We recently crunched some numbers in our database and found that iShares S&P/ASX 20 ETF (ASX: ILC) and Betashares Australian Sustainability Leaders ETF (ASX: FAIR) ranked better than most ETFs in the Australian shares sector.
So what do they do?
The iShares ILC ETF provides exposure to the largest 20 Australian stocks, giving you targeted exposure to Australian blue-chip companies. This is a low-cost way to access top Australian companies through a single fund.
The BetaShares FAIR ETF provides exposure to the largest Australian shares and focuses on companies which operate ethically. FAIR has been certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), as part of the Responsible Investment Certification Program.
If you want to go beyond the basics with the ILC ETF you can learn more about it by reading our free review.
Obviously, an easy way to analyse ETFs like FAIR and ILC is by using quantitative methods and judging the fees and past performance (note: past performance is no guarantee of future performance).
At Rask Australia and Best ETFs, our team scores ETFs and funds based on the management fees and we take into account the buy-sell spread and other costs. We’ll then compare these ‘all in’ fees and costs across sectors, strategy types and providers to get a sense of fees across the entire market.
To make this article easier to digest, we’ll just study the fees or ‘management expense ratio’ (MER). Using data for December 2020, the ILC ETF has an MER of 0.24% while the FAIR ETF had a yearly fee of 0.49%. As a result, ILC comes out on top. Keep in mind, a more insightful metric to know is the fee quartiles that these ETFs find themselves in (note: quartile 1 is best). Meaning, we take all the Australian shares ETFs in our database and put them into 4 quartiles, based on their fees. For example, any ETF which has a fee below 0.3% would be considered in our first (best) quartile.
Let’s look at the past results. Keep in mind, performance isn’t everything — and past performance is not indicative of future performance. It’s just one part of a much bigger picture. The reason we say performance is not everything is because of volatility of financial markets and the economy from one year to the next. Some ETFs and funds can put in a strong return one year just to generate weak returns the next time around. That’s why we prefer three-year or seven-year track records over one-year track records. It can smooth out the temporary performances caused by external factors. Both ETFs have achieved our three-year performance hurdle. As of December 2020, the ILC ETF had an average annual return of 8.64%. During the same time, the FAIR ETF returned 9.75%.
Now we need to scrutinise the issuer or provider of the ETF. There are too many factors that go into our internal scoring of fund providers to detail here — here’s the quick version: As you guessed, the issuer of the ILC ETF is iShares. iShares ranks highly for our scores of ETF providers and issuers in Australia. We consider iShares to be among the best ETF providers in Australia and globally. FAIR’s provider is Betashares. Betashares ranks highly for our scores of ETF providers and issuers in Australia. We believe BetaShares is one of the leading providers of index and non-index style products to retail investors in Australia.
For us, the FAIR ETF rates more effectively against our internal scoring methodology, but only just.
We hope this article helped you analyse ETFs. Don’t forget, there’s a lot more to investing well than what we just outlined (risks, diversification, other potentially better ETFs, etc.). Our analyst team at Rask Australia spends months looking at new ASX investments (it’s our day job!). To make your life easier, you can get the name of our team’s top ETF pick for 2021 in a free report. Keep reading to find out how to get our analyst’s report emailed to you right now…