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The global exchange-traded fund industry smashed past the $4tn in assets mark last month, as the gingerly improving performance of active asset managers this year does little to dent investor appetite for cheaper, passive alternatives.

The entire ecosystem now boasts 6,835 ETFs and exchange-traded products (a broader category), from 313 providers, and total assets of $4.002tn at the end of April, according to fresh figures from ETFGI, a industry data provider.

ETFs and ETPs gathered a record $37.94bn last month, which was the 39th consecutive month of net inflows and brought this year’s total so far to $235.2bn – smashing 2016’s inflows of $81bn at this point of the year.

Of the ETF providers, BlackRocks’s iShares was the biggest winner last month, attracting ETF inflows of $23.9bn, followed by Vanguard’s $10.29bn and Schwab’s ETFs, which sucked in $2.53bn.

Deborah Fuhr, managing partner and a founder of ETFGI said the buoyant performance of global stock markets meant equity ETFs were particularly popular last month.

“Investors continued to favour equities over fixed income and commodities as equity markets performed positively in April,” she said. “The S&P 500 was up 1%, international equity markets outside the US and emerging markets were both up 2% in April. Investors were captivated by a closely-fought first round of the French elections during April.”

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