When an ETF does not have a sufficiently long track record — typically, we consider this to be at least 3 years — the ETF could be at a higher risk of being closed down (if it doesn’t grow), and the historical performance and returns (if any) cannot be relied upon.
Some of the risks associated with an ETF that has a short or no track record include:
- Performance – When a fund, ETF or investment firm does not have a track record, it is often difficult to know what to expect from the investment. This is not the case with all ETFs that are new, especially if the ETF follows a highly liquid benchmark that has been in existence for five years or more. However, we apply the track record warning as a reminder to investors that it’s important to think long and hard about how this ETF will perform, and its role in a portfolio. Please note: at Best ETFs Australia we do not accept ‘backtests’ as a legitimate form of performance.
- Funds under management (FUM) – Although some of the largest ETF providers have established marketing departments and distribution teams, and joint ventures between distribution experts and boutique fund managers are now more common, new funds often fail to get enough money invested into them in the first 1-3 years to make them very profitable for the issuer. One obvious reason for this is most funds management and ETF ratings agencies (like us), who provide the ratings on fund managers for financial advisers, demand a three-year track record. We will accept a shorter-term track record (i.e. under three years), but it must meet a range of criteria before we will consider it a worthwhile fund/ETF.
- Buy-sell spread – The buy-sell spread, shown on our ETF listings page and in fund/ETF factsheet and quarterly reports, tells you how much it ‘costs’ to get your money in-and-out of a fund. Basically, it’s an estimate of what it costs the fund manager to take your money and invest in whatever is inside the fund/ETF. Obviously, the lower/smaller the spread is the better it is for you. New ETFs/funds can have difficulty lowering the buy-sell spread to a reasonable level until they reach scale (e.g. having FUM more than $100 million).