When choosing the right mutual fund for your various investment goals, there are a few things to consider. First, you need to determine the kind of funds you want to invest in. The most common types of funds are index funds, which track an index of stocks or bonds. These funds typically invest in a small number of stocks or bonds, which means they are less risky for the average investor. Another type of fund is an exchange-traded fund, or ETF, which is a mutual fund that trades like a stock on a stock exchange. This type of fund usually holds hundreds or thousands of stocks, making it less risky, but it also means that your investment may not rise and fall as much as you’d hope. The final kind of fund
The market for ETFs and index funds has been growing steadily, with ETFs offering investors a way to diversify their portfolio in a way that is cheaper, faster, and more convenient than the older forms of investment. You can now choose between Exchange Traded Funds or Index funds, which provide the same benefits but at a much lower cost. The two types of funds are very different from each other, and each has its own benefits.
You ask yourself the following question nearly every week: “Should I buy an ETF or an index fund?” Is the answer to that question as clear cut as the stock market would have you believe?. Read more about vanguard index funds and let us know what you think.
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You must first select the stock market index if you want to invest in a specific stock market index. After you’ve decided on an index to invest in, you’ll need to pick which index fund you’ll use to invest in it. You may do this by investing in a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). There will be a broad range of index funds available to replicate the performance of prominent indexes.
It will be difficult to select even if you just choose popular funds for a certain index. When comparing two index funds, there are numerous factors to consider, as you will see in this article. As most people are aware, the price is still the most significant factor. However, there are additional factors to consider when comparing two index funds. And some of these things aren’t immediately apparent.
In this article, we’ll go over all of the factors to consider when selecting an index fund, whether it’s a mutual fund or an ETF (ETF).
Ratio of Total Expenses (TER)
The Total Expense Ratio (TER) of an index fund is most likely the most essential statistic to consider. It’s also known as the Expense Ratio in certain instances (ER). Because you’re comparing two funds that track the same index, the difference in returns will be determined by the fees they charge.
The total amount of fees deducted from the fund each year to pay for its administration is known as the TER. Paying for workers and advertising, for example, are examples of these costs. The TER is measured in percentages. Around the end of the year, this percentage is deducted from the fund.
The only influence you have over future results while investing passively is the total amount of fees you will pay. As a result, you should choose an index fund with a very low TER.
For instance, we can look at two index funds following the S&P 500 index:
- Vanguard S&P500 ETF (VOO): The TER is 0.04%
- SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY): The TER is 0.09%
If you put $100,000 in VOO instead of SPY, you will save $50,000 each year. 50 dollars each year may not seem like a lot. However, if you save for 20 years at 8% annual returns, you will have saved more than $4000 USD. As a result, you should select VOO over SPY only on the basis of the TER.
The TER, in my view, is the most essential statistic to use when comparing two index funds. This isn’t the only measure, however! You must also examine a number of other factors.
Under Management Assets (AUM)
The same index is followed by several index funds. Some of them are in charge of large sums of money, while others are in charge of considerably less. The Assets Under Management (AUM) of a fund is the total amount of money it manages (AUM). This statistic displays the total amount of money invested in the fund. It’s a crucial measure for determining whether or not a fund is popular. It is, however, more difficult to assess than the TER.
In most cases, a big fund is preferable than a small one. There’s a chance the fund may be shut down if it’s too tiny. It may also mean that it is unpopular for other reasons. A big fund will almost certainly be more liquid than a small one.
There is one exception to this rule. You may wish to pick a smaller fund if you want to follow the performance of an index containing small-cap businesses. The reason for this is because if a fund is too huge, its substantial investments in tiny businesses may have a major impact on its stock price. Furthermore, as small-cap funds expanded, they were known to begin investing in medium-cap businesses. It implies that you are no longer investing in the same item.
In any event, absolute values should be avoided. A fund that manages 400 million dollars, for example, is not always superior than one that manages 350 million dollars. When comparing a fund that manages two billion dollars to one that manages ten million dollars, there is something to be stated.
There’s a little twist here, however. There are two numbers for many funds. If you search up VOO on Vanguard, for example, you’ll see these two numbers:
- Total net assets of the fund: 400.7 billion dollars
- Total net assets of the share class: $90.6 billion USD
The reason for this is because, like many others, this fund comes in a variety of share classes (ETF, Admiral shares, and Investor Shares). As a result, the first figure represents the total value of all stock shares. The second figure is the total value of all assets under management for ETF shares alone. The total net assets figure is the one you’re looking for.
Let’s use the Russell 3000 Index as an example once more:
- iShares Russell 3000 ETF (IWV): 9.6 billion USD in assets under management
- 420 million USD Vanguard Russell 3000 ETF (VTHR) AUM
VTHR is less than a tenth of the size of IWV. You’re better suited with the IWV based only on the AUM.
Even while two index funds that track the same index should have the same amount of stocks, this isn’t always the case. When comparing two index funds, the number of stocks (or holdings) in each fund is an essential factor to consider.
At the time of this writing, Vanguard S&P500 ETF (VOO) has 509 stocks. It is quite counter-intuitive since it follows an index of 500 companies! It gets even worse because the S&P500 index has, in fact, 505 stocks. The reason is that some companies, such as Alphabet (Google), have several classes of shares, and the index comprises them all.
An index may contain more or fewer stocks than its index for a variety of reasons. For example, if the fund is too tiny and the index contains a large number of equities, it may not be able to purchase the smallest businesses.
Because most funds are weighted by market size, there are more shares of large firms than tiny companies. As the fund develops, it will purchase the shares of the smallest businesses. Another explanation is that certain funds do not purchase and sell all of the time in order to save money on transactions. As a result, certain discrepancies between the index and the fund may exist. Finally, the fund’s management have complete discretion over which businesses are included in the index.
In general, funds with a number of holdings as near as feasible to the number of stocks in the index should be preferred. There will be little difference between funds for most indices. However, if you’re looking at extremely big indexes, you should be aware of this.
Volume of Trade
The trading volume of any index fund you’re examining is another important factor to consider. The trading volume refers to the total number of transactions made by the fund. The volume grows by one every time one share is sold or purchased. It’s a very simple concept. A larger fund, on average, has a higher trading volume. Some comparable funds, on the other hand, have a considerably greater volume than others.
It’s significant since it indicates how liquid a fund is. A high trading volume implies that this fund’s shares are simple to purchase and sell. However, it also indicates that the gap between the ask and bid prices is minor. The bid-ask spread is a term used to describe this disparity. The narrower the spread, the better the pricing when buying and selling.
It doesn’t matter if you’re holding for the long haul. However, knowing that you may sell your stock at the best price might be beneficial.
For instance, we can look at the average trading for three S&P 500 funds:
- SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY): This fund has a trading volume of 122 million shares per day.
- iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV): This fund only has 6.3 million trades average daily trading volume.
- Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO): This last fund only has 4.4 million trades per day on average.
Surprisingly, while being less than three times the size of VOO, SPY has thirty times the trading volume. As a result, it is regularly one among the most traded securities on the stock market.
Domicile for the Fund
If you live in the United States, you will almost certainly exclusively invest there. That isn’t to suggest you shouldn’t invest in indices outside of the United States; you can locate foreign funds in the United States.
In Europe, it is a bit more challenging to choose between index funds coming from different countries. If all other things are equal, the fund domicile should be taken into account. Of course, there are some cases where you will not find funds from different countries. But for popular indexes such as The S&P 500 index, there are many funds from many different countries.
U.S. funds are usually the best for European investors. The explanation has to do with dividend taxation. Investing in mutual funds in the United States is more tax-efficient than investing in mutual funds in Switzerland. This is only true for funds that invest in US stocks. However, since the United States accounts for half of the global stock market, you are likely to have a large number of U.S. stocks in your portfolio.
If you invest in an S&P500 fund from the U.S., 30% of the dividends will be withheld. However, you can reclaim the entirety of these dividends. It makes an effective 0% withholding tax. The next best thing is to invest in an Ireland fund where only 15% will be effectively withheld. For other countries, it will vary from 15% to 35% for Swiss investors. So if you can, you should invest in U.S. funds, and if you cannot, you should invest in Ireland funds.
With U.S. money, there is just one snag: the estate tax. If you still have these money after you die, you will have to report them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. Your heirs will most likely be burdened by this. They should not have to pay a tax on it until they have more than 11 million dollars.
If you choose non-Swiss ETFs (including US ETFs), please read my post on how to submit your taxes with international ETFs.
Distribution of Dividends
When you invest in an index fund, you are buying stock from a variety of businesses. A dividend will be paid by some of these businesses. To begin with, these dividends are paid to the fund management. The dividends, on the other hand, are for you. As a result, the fund’s shareholders, you, will get these accumulating dividends at some time.
There are two options for doing so. First, the money may be distributed as a dividend by the fund. In most cases, funds do this on a quarterly basis. Dividends may also be accumulated straight into the funds. As a result, the fund’s share price will increase by the same amount as the dividends you received per share. Surprisingly, European fund providers use this strategy. However, it is only used seldom by US fund providers.
There are certain tax benefits to collecting money in some nations. In Switzerland, however, this is not the case. They are taxed at the same rate here. Another benefit of collecting assets is that you may save money on transactions by not having to purchase dividend-paying stocks. If you always intend to reinvest your earnings, collecting money may be a good idea.
Distributing money, on the other hand, may provide you with greater freedom. You’ll have some additional cash, which you may put into whatever fund you choose. This is something you might use to rebalance your portfolio. I like sharing money since it provides me with more useful cash. This article contrasts collecting and dispersing money to learn more.
Techniques of Replication
I’ve already discussed index replication in great detail. Physical replication and synthetic replication are the two primary types of replication.
Physical replication is straightforward. It implies that the fund will invest in the index’s businesses. Synthetic replication refers to the employment of derivatives to mimic market performance. I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of synthetic replication. I strongly advise against investing in synthetic ETFs! When it comes to physical ETFs, keep it simple.
Physically replicating the index may be done in two ways: full replication or sampling.
The term “full replication” refers to the fund’s holdings of stock in all of the index’s firms. Full Replication is a straightforward method for accurately replicating the index’s performance. This isn’t always feasible, however. For example, if the index contains too many businesses, holding shares in all of them may not be cost-effective.
When Full Replication isn’t feasible or economical, index funds rely on sampling. In such scenario, they merely hold a portion of the shares in the index’s businesses. For example, they might own shares in 90 percent of the index’s businesses. Sampling isn’t terrible, and it’s quite similar to what we covered in the section on “Number of Stocks.”
However, there is a distinction in that money may also be used to store other items. To mimic market performance, sampling funds may also include derivatives such as futures, contracts, and options. As a result, fund managers have greater leeway to behave as they want.
A Full Replication fund is far better than a Sampling fund in my opinion. If the index is very big, though, you may not have an option. In such scenario, sampling funds with the greatest number of shares from the index are preferable. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what the fund has!
Tracking Error and Tracking Difference
You may use the Tracking Difference and the Tracking Error as measures to compare two distinct funds if you want to go further into your study of an ETF or an index fund.
The tracking difference is the difference between the ETF’s performance and the index’s performance. For example, if the index returns 10% and the fund returns 8.9% in one year, the tracking difference is 1.1 percent.
The Tracking Difference is influenced by a variety of factors. The TER is the most apparent aspect. All of the fund’s fees do, in fact, deduct some returns. However, this isn’t the sole factor. To save money on costs, mutual funds will only purchase and sell shares a few times each year. This implies they don’t always accurately reflect the market. This may have a significant impact. In addition, the quantity of shares owned by the fund may have an impact.
The Tracking Error and the Tracking Difference are inextricably linked. The Tracking Error is a metric that quantifies the variability of return discrepancies. The standard deviation of daily Tracking Differences over a year is used to calculate it.
In general, you want an ETF’s Tracking Difference and Tracking Error to be as low as possible. Unfortunately, these measurements are tough to come by. I haven’t been able to find a website that provides me with the tracking errors and discrepancies for all ETFs. Please let me know if you know of one! If you want this information, you’ll have to go through the fund’s papers. This information is usually updated every three months.
This is, however, a more sophisticated comparison. In most cases, you won’t need to delve that far into an ETF’s study!
Fund Performance in the Past
The past returns of the funds are something that some individuals wish to compare. It is useless in and of itself since this is the past and we have no means of knowing what will happen in the future.
Past results are no guarantee of future outcomes.
It will be fascinating to observe whether there is a big variation between the various funds. The Tracking Difference of the funds has a strong correlation with previous performance. There will be a substantial variation in returns if the Tracking Difference between two funds is significantly different. Most of the time, the TER of the funds will show a strong connection.
For example, consider the following graph showing the performance of five ETFs tracking the Euro STOXX 600 index:
Returns of Mutual Funds
Two of the funds are outperforming the other three by a considerable margin. The five funds have fairly similar TERs, therefore the way they track the index differs. In general, there won’t be much of a change! I had to search for a decent example for quite some time. In the long run, there isn’t much of a difference between these five funds.
If you’re unsure about which fund to choose, comparing historical returns may be helpful. They should be as near to the index’s performance as feasible.
Hedging your currency
The last thing I want to mention is currency hedging. But first, you need to consider that not all funds are in the same currency. Generally, each fund is in the currency of the country the fund is from. Most S&P 500 funds are in USD, for instance. However, if you take an S&P 500 fund provided by a European fund provider, it could be in EUR. In any case, the underlying currency would always be in dollars. It is just traded in a different currency.
Now let’s return to currency hedging. Currency risk is inherent in owning a foreign currency fund. Your foreign currency assets will lose value if your base currency strengthens. You will receive more if they grow weaker. Currency risk is the name for this kind of risk.
There may be a lot of changes in the short term. Some individuals are unwilling to accept such a risk. As a result, they purchase a currency-hedged fund. Whether you purchase a USD-denominated fund with a CHF hedge, it doesn’t matter if the USD or the CHF strengthens. Currency-hedged funds usually have higher fees than their unhedged counterparts. The hedging charge is a cost you pay to remove currency risk from your portfolio.
There is something fundamental to know. It is not because you have an S&P 500 fund denominated in CHF that you do not have any currency risk. If the dollars go up or down, the value in CHF will vary a lot! But, as said before, the underlying currency of the S&P 500 is always the dollar. And all the companies in this index trade in dollars!
Currency-hedged funds are not something I invest in. I’m making a long-term investment. As a result, I don’t think the costs are justified. The fluctuations in foreign currencies will be averaged out over time if you invest regularly.
If you want to learn more about currency hedging, check out my in-depth post.
As you can see, choosing a mutual fund or an Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) for this index is tough even after you’ve chosen an index. When comparing two funds, you may consider a variety of factors.
You don’t have to utilize all of these options. You may just need to look at a handful of them depending on the circumstances. Although it is an important factor to consider, the TER is not the only one to consider when selecting a fund. The lowest fund isn’t always the best. It’s possible that it’s too tiny or that it holds too many derivatives. Even if you don’t need these criteria to make a decision, knowing them for the funds you’re investing in is important. Understanding your assets is critical!
You may want to learn how to build a complete ETF Portfolio now that you know how to select an index fund.
If you haven’t yet opened an account with a broker, I suggest Interactive Brokers. IB is a low-cost broker with a slew of useful features.
So, how about you? How do you choose between two mutual funds?
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The author of thepoorswiss.com is Mr. The Poor Swiss. He recognized he was slipping into the lifestyle inflation trap in 2017. He made the decision to reduce his expenditures while increasing his income. This blog chronicles his journey and discoveries. In 2019, he plans to save more than half of his salary. He set a goal for himself to achieve financial independence. Here’s where you may send a message to Mr. The Poor Swiss.
Choosing one of the two main investment vehicles—an exchange traded fund (ETF) or a mutual fund—is not always as easy as it may appear. In this post, we’ll cover some of the basics of both ETFs and mutual funds.. Read more about fidelity index funds and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better index fund or ETF?
Index funds are funds that track the index they are named for. ETFs invest in companies that are incorporated outside of the country, but listed on a foreign individual market. They often charge less fees. Taxes Which is better, Investing or Saving? Saving ensures that capital goes back into the economy. This, in turn, increases the economy’s capital or wealth, ultimately helping to improve the well being of region. Investing allows a person to gain profits for themselves through different investment techniques like investing in shares of hardware or property. You pay more taxes on investment profits, however.
How do you choose an index ETF?
If you’re deciding on purchasing an index ETF it is important to look at the expense ratios. Expense ratios tell us how much each dollar invested in the ETF will cost. The expense ratios can be reduced by operating expenses and more. So the fund management expense ratio in may be 0.15% while the overhead expense ratio for the same fund may be 0.75%. The difference is that the management fee expense ratio pays for the fund management while medical expenses will be taken out. Costs to the fund will be taken out of the fund itself by the expense ratio. Now, the cost of operations cannot be reduced then and you’re likely losing out because the difference between that expense ratio is going to be the profit for the fund. You need to choose a more cost efficient ETF. You also want to think about dividends. If the dividend increases by a proportionally across the portfolio the fund management fee can be cut even more. What about commission fees for designing a portfolio? The calculation of commissions includes operating expenses, salary, benefits, operational manager salaries, and payments received for financial services rendered. What is the difference between active and passive investing? For those of you who are unfamiliar with passive investing, it is where an individual maintains a broadly diversified portfolio of investments without worrying about the individual stock pick. A company or an individual will conduct the day-to-day management of the
How do I choose mutual funds or ETFs?
Vanguard has a bunch of them. Why don’t my retirement funds have many of the same share classes, like VTSMX, VTSMX.B, VUNMX? Vanguard uses Institutional Preferred shares in some of their mutual funds. Vanguard also has limited-term and closed-end funds which have different share classes. I’m having trouble choosing the right mutual fund or ETF for me. If you’re having trouble, ask us for help! I think I lost my tax documentation. If you lost your tax documentation, you need to contact your local tax office and ask them about your options. You can go to a Tax-Aide option in your area, or, if that isn’t possible then you can contact the IRS via the phone number at (800) 829-1040. I think I lost my ID. If you’re having trouble tracking down an expired credit card or ID, we’d suggest you visit your local social service or police department and ask them for assistance.
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