Now could be the right time to take a look at the Betashares Australian Small Companies Select Fund (Managed Fund) ETF (ASX: SMLL) and Vanguard MSCI Australian Small Companies Index ETF (ASX: VSO). Using our internal quantitative analysis, these ETFs seem to offer attractive exposure to the Australian shares sector.
Here’s how we think about the SMLL and VSO ETFs
The BetaShares SMLL Fund is an ASX-listed managed fund that aims to outperform the S&P/ASX Small Ordinaries Accumulation Index and provide investors with regular capital growth and income.
The Vanguard VSO ETF provides exposure to a diversified portfolio of Australian small caps and tracks the MSCI Australian Shares Small Cap Index. This is a low-cost way to access the performance of Australian small-cap shares through a single fund.
Get our team’s SMLL ETF review, available free when you click this link: access the free investment report.
To make this article easier to digest, we’ll just study the fees or ‘management expense ratio’ (MER). Using data for July 2021, the SMLL ETF has an MER of 0.39% while the VSO ETF had a yearly fee of 0.30%. So, VSO wins on this metric. Keep in mind, a more useful 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 classify 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.
How we study past performance
Time to look at past returns. 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 attractive return one year just to generate unsatisfactory 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 July 2021, the SMLL ETF had an average annual return of 11.41%. During the same time, the VSO ETF returned 12.72%.
In summary, the VSO ETF ranks higher against our internal scoring methodology and by quite some distance against SMLL.
Please, keep in mind, there is much more to choosing a good ETF. That’s why you should now use these skills to find the best ETF you can. If you want the name of our team’s top ETF pick for 2021, keep reading…