NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Although it is notably newer to the ETF game compared to other fund leaders like Blackrock ( BLK) and State Street ( SST), Vanguard has enjoyed a dramatic ascension that has propelled it to No. 3 in total assets.According to the November fund flow data compiled by the National Stock Exchange, the Pennsylvania-based investment company boasts a combined nearly $175 billion in assets. As many have pointed out and discussed in the past, Vanguard's success in the ETF industry has largely rested on its ability to offer attractive ETF products at a steeply discounted cost. For example, although both the Vanguard Emerging Market ETF ( VWO) and iShares MSCI Emerging Market Index Fund ( EEM) are designed to mimic the performance of the same index, the former has taken the crown thanks to its dramatically reduced expense ratio. More recently, the spotlight has shifted to the ongoing showdown between the iShares Barclays Aggregate Bond Index Fund ( AGG) and the Vanguard Total Bond ETF ( BND).
During the 13 years it has been available, XLI has grown to become a staple within the ETF realm. The fund currently boasts over $2.5 billion in assets and an average trading volume of over 20 million. Comparatively, VIS boasts $435 million in assets and changes hands less than 70,000 times each day. Ultimately, it will be up to investors to determine whether Vanguard is able to steal the crown to become the sector ETF leader. For now, I would encourage investors to hold off on switching to the newly discounted Vanguard options. In the event that these products are able to gather some steam, however, they may prove to be attractive instruments for cost-conscious individuals. Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.