What are the SPDR STW and Vanguard VLC ETFs designed to do?
The SPDR STW ETF is Australia’s first ETF and has been operating for over 15 years. STW provides exposure to the largest 200 Australian shares, based on market capitalisation. This is a low-cost way to access top Australian companies through a single fund.
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.
For more information on the STW ETF, see our ASX STW review.
We’ll keep it basic and just study the fees. Based on our data for July 2021, the STW ETF has a management expense ratio (MER) of 0.13% while the VLC ETF’s yearly fee was 0.20%.So STW comes out on top. 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 STW ETF had an average annual return of 13.04%. During the same time, the VLC ETF returned 14.42%.
Okay, one final thing. Let’s talk about the company responsible for the ETF. There are too many factors that go into our internal scoring of fund providers to step through in this article. The provider behind the STW ETF 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, VLC’s provider 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…