, SPY accounted for 17 percent of US-listed ETF share volume and 38 percent of US-listed ETF dollar volume 9

State Street manages more than $340 billion in SPDR ETF assets worldwide (as of December 31, 2012) 10 and is one of the largest ETF providers globally.

About SPDR Exchange Traded Funds

SPDR ETFs are a comprehensive family spanning an array of international and domestic asset classes. SPDR ETFs are managed by SSgA Funds Management, Inc., a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of State Street Bank and Trust Company. The funds provide professional investors with the flexibility to select investments that are precisely aligned to their investment strategy. Recognized as industry pioneer, State Street created the first US listed ETF in 1993 (SPDR S&P 500 ® – Ticker SPY). Since then, we’ve sustained our place as an industry innovator through the introduction of many ground-breaking products, including first-to-market launches with gold, international real estate, international fixed income and sector ETFs. For more information, visit

About State Street Global Advisors

State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) is a global leader in asset management. The firm is relied on by sophisticated investors worldwide for its disciplined investment process, powerful global investment platform and access to every major asset class, capitalization range and style. SSgA is the asset management business of State Street Corporation, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services to institutional investors.

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