A quick look at SPDR S&P/ASX 50 ETF (ASX:SFY) and Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield ETF (ASX:VHY)

The SPDR S&P/ASX 50 ETF (ASX: SFY) and Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield ETF (ASX: VHY) are exchange-traded funds (ETFs) operating in the Australian shares sector, and aiming to make investing as simple as possible.

How the SFY and VHY ETFs fit in a portfolio

The SPDR SFY ETF is the only Australian ETF providing exposure to Australia’s top 50 listed companies, by market capitalisation. SFY provides a low-cost way to invest in the ASX’s top 50 companies through a single fund.

The Vanguard VHY ETF provides exposure to the largest dividend-paying Australian shares, based on market capitalisation and forecast dividend yield. It tracks the FTSE Australian High Dividend Yield Index. The index excludes real estate investment trusts (REITs) and caps the total exposure to any sector/industry at 40%.

See our ASX VHY report – it’s totally free.

a gif of 4 etf reports

Okay, so we know what they’re designed to do, the sectors and strategies. Now what? One of the quick ways to compare ETFs like VHY and SFY is to study the fee load. No one likes paying high fees if they don’t need to. Here at Best ETFs and Rask Australia, we begin by analysing the fees and ‘all in’ costs of an ETF or fund. Our team will score ETFs based on management fees, plus any other costs, then put them into quartiles by sector, strategy and across the entire ETF market.

To make this article easier to digest, we’ll just study the fees or ‘management expense ratio’ (MER). Using data for July 2022, the SFY ETF has an MER of 0.29% while the VHY ETF had a yearly fee of 0.25%. So, VHY wins on this metric. Keep in mind, a more informative 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 divide 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.

Show me the money

It’s time to study the track record. 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 compelling return one year just to generate subpar 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 2022, the SFY ETF had an average annual return of 5.91%. During the same time, the VHY ETF returned 8.35%.

One final point: the ETF provider is important. In Australia, we believe there are a handful of stand-out ETF providers and many that are mid-pack or very fresh. As you guessed, the provider backing the SFY ETF is SPDR. And 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. VHY’s ETF provider on the ASX 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.

What it all means

Be sure to visit our free ASX SFY review or ASX VHY ETF review.

For us, the VHY ETF rates greater 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 2024 in a free report. Keep reading to find out how to get our analyst’s report emailed to you right now…

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