Profiling 5 Total Portfolio ETFs

by on September 24, 2012 | Updated May 6, 2014

As the ETF industry continues to pump out some of the most intriguing and innovative products on the market, investors are now able to choose from a lineup of over 1,400 exchange-traded products to fit their every investment whim. Recently, a trend of “hyper-targeted” and sector specific ETFs have swept across Wall Street, attracting high demand from those who wish to establish tactical tilts in their portfolios. But for most average investors, a strategy that produces a well-balanced mix of multiple asset classes is likely to be more ideal [create customized ETF analysis with the ETF Analyzer].

Enter “total portfolio” ETFs. These products offer a way for investors to gain exposure to an entire portfolio through a single equity ticker, and all at a relatively low cost. Currently there are more than 20 funds in the Diversified Portfolio ETFdb Category with investment objectives ranging from the more conservative approach to an aggressive asset allocation strategy. Below we highlight five of the most popular “one stop shop” ETF options:

  1. S&P Moderate Allocation Fund (AOM)

This ETF is home to over $153 million in total assets, making it the largest ETF in the Diversified Portfolio ETFdb Category. AOM seeks to replicate the S&P Target Risk Moderate Index, a benchmark that is comprised of several ETFs that offer a healthy mix of equities and fixed income exposure. This fund of funds is primarily invested in domestic fixed income, but also has a healthy allocation to United States and international equities as well as a little over 2% exposure to domestic real estate [see also ETF Plays To Heed Bill Gross' Warning].

For those looking for a more aggressive or conservative “total portfolio” ETF, iShares’ lineup offers several options: S&P Growth Allocation Fund (AOR), S&P Conservative Allocation Fund (AOK), S&P Aggressive Allocation Fund (AOA).

  1. Cambria Global Tactical ETF (GTAA)

This offering from AdvisorShares puts an international twist on a multi-asset allocation strategy. GTAA is actively-managed, shifting exposure across a number of asset classes using a rules-based model that emphasizes trend following and capital preservation. Like AOM, this fund is primarily invested in fixed income products, but does allot some of its assets to foreign bonds. In addition, GTAA provides some exposure to emerging market equities as well as leveraged exposure to the U.S. dollar. The price tag for this unique fund is rather steep ,however, with its expense ratio coming in at a hefty 1.29%.

  1. Morningstar Multi-Asset Income Index Fund (IYLD)

This ETF offers multi-asset class exposure to high-yielding securities, delivering a diversified, balanced portfolio that is capable of paying a meaningful distribution yield. The goal of IYLD’s underlying indexes is to represent an allocation strategy of 60% fixed income, 20% equity and 20% alternative income sources. Currently, IYLD allocates nearly 20% of its total assets to the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF, as well as significant weightings towards an emerging market bond fund and a U.S. long-dated Treasury ETF [find ETFs for every investment objective with the ETF Screener].

  1. Multi-Asset Diversified Income Index Fund (MDIV)

For those looking for more diversification and a tilt towards high income producing securities, First Trust’s MDIV is an intriguing and relatively inexpensive pick. The fund’s underlying index invests in over 100 different holdings, including dividend-paying equities, REITs, preferred securities, MLPs and exchange-traded products. Unlike the other funds on this list, MDIV is not a “fund of funds” and actually only holds one ETF, which currently is a high-yield corporate bond ETF.

Since launching in August of this year, MDIV has already accumulated over $25 million in total assets. Investors should keep a close eye on this unique fund, as it may be a promising pick.

  1. RiverFront Tactical Balanced Growth Portfolio (PAO)

Last, but not least, Invesco PowerShares’ PAO is yet another ETF to offer a complete, well-rounded portfolio through a single equity ticker. This fund targets a mix of roughly 80% equities and 20% incomes, making it more suitable for investors with a higher risk tolerance. More than half of PAO’s assets are allocated towards domestic equities, with exposure nicely spread out across a wide array of sectors. Roughly one-quarter of the portfolio is comprised of international stocks from several different countries included the United Kingdom, Germany and Taiwan. In terms of fixed income exposure, PAO has a slight tilt towards high-yielding corporate and short-term bonds [see also How To Find The Best Money Market ETF].

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.