Global open-end and ETP assets stood at nearly $30trn (£20trn) at the end of 2014, according to research by Morningstar.
This was up from $27trn (£18trn) at the end of 2013 with net inflows totalling a record $1.3trn (£0.8trn).
Global equity funds accounted for around one third of these inflows, or $439bn (£294bn).
Net inflows in 2013 totalled £1trn (£0.66trn).
Alina Lamy, senior markets analyst for Morningstar, said: “US equity markets posted respectable returns in 2014, but most other global markets did not fare as well.
“Economic headwinds in Europe diminished returns for equity investors in that region, while the appreciation of the US dollar negatively affected US investors in funds domiciled in other countries.”
The research also suggested that as the search for yield became more challenging in the global fixed-income space, investors still appeared to value the lower volatility of bonds.
Ms Lamy said investor preference for less expensive, passively managed index funds and ETPs was a clear trend in the US, but in Europe and Asia non-index funds received significantly higher inflows than their index counterparts in 2014.
Andrew Swallow, director of London-based Swallow Financial Planning, said: “We have used ETFs for 10 years, and, generally speaking, the charges on them are lower than other forms of collective.”