Stepping on the Gas: ETF Adoption in Mainland China Accelerates

June 09, 2021
  • Investor Services
An astonishing 92% of investors in the region expect to increase their allocation to ETFs in the next year, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2020.

Hong Kong, June 9, 2021 – Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (BBH), a market leading ETF custodian and administrator, today released the findings of its 4th annual Greater China ETF Investor Survey. The survey found that despite recent market volatility, the appetite for ETFs continues to grow in Greater China, especially around thematic ETFs and fixed income strategies as advances in digital assets and innovation in ESG ETF strategies continue to evolve.

The Greater China findings are a subset of a larger global ETF investor survey that measured the expectations and preferences of 382 global ETF investors. Some 146 respondents represented Greater China including Mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. 58% of respondents were institutional investors, 20% financial advisers, and 22% fund managers. 76% of those respondents manage more than $100 million in assets and 56% have more than 25% of their portfolio invested in ETFs.

2020 proved to be a banner year for ETFs in Greater China with the market now representing a $270 billion industry. Ongoing education efforts across the region around the structural benefits of the ETF wrapper seem to be resonating with investors while regional regulators and stock exchanges remain committed to developing the ETF infrastructure with a focus on enhancing liquidity and bringing more innovative products to investors in Greater China.

“The enthusiasm for ETFs among Greater China investors continues to pick up momentum,” said Chris Pigott, Senior Vice President and Head of ETFs, Asia. “And as ETFs command a greater role in their portfolios, investors are naturally turning to more nuanced ETF types—whether that be ESG, active, fixed income, or thematic ETFs—to capitalize on opportunities or mitigate risk. Thematic ETFs have been a success story in the region as investors have utilized these products as an access vehicle to gain exposure to megatrends that are driving global economic growth. Aligned with the survey findings, we foresee continued product manufacturing in this space to meet the increasing investor demand.”

Key findings include:

  • Thematic ETFs get the green light: There’s resounding interest across the region with 91% of Mainland investors, 86% of Hong Kong investors, and 74% of Taiwan investors looking to increase allocations to thematic ETFs this year.
  • Mainland access continues to draw interest from global investors: 86% of global investors plan to increase investment into the Mainland equity and bond markets in 2021.
  • ESG has captured the region’s attention: 92% of investors in Greater China plan to allocate more capital to ESG strategies this year. In 5 years, 53% of investors expect to have at least 11% of their portfolio in ESG ETFs.
  • There’s an appetite for fixed income ETFs: 76% of respondents plan to increase their exposure to fixed income ETFs.

Read the full report here: 2021 Greater China ETF Investor Survey


About Brown Brothers Harriman

BBH is a privately held financial institution that has been a thought leader and solutions provider for over 200 years. The firm serves individuals, families, businesses and institutions in its three business lines: Private Banking, Investment Management, and Investor Services. BBH’s culture of accountability fosters deep and lasting relationships built on commitment, adaptability and trust. The company is independent, selective, and specialized by design.

BBH’s Investor Services business provides cross-border custody, accounting, administration, execution and technology services to many of the world’s leading asset managers and financial institutions. With deep ETF product expertise, BBH works with both experienced ETF managers and new, innovative market entrants to introduce and grow their ETF products. BBH helps asset managers launch, list, and cross-list ETFs across the globe.

BBH operates its global business out of seventeen offices located in New York, Beijing, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dublin, Grand Cayman, Hong Kong, Jersey City, Kraków, London, Luxembourg, Nashville, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Wilmington and Zürich. For more information, please visit

BBH is a registered service mark of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in the United States and other countries.

Landscape of Guilin, Li River and Karst mountains. Located near Yangshuo County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China.
Up Next
Up Next

2021 Greater China ETF Investor Survey

As part of our eighth annual ETF Survey, we broke out Greater China respondents to outline the emerging trends in usage, selection, and demand for exchange-traded funds in the region.

Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (“BBH”) may be used as a generic term to reference the company as a whole and/or its various subsidiaries generally. This material and any products or services may be issued or provided in multiple jurisdictions by duly authorized and regulated subsidiaries. This material is for general information and reference purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice and is not intended as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy securities, services or investment products. Any reference to tax matters is not intended to be used, and may not be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or other applicable tax regimes, or for promotion, marketing or recommendation to third parties. All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed, and reliance should not be placed on the information presented. This material may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted, or any of the content disclosed to third parties, without the permission of BBH. All trademarks and service marks included are the property of BBH or their respective owners. © Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 2021. All rights reserved. IS-07355-2021-05-26

As of June 15, 2022 Internet Explorer 11 is not supported by

Important Information for Non-U.S. Residents

You are required to read the following important information, which, in conjunction with the Terms and Conditions, governs your use of this website. Your use of this website and its contents constitute your acceptance of this information and those Terms and Conditions. If you do not agree with this information and the Terms and Conditions, you should immediately cease use of this website. The contents of this website have not been prepared for the benefit of investors outside of the United States. This website is not intended as a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or other financial instrument or any investment management services for any investor who resides in a jurisdiction other than the United States1. As a general matter, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. and its subsidiaries (“BBH”) is not licensed or registered to solicit prospective investors and offer investment advisory services in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The information on this website is not intended to be distributed to, directed at or used by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not access the website.  Under certain circumstances, BBH may provide services to investors located outside of the United States in accordance with applicable law. The conditions under which such services may be provided will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by BBH. BBH will only accept investors from such jurisdictions or countries where it has made a determination that such an arrangement or relationship is permissible under the laws of that jurisdiction or country. The existence of this website is not intended to be a substitute for the type of analysis described above and is not intended as a solicitation of or recommendation to any prospective investor, including those located outside of the United States. Certain BBH products or services may not be available in certain jurisdictions. By choosing to access this website from any location other than the United States, you accept full responsibility for compliance with all local laws. The website contains content that has been obtained from sources that BBH believes to be reliable as of the date presented; however, BBH cannot guarantee the accuracy of such content, assure its completeness, or warrant that such information will not be changed. The content contained herein is current as of the date of issuance and is subject to change without notice. The website’s content does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. There is no guarantee that any investment objectives, expectations, targets described in this website or the  performance or profitability of any investment will be achieved. You understand that investing in securities and other financial instruments involves risks that may affect the value of the securities and may result in losses, including the potential loss of the principal invested, and you assume and are able to bear all such risks.  In no event shall BBH or any other affiliated party be liable for any direct, incidental, special, consequential, indirect, lost profits, loss of business or data, or punitive damages arising out of your use of this website. By clicking accept, you confirm that you accept  to the above Important Information along with Terms and Conditions.

1BBH sponsors UCITS Funds registered in Luxembourg, in certain jurisdictions. For information on those funds, please see

captcha image

Type in the word seen on the picture

I am a current investor in another jurisdiction