Developed-market exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can help investors gain relatively cheap, broad diversification through access to hundreds or thousands of individual holdings across the world's most advanced economies. Here, we take a look at the five largest developed-market ETFs in terms of assets under management (AUM).
A developed market belongs to a highly productive, industrialized country with an established rule of law. Beyond the United States, developed markets include Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia. To differentiate developed markets ETFs from basic domestic ETFs and other niches, the following list focuses on ETFs with at least 5% exposure to two or more developed market economies, excluding the United States.
BlackRock Inc. (BLK) dominates the top five with three of its funds making the list: the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA), the iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA) and the iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (SCZ), at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5, respectively. The top spot, however, belongs to the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA), and the Schwab International Equity ETF (SCHF) comes in at No. 4. All information presented here was current as of Oct. 10, 2018.
Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF
AUM: $71.43 billion
Launched in 2007, the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF seeks to track the FTSE Developed All Cap ex US Index, which measures the investment return of stocks issued by companies in Canada and the major markets of Europe and the Pacific region. Japan and the United Kingdom make about 38% of the fund's allocation, with Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland rounding out the top six. The Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF previously excluded Canadian stocks, but it eventually switched policies to incorporate important trends in North America. The passively managed fund's expense ratio is 0.07%, which Vanguard says is 93% lower than the average expense ratio of funds with similar holdings.
IShares MSCI EAFE ETF
AUM: $71.39 billion
BlackRock issued the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF in 2001, and it has been at the top or close to the top of the international ETF market ever since. The ETF tracks the preeminent Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) EAFE Index, the most widely quoted international equity index in the U.S., which reflects stocks across Europe, Australia, Asia and the Far East (EAFE). The fund devotes approximately 25% of its assets to equities in Japan, about 17% to those in the United Kingdom, and about 11% to those in France. Switzerland, Germany and Australia each draw more than 5% of the fund's assets. At 0.32%, the fund's expense ratio is higher than that of the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF.
IShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF
AUM: $59.46 billion
Launched in 2012, BlackRock's iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF seeks to track the MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI), which is similar to the MSCI EAFE Index, but larger and more comprehensive. The index includes small-capitalization representation in addition to the mid-cap and large-cap representation that the MSCI EAFE Index offers. The fund's top exposure looks similar to that of the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, with about 26% of its assets devoted to equities in Japan, about 18% to those in the United Kingdom, with France, Switzerland, Germany and Australia each representing more than 5% of the fund's assets. The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF's expense ratio is competitive with that of Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF's, at 0.08%.
Schwab International Equity ETF
AUM: $16.46 billion
Like the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF, the Schwab International Equity ETF seeks to track the FTSE Developed ex-US Index. Equities in Japan comprise about 23% of its portfolio, and those in the United Kingdom comprise about 16%. Equities in France, Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Australia each comprise more than 5% of the fund's assets. The fund, which has been around since 2009, has an expense ratio of 0.06%.
IShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF
AUM: $10.43 billion
The iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF was launched in 2007 and seeks to track the performance of the MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index, which focuses on exposure to only small public companies in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Far East. Similar to the other iShares ETFs on this list, equities in Japan have the highest percentage of the fund's assets, at about 31%, and the United Kingdom has the second highest, at about 18%. Equities in Australia, Germany and Sweden each represent more than 5% of the fund's assets. The fund's expense ratio is the highest on this list, at 0.40%.