A look at SPDR SLF and the VLC ETF
The SLF ETF by SPDR invests in shares/securities of listed real estate investment trusts (REITs). Investors can use these property-focused ETFs to get exposure to a broad basket of trusts and companies exposed to property, including office spaces, commercial rental spaces and construction projects.
The Vanguard VLC ETF provides exposure to the MSCI Australian Shares Large Cap Index. This index is a ‘free float-adjusted market capitalization index’ which provides investors with exposure to the largest companies on the ASX.
Learn more about the VLC ETF with our full analysis page. Get our VLC review.
So where do we start analysing VLC and SLF? In addition to using our years of experience analysing ETFs to ‘get a feel’ for the ETF, there are simple checks and balances our team uses to compare similar ETFs.
The first is fees. We score ETFs based on their management fees and costs and we take into account the spread. We’ll then compare these ‘all in’ fees and costs across sectors, strategy types and ETF providers.
We’ll keep it basic and just study the fees. Based on our data for July 2021, the SLF ETF has a management expense ratio (MER) of 0.40% while the VLC ETF’s yearly fee was 0.20%. Therefore, VLC wins on this one. That said, a more useful metric to know is the fee quartiles that these ETFs find themselves in (note: quartile 1 is best). For example, any ETF which has a fee below 0.3% would be considered in our first (best) quartile.
As Jerry Maguire said, ‘show me the money’. 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 positive return one year just to generate inferior 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 SLF ETF had an average annual return of 7.22%. During the same time, the VLC ETF returned 12.50%.
There’s one more important thing to consider: the company that starts and runs the ETF. They are in charge of operating the ETF on the ASX. The provider of the SLF fund is SPDR. SPDR ranks highly for our scores of ETF providers and issuers in Australia. We think SPDR is one of Australia’s top 10 ETF providers for advisers and institutions, and its ETFs on the ASX provide good exposure to particular financial markets for retail investors. Meanwhile, the company responsible for VLC is Vanguard. Vanguard ranks highly for our scores of ETF providers and issuers in Australia. We consider Vanguard to be in Australia’s top three ETF providers for retail investors, advisers and institutions.
For us, the VLC ETF rates fairly better 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…