Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Market Volatility & Exchange Traded Funds

Exchange Traded Funds
The video that follows is about Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) and the growth seen in that type of investment product.  I have chosen this particular video for a couple of reasons.  The first reason has to do with managing expenses within our portfolios and the second is to talk about the way in which I use ETF's.  iShares used to be a separate company that offered ETF’s.  It is now owned by Blackrock and is a subsidiary of that company.  The good news about ETF’s is they are cheaper to buy and own than mutual funds.  The bad news is ETF’s are not actively managed like most mutual funds. Since ETF’s normally mirror a particular index, they don't need to be managed the same way as a mutual fund.

Personally, I like ETF’s because they offer better diversification than individual stocks, while at the same time, controlling expenses better than mutual funds (or buying the stocks individually).  I'm not a big fan of mutual funds.  The biggest reason is their larger fees which are not justifiable given most mutual funds under-perform the markets over longer periods of time.  I have owned many, many different mutual funds in the past.  Given the growth in the popularity of ETF’s in recent years, I have long since replaced all of my mutual funds with ETF’s.

Periodically I will also trade individual stocks, but with the volatility in the current markets, I find that ETF’s provide me with much more diversification and less volatility than simply owning a few stocks.  Since I'm not a buy-and-hold type of investor, my goal is to own whatever sector is outperforming at any point in time.

Constructing Portfolios
The discussion in the video talks about creating portfolios using ETF’s.  Personally, I think that most portfolios are way, way, way over diversified and that's largely because of the need on the part of the financial services industry to sell more products.  More product, in my experience has never improved returns.  Some would argue it's not about returns, it's about the safety of our portfolio.  By spending only a few minutes a day on my investments, I get both.  I see no reason if we're actively managing our portfolios why we need any more than the top 60 companies in the TSX.  I understand most people don't actively manage their portfolios, but I have to believe they don’t understand the magnitude of the increase in returns they can achieve in only a few minutes a day.

Less Is More
Regardless, there are a couple of portfolios listed in this video.  Some people may want to model their own portfolio on one of those shown, and that's fine for people who are not actively managing their portfolios.  Myself, I tend to largely use ETF's, rather than stocks or mutual funds, but, I hold a very small number of ETF’s at any particular time because I'm only interested in the funds that are performing.  That is why I incorporate Technical Analysis into my methodology.  The non-performers are dropped from my portfolio once they stop outperforming.  Either way, whether  you want to build a portfolio of ETF's, or you simply want to use ETF's to dampen  the volatility in the current markets, the use of ETF's will reduce expenses and, to me, provide a better alternative than mutual funds

Would you care to share your preference(s)?

Click Here To See The Video

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