Among individual investment factors, the growth factor is soaring this year, with much of that strength attributable to the technology and consumer discretionary sectors. Scores of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focus on growth stocks, and cost-conscious investors can access growth fare with a slew of low-fee funds. That group includes the Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG). In fact, SCHG is the least expensive growth ETF in the U.S., charging a barely noticeable annual fee of 0.04%, or $4 on a $10,000 investment. That undercuts the Vanguard Growth ETF (VUG) by two basis points and the iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF (IUSG) by one basis point.

SCHG, which turns eight years old later this year, tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Large-Cap Growth Total Stock Market Index. The Schwab ETF is home to 405 stocks, and as is the case with many growth funds, SCHG is heavily allocated to the technology and consumer discretionary sectors. Those sectors combine for over half of SCHG's weight. Healthcare and industrial stocks combine for over 28% of this low-cost growth ETF's lineup. (See also: Growth ETFs Are on the Mend.)

Five of SCHG's top 10 holdings, a group that combines for over 29% of the ETF's weight, are technology stocks. Technology is not only the largest sector weight in the S&P 500, but it is also this year's best-performing sector. SCHG's top 10 holdings include venerable growth fare such as Apple Inc. (AAPL), Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN).

On that note, roughly 43% of SCHG's holdings are classified as mega-cap stocks, while another 35% are large caps. Investors typically embrace growth stocks in search of rising earnings growth, meaning that growth stocks usually trade at premiums relative to the broader market. In the case of SCHG, the ETF sports a price-to-earnings ratio of over 24 and a price-to-book ratio of over 4, both premiums compared with the S&P 500. SCHG's historical P/E ratio for the previous three years is almost 19.3, according to issuer data. (See also: Stock-Picking Strategies: Growth Investing.)

In some cases, growth stocks can lead to increased portfolio volatility, but over the past three years, SCHG has been only slightly more volatile than the S&P 500 while outpacing the U.S. equity benchmark by 420 basis points. During that period, SCHG has topped its Vanguard rival but has slightly trailed the iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF. Year to date, investors have added almost $549 million to SCHG, bringing the ETF's assets under management total to $4.5 billion. (See also: Top 5 Growth ETFs.)

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