Fortunately, exchange traded funds provide an alternative to mutual funds for the independent investor. Like mutual funds, exchange traded funds track multiple stocks or bonds in a single fund. But what’s nice about exchange traded funds is that you can trade them just like individual shares of stock.
S & P 500
One of the best ways to grow your capital over the long term is to invest in large-cap companies. If you had enough time and money, you could buy shares in each of the S & P 500 companies, but that’s something out of reach for most of us. Fortunately, exchange traded funds can make this type of investing feasible. You purchase shares in a fund which in turn invests the money in S & P 500 stocks. The price of the shares is indexed to the S & P 500, so as the S & P 500 grows (or declines) the value of your shares grow or decline with it, giving you a way to track the overall progress of the stock market. One exchange traded fund which does this is the SPDR S & P 500 (SPY), an affordable way to start investing in the S & P 500.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
In today’s market the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the 30 largest companies, isn’t considered the best overall indicator of market performance (the S & P 500 is considered by many to have taken over that role). Even so, the Dow still plays a role as one of the major indicators of the overall stock market performance and state of the economy. If following the Dow Jones Industrial Average is to your liking, then one exchange traded fund that’s available is the Dow Diamonds Fund (DIA).
Looking to take advantage of the exploding gold market, but don’t want to store gold bars in your home? Exchange traded funds that follow prices of precious metals give you a way to do that. Examples include the SPDRS Gold fund (GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust, both of which follow the price of gold bullion. Investing in other precious metals such as silver and platinum is also possible with exchange traded funds.
There’s an ETF for just about anything and this is great for the independent investor-because its an easy way to get into bonds. Any smart investor will have a diversified portfolio that includes bonds but unfortunately, buying bonds as an individual is a little bit harder than stocks and often requires larger investments. One very easy way to get around these problems is to find an exchange traded fund that invests in bonds that suits your liking. Take one example, Barclays Capital New York Municipal Bond Fund ETF (INY).
Every portfolio should have a small amount invested in real estate, and an ETF is a relatively painless and inexpensive way to do it. One example is the SPDR Dow Jones Global Real Estate ETF (RWO). This fund follows a Dow Jones index which tracks global real estate. There are many other options which can be used to track different sectors of the real estate market. More details here: http://www.inlet-resources.com/why-choose-an-exchange-traded-fund-etf/
The variety of exchange traded funds available on the market is staggering. Here is a small sample of funds you could use to start building a diversified portfolio. By selecting the right asset allocation, you could develop your own fund that meets your goals such as growth, value, or interest income.