The proliferation of exchange-traded funds over the past few years has opened up the doors to previously difficult-to-reach corners of the global market, making it easy and cost-effective for mainstream investors to tap into virtually any asset class. While the current lineup of nearly 1,500 ETFs is likelyintimidatingat first glance, it's important to remember that these financial instruments were created with simplicity in mind. ETFs were originally designed for buy-and-hold investors; as such, these vehicles are meant to simplify the investing process by offering access to diversified baskets of securities through a single ticker .

The largest issuer by total assets, iShares, has taken the themes of simplicity and cost-efficiency to a new level with its recent launch of the Core Series of ETFs. This initiative includes the launch of several new funds along with tweaks to the names and prices of some popular existing iShares ETFs, ultimately offering a greater variety of core building block ETFs suited for long-term, buy-and-hold investors .

As such, below we outline three simple (and inexpensive) ETF model portfolios built around the iShares core lineup of funds:

Total Market Simplicity

Ticker ETF Weight Expense Ratio CommissionFree
ITOT Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF 35% 0.07% Not Available
IXUS Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF 35% 0.16% Not Available
AGG Core Total U.S. Bond Market ETF 30% 0.08% Fidelity, TD Ameritrade
Total 100% 0.10%

This portfolio covers every major asset class, and it does so with only three tickers. ITOT covers almost the entire U.S. equity market as it is comprised of the S&P 500, MidCap 400 and SmallCap 600 Indexes. IXUS covers foreign stocks outside of the United States, and its portfolio spans across both developed and emerging markets. The final component, AGG, is the core bond holding, which can serve to tame overall volatility as it focuses on U.S. investment grade debt notes from the government as well as corporations.

Ex-U.S. Portfolio

Ticker ETF Weight Expense Ratio CommissionFree
IEFA Core MSCI EAFE ETF 60% 0.14% Not Available
IEMG Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF 40% 0.18% Not Available
Total 100% 0.15%

Investors looking to steer clear of domestic securities given the frustratingly slow recovery at home may wish to undertake the ex-U.S. approach this portfolio offers. IEFA fills the need for developed market exposure as it tracks the popularMSCI EAFE Investable Market Index; this benchmark is comprised primarily of large cap securities from the United Kingdom and Japan. IEMG on the other hand fills the need for high-growth opportunities, tapping into emerging markets like China, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and South Africa .

International Bull Porfolio

Ticker ETF Weight Expense Ratio CommissionFree
IJR Core S&P Small-Cap ETF 40% 0.16% Fidelity, TD Ameritrade
IEMG Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF 40% 0.18% Not Available
ILTB Core Long-Term U.S. Bond ETF 20% 0.12% Not Available
Total 100% 0.16%

Thisportfolioisdesigned for long-term investors who are willing to take on more risk in exchange for attractive upside potential. IJR rounds out exposure to the U.S. small cap market, an asset class that hasdemonstratedthe potential to deliver better risk-adjusted returns than large cap counterparts during certain environments. IEMG taps into emerging markets, another asset class that features a lucrative risk/return profile for those with a stomach for volatility. ILTB rounds out the fixed income component, and its focus on longer-term U.S. bonds offers an attractive source of current income. However, this ETF does bear greater interest rate risk than its shorter-term counterpart ISTB.

Follow me on Twitter@SBojinov

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares JPMorgan USD Emerg Markets Bond

    Learn about the iShares JPMorgan USD Emerging Markets Bond fund, which invests in bonds of sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities from emerging markets.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: SPDR Dow Jones International RelEst

    Learn how the SPDR Dow Jones International Real Estate exchange-traded fund (ETF) is managed and for whom the ETF is most appropriate.
  3. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How Hedge Funds Front-Run Index Funds to Profit

    Understand what front running is, and learn how hedge funds use this investing strategy to profit from the anticipated stock buys of index funds.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Schwab US Large-Cap

    Discover how the Schwab U.S. Large-Cap exchange-traded fund is managed, the index it tracks and the investors for which it is most appropriate.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETN Analysis: Rogers Intl Commodity Energy Total Return

    Learn more about the Rogers International Commodity Total Return, which is an exchange-traded note that tracks a broad index of commodity futures.
  6. Personal Finance

    A Day in the Life of an Equity Research Analyst

    What does an equity research analyst do on an everyday basis?
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: ProShares UltraPro Nasdaq Biotech

    Obtain information about an ETF offerings that provides leveraged exposure to the biotechnology industry, the ProShares UltraPro Nasdaq Biotech Fund.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares MSCI Europe Financials

    Learn about the iShares MSCI Europe Financials fund, which invests in numerous European financial industries, such as banks, insurance and real estate.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: SPDR S&P Insurance

    Learn about the SPDR S&P Insurance exchange-traded fund, which follows the S&P Insurance Select Industry Index by investing in equities of U.S. insurers.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Small Cap

    Learn about the SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Small Cap exchange-traded fund, which invests in small-cap firms traded at the emerging equity markets.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Equity

    The value of an asset less the value of all liabilities on that ...
  2. Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)

    A security that tracks an index, a commodity or a basket of assets ...
  3. Exchange-Traded Mutual Funds (ETMF)

    Investopedia explains the definition of exchange-traded mutual ...
  4. Fractal Markets Hypothesis (FMH)

    An alternative investment theory to Efficient Market Hypothesis ...
  5. Hard-To-Sell Asset

    An asset that is extremely difficult to dispose of either due ...
  6. Sucker Yield

    When an investor has essentially risked all of his capital for ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does a high turnover ratio signify for an investment fund?

    If an investment fund has a high turnover ratio, it indicates it replaces most or all of its holdings over a one-year period. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does index trading increase market vulnerability?

    The rise of index trading may increase the overall vulnerability of the stock market due to increased correlations between ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!