Five Ways To Find The Right ETF On

by on April 12, 2010

In recent years the ETF industry has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2009, more than 120 new funds hit the market. Through only about three months of 2010, another 70 or so have been added. And the pipeline is bursting with hundreds of additional ETFs that could launch in coming years, potentially adding to the nearly 1,000 U.S.-listed exchange-traded products available to U.S. investors. While this growth has expanded the universe of investable asset classes and investment strategies, it has also made ETF investing a bit overwhelming for some.

For both beginning and advanced investors, finding an ETF that provides the exposure desired can be a challenging task. Below, we highlight five ways investors can use to slice and dice the ETF universe to find the fund that’s right for them:

1. ETF Screener

The ETFdb Screener allows investors to slice and dice the universe of ETFs in countless different combinations. Investors can screen by asset class, region, sector, bond and currency type, and expense ratio, among many others. The ETF Screener also allows users to target leveraged and inverse ETFs, or to exclude these funds from results.

With each criteria entered, the ETF Screener will automatically provide an updated number of eligible ETFs. For example, setting the asset class to “Equity” will narrow results to about 700. Setting the region to “China” cuts the field to 19 ETFs, and selecting “Technology” as the sector narrows it down to just two ETFs.

The ETFdb Screener will dynamically adjust to limit options based on previous inputs, so you’ll never get annoying “No ETFs Meet These Criteria” messages. At any point in the search, clicking the “Show These ETFs” button will automatically populate a table of the matching funds.

ETFdb Pro members are able to download screener results directly into an Excel spreadsheet, complete with up to ten descriptive fields (if you’re not an ETFdb Pro member yet, sign up for a free trial or read more here).

2. ETFdb Categories

Each ETF is attributed to one (and only one) “best fit” ETFdb Category. ETFs within a particular category are generally deemed to maintain similar risk and return profiles, and will generally offer exposure to similar asset classes. Examples of ETFdb Categories include Large Cap Blend Equities, High Yield Bonds, Global Real Estate, and Diversified Portfolio. Each ETFdb Category home page includes a table detailing each component ETF, as well as summary statistics for the ETFdb Category (such as number of funds and average expense ratio).

The ETFdb Categories home page presents each of the 65+ ETFdb Categories in a central location (as does the drop-down box on the ETFdb home page).

3. Index Database

A new feature on ETF Database is a comprehensive collection of all indexes tracked by exchange-traded products. From the Index Database home page, investors can navigate to one of the nine sub-pages covering various asset classes (there’s a separate page for bonds, commodities, currencies, equities, and real estate, among others). Each of these pages contains a list of indexes covered by ETFs, along with a table of the tickers that offer access to that benchmark.

For investors looking to find an ETF to replicate a certain benchmark, the ETF screener also offers this functionality.

4. Types Page

The ETF Types page can be a bit overwhelming at first, but presents a logical organization of all the possible ways to divvy up ETFs. This is a good place to start for investors who aren’t familiar with just how large the ETF industry is, as it includes all the different sectors, regions, commodities, currencies, sizes, and styles covered by ETFs.

Under the “Equity” sub-heading, for example, is a list of all ETFs by region, sector, size, and style. The “Commodity” heading includes a list of various resources covered by ETFs, while the “Currency” section includes a list of currencies from AUD to ZAR.

5. If All Else Fails, Use The Search Box

On the left sidebar of every page on ETF Database is a search box, prompting users to enter a ticker or keyword. If a ticker symbol is entered here, it will direct the user to the summary page for that specific ETF (e.g., SPY). But the search box can also be used as a way to browse all the content and data stored on, including specific ETFs, articles, model portfolios, and more.

For example, a search for “China” will bring up links to the China Equities ETFdb Category and articles about China ETFs.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.