This article first appeared on the WallStreetSelector.com website on June 2, 2013.
Various academic studies have indicated that asset allocation is more important than security selection, especially in times of greater volatility in the markets. However, according to Roger Ibbotson, writing about the importance of asset allocation in the March/April 2010 publication of the Financial Analyst Journal, about three-quarters of market gains or losses come from general (broad) market moves, rather than asset allocation or security selection. As a consequence, individual investors are turning more and more to index-based and/or sector-specific exchange traded funds (ETFs), rather than managed mutual funds or individual securities.
According to ETF Database, there are currently more than 1,400 exchange traded funds available, ranging from broad general market funds to highly specialized funds representing a single industry, country, commodity, or investment goal. You can pick ETFs which seek high dividends and/or interest payments, those focused solely on share appreciation, or those which seek both objectives. ETFs are available for bonds, commodities, real estate, or currencies. They are structured to move in concert with the index they track, exceed the index’s moves, or move in the opposite direction. The industry follows the advice popularized in the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” And they have – to the tune of more than one million shares per day on average.