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Just Released: August 2016 ETF Edge — Learn More

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Exchange-traded products have found their way into countless portfolios as investors of all walks have embraced these financial instruments for their ease of use, cost efficiency, and unparalleled transparency.

A 2013 WSJ article by Anna Prior highlighted the sheer diversity among products in the ETF universe and how investors can actually build fairly complete portfolios with just a few funds.

In the spirit of simplicity, below we outline 25 all-ETF portfolios, each comprising just three funds in total.*

*Please note that investors should adjust the suggested allocations within each of the strategies to better suite their individual risk preferences and current income needs (expenses as of 5/15/2015).

25. Global Stocks & Bonds

This strategy spans the globe, covering both equity and fixed-income asset classes from both developed and emerging markets:

(VTI A+)Total Stock Market ETF65%
(VEU A)FTSE All World Ex US ETF20%
(FWDB C)Madrona Forward Global Bond ETF15%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.21%

24. U.S. Total Market

This strategy is geared towards investors who are wary of international markets and would prefer to achieve foreign exposure tangentially through U.S. companies with overseas operations. A small bond component is also included to add diversification:

(RSP B+)S&P Equal Weight ETF40%
(SCHA A+)U.S. Small-Cap ETF40%
(BND A)Total Bond Market ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.21%

23. Foreign Growth

This portfolio is not for the risk-averse as it focuses entirely on foreign developed and emerging markets equity funds along with an ex-U.S. bond component:

(SCHF A)International Equity ETF60%
(DGS A)Emerging Market SmallCap Fund20%
(BWX A)SPDR Barclays Intl Treasury Bond20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.27%

22. Low Volatility

Anyone with capital preservation as a top priority ought to consider this “safer” equity-centric strategy:

(SPLV A)S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio50%
(EFAV A)iShares MSCI EAFE Minimum Volatility ETF30%
(EEMV A+)iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Minimum Volatility ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.24%

21. Ex-Financials

This is another strategy geared towards more risk-averse investors who wish to entirely steer clear of the infamous financials sector:

(DTN B+)Dividend ex-Financials Fund50%
(DOO B-)International Dividend ex-Financials Fund25%
(ENGN B)iShares Industrials Bond ETF25%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.41%

20. U.S. Dollar-Denominated

This strategy offers international stock and bond exposure while at the same time circumventing the inherent currency risk by utilizing U.S. dollar-denominated funds:

(DBEF B+)MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund60%
(DBEM A)MSCI Emerging Markets Equity Fund20%
(EMB A-)iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.46%

19. BRIC Bull

The name says it all; this strategy delivers targeted exposure to the BRIC markets:

(EWZ B+)iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF25%
(RSX B+)Market Vectors Russia ETF25%
(FNI B+)ISE Chindia Index Fund50%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.61%

18. Ex-Europe

Investors looking to steer clear of the debt-burdened currency bloc, but still wish to maintain international exposure, ought to consider this strategy:

(SCHB A)U.S. Broad Market ETF50%
(VPL A+)FTSE Pacific ETF30%
(ILF A)iShares Latin America 40 ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.15%

17. Cyclical-Tilt

This strategy focuses on the most cyclical sectors, and as such, should appeal to bullish investors with a stomach for volatility:

(IPW A-)SPDR S&P International Energy Sector ETF40%
(IPK B)SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF40%
(BJK B)Market Vectors Gaming ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.45%

16. Global Consumers

As a complement to the Cyclical-Tilt Portfolio, this strategy is based around consumer staples exposure across the globe, covering both developed and emerging markets; the bond component is heavily tilted towards consumer staples as well:

(KXI A-)iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF50%
(ECON C)EGShares Emerging Markets Consumer25%
(ENGN B)iShares Industrials Bond ETF25%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.52%

15. Commodity Bull

This strategy is intended for those with a bullish outlook on the global economy and is balanced between commodity stocks and futures-based exposure to natural resource prices:

(HAP A+)Market Vectors Hard Assets Producers ETF40%
(MOO A)Market Vectors-Agribusiness ETF40%
(RJI A)Rogers Intl Commodity ETN20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.57%

14. ex-Japan

It’s no secret that Asian markets are going to account for a growing share of global GDP growth over the coming years. However, Japan has long been stuck in a rut, and as such, this strategy entirely avoids exposure to this developed market in an otherwise booming region:

(AAXJ B)MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan Index Fund50%
(GMF A-)SPDR S&P Emerging Asia Pacific ETF30%
(AUNZ A)Australia & New Zealand Debt Fund20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.58%

13. Warren Buffett Clone

This strategy revolves around the investment principles embraced by the Wall Street legend:

(MOAT A-)Market Vectors Wide Moat Research ETF40%
(VIG A)Dividend Appreciation ETF40%
(EES B)SmallCap Earnings Fund20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.31%

12. Monthly Income

This strategy should appeal to conservative investors or those nearing retirement and in search of meaningful current income; each of the components here pays out a monthly dividend:

(SDIV A)SuperDividend ETF40%
(KBWD B)KBW High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio30%
(BND A)Total Bond Market ETF30%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.72%

11. Emerging Markets Fever

This portfolio is intended for aggressive, long-term investors who wish to tap into the world’s fastest growing economies:

(VWO A)Emerging Markets ETF50%
(EWX A)SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Small Cap ETF25%
(FM A-)MSCI Frontier 100 Index Fund25%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.44%

10. Commodity Countries

This strategy offers tangential exposure to commodity markets by focusing on the world’s largest producers of natural resources:

(ABCS n/a)ABC High Dividend ETF40%
(GUNR A)Morningstar Global Upstream Natural Resources Index Fund 40%
(CCX B-)Dreyfus Commodity Currency Fund20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.56%

9. Ultra-Cheap

The name says it all, this is a traditional stock-and-bond portfolio with the distinguishing feature being its rock-bottom expense ratio:

(SCHB A)U.S. Broad Market ETF50%
(VEA A)Europe Pacific30%
(SCHZ A)U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.06%

8. Hedge Fund Clone

For anyone looking to replicate the strategies of professional money managers, this is a great starting point:

(MCRO A+)IQ Hedge Macro Tracker ETF35%
(GURU C)Top Guru Holdings Index ETF30%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.75%

7. Retirement-Ready

Unlike most of the other strategies covered here, this portfolio is bond-heavy and geared towards very conservative investors who wish to preserve capital and generate a steady stream of income:

(VIG A)Dividend Appreciation ETF20%
(BND A)Total Bond Market ETF60%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.11%

6. Growth-Tilt

This strategy is geared towards aggressive investors with a long-term horizon in mind:

(IWZ A-)iShares Russell 3000 Growth ETF50%
(EFG A-)iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF30%
(EGRW B+)MSCI Emerging Markets Growth Index Fund20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.26%

5. Storm Proof

This strategy looks to weather all economic environments by holding on to three asset classes that have historically generated stable returns over the long haul:

(VDC A+)Consumer Staples ETF50%
(BND A)Total Bond Market ETF30%
(DBP B+)DB Precious Metals Fund20%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.24%

4. All About Dividends

With interest rates still stuck at historically low levels, this strategy should appeal to anyone looking to generate meaningful current income:

(LVL B-)S&P Global Dividend Opportunities Index ETF 60%
(HYG A)iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF25%
(EMHY B-)Emerging Markets High Yield Bond Fund15%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.76%

3. Tax Escape

This strategy is intended for investors that fall in the high-income tax bracket, and as such, it avoids dividend-paying securities; the bond component is also made up entirely of municipal debt, which is tax-exempt:

(IWF A+)iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF50%
(VBK A+)Small-Cap Growth ETF20%
(MUB A+)iShares National AMT-Free Muni Bond ETF30%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.19%

2. Big Bear

Anyone looking to go against the bull trend should consider this strategy. Note that the holdings here are intended to serve as complements to a traditional long-only portfolio:

(DEF B-)Defensive Equity ETF 60%
(HDGE C+)Ranger Equity Bear ETF10%
(UUP A)DB USD Index Bullish30%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.92%

1. All Abroad

Since most investors’ portfolios tend to have a glaring home-country bias, this strategy looks to avoid direct exposure to U.S. stocks and bonds:

(VEU A)FTSE All World Ex US ETF65%
(IGOV A+)S&P/Citigroup International Treasury Fund20%
(ELD B-)Emerging Markets Local Debt Fund15%
-Portfolio Expense Ratio0.25%

Follow me on Twitter @SBojinov

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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