The Best ETF Comparison Tool
Before I decided to invest in index funds, I looked into index ETFs. I wrote about the major differences between the two in another article. Whilst I ultimately decided to invest in index funds, I researched a number of ETFs in detail. Since some of you might prefer ETFs, I thought it would make sense to provide you with a guide to an ETF comparison site I used heavily in my research.
The service is called JustETF. A note here, I am not endorsed by JustETF, nor I am an affiliate. I think the service they provide is useful and the website is one of the best in the ETF niche.
The ETF Screener Tool
This tool, screenshot below, allows you to compare the ETFs available on the UK market. The overview tab, by itself, gives you a wealth of information including:
- The Fund Currency
- The Fund Size (in millions of pounds)
- The total annual expense ratio (TER) shown as a percentage
- The percentage gains/losses in 1, 3 and 5 year timescales
- The replication method (eg. full or optimised sampling)
- The ticker symbol
- The Percentage Periods and Percentage Years tabs display gains/losses in additional timescales (eg. 3 months, a year by year breakdown).
The risk tab shows you the volatility measure in a range of timescales. Volatility is basically the percentage that the ETF price fluctuates over a certain period of time.
The line chart and bar chart tabs are useful in that you can visualise price changes over time and you can compare multiple ETFs at once.
Filters, Plus an Example
There a number of filters you can apply to narrow down your ETF search. Let’s say I’m looking to compare full replication S&P 500 ETFs that are older than 5 years. Under ‘Matching Indices’ I have selected S&P 500, under ‘Age’ I have selected ‘older than 5 years’ and under ‘Replication Method’ I have selected ‘Full Replication’. Using these filters I narrowed the search to 5 ETFs.
I can then compare these ETFs by all the factors outlined above.
The portfolio builder allows you to build an imaginary ETF portfolio which allows you to view your investments in more detail as a complete package. You need to create a free account to do this. Once it is setup you can build your portfolio in a few ways. In the ‘My Portfolios’ tab, you can use their ETF wizard to build one for you, or you can “Create From Scratch” to combine ETFs manually with their ETF screener.
In this example, I am going to select the ‘Create From Scratch’ option.
On the top left, you can input your investment amount (eg. £10,000). To keep things simple in this example, I am going to select ‘One-time Investment’.
You can then search and select your ETFs. The search box allows you to search by Name, ISIN or Ticker. Alternatively, you can use the ‘Advanced Search’ to go to their ETF screener.
So I can show you all of the available features, I am going to create an example ETF portfolio which includes stocks, bonds, precious metals and real estate. I will select ETFs with a range of currencies which use various replication methods. These are not, by any means, recommendations. This is only to highlight certain features of the portfolio builder later on.
Once you have selected your ETFs, you can alter the amounts or percentage weighting. You have a cash weighting too. The portfolio builder will inform you of your fees per year, the 1 year return and 1 year volatility. In this example, the fees per year are 0.12%, the 1 year return was 9.89% and the 1 year volatility was 7.26%.
You can then continue.
In this section, you can select your broker and order fee schedule. JustETF will then calculate how many ETF shares you can buy. In this example case, I set an imaginary order fee of £5 per transaction. Here is the breakdown:
S&P 500 ETF: 105 Shares at £42.52 = £4464.60 + £5 fee
GBP Ultrashort Bond ETF: 39 Shares at £100.37 = £3914.43 + £5 fee
Physical Gold ETC: 26 Shares at £18.44 = £479.44 + £5 fee
European Property Yield ETF: 26 Shares at £37.88 = £984.88 + £5 fee
The total amount invested will be £9843.35 + £20 in fees. The remaining cash balance will be £136.65 and the £20 fee equates to a 0.20% transaction fee.
Once you have confirmed that, you can save your simulated portfolio.
Portfolio Overview and Asset Allocation
This page, which you can navigate to under the ‘My Portfolios’ tab, will tell you the value of your investments, your cost ratio (TER) and your year to date performance. A really useful section can be found by selecting the pie chart in the pie chart tab above ‘Performance’ on the right hand side of the screen.
You will be taken to a page with the header ‘Allocation’. Here you can view a breakdown of your portfolio by asset. In this example case, the portfolio is broken down into Equity, Bonds, Precious Metals, Real Estate and Cash.
Underneath, there are further breakdowns. On JustETF you can click on each pie section to see which ETFs belong in each category:
In this case, 55.36% of the portfolio uses the full replication method (owns all shares in that index). The S&P 500 ETF and the European Property ETF belong in this category. 4.87% is physically backed (by the physical gold ETC) and 39.77% uses optimised sampling (the GBP Ultrashort Bond).
The entire portfolio is invested in ETFs with a fund size of €500 million of greater.
10.01% of the portfolio is invested in Euros (European Property ETF), 39.77% is invested in British Pounds (GBP Ultrashort Bond) and 50.23% is invested in the US dollar (S&P 500 ETF and the Physical Gold ETC).
39.77% of the portfolio has a volatility of 0 to 0.49% (The GBP Ultrashort Bond). 60.23% of the portfolio has a volatility of 10 to 14.99% (all other investments).
Use of Profit:
4.87% of the investments (The Gold ETC) are accumulating (income is reinvested into the ETF). All other investments are distributing (they pay income in cash to the investor).
All the investment funds, in this case, are older than 3 years.
54.64% of the investments are provided by iShares (The GBP Ultrashort Bond, The Physical Gold ETC and the European Property ETF). 45.36% of the investments are provided by Vanguard (The S&P 500 ETF).
All the investment funds are domiciled in Ireland. A domicile is where the fund is located from a legal, regulatory and tax point of view.
Free vs Premium
I used the free version of JustETF and that gave me all of the information I required for my ETF research. But there are 2 premium versions, 'Premium 5' and 'Premium 25'. The only difference between both premium versions is the number of portfolio's you can have. With '5' you can have 5 portfolios and with '25' you can have, you guessed it, 25 portfolios. I will compare the free vs premium versions below.
Free: 1 portfolio, 1 watch list, Order list for your broker and the basic analytics (outlined above)
Premium: Free tools + multiple portfolios (up to 25), unlimited watch lists, detailed reporting, portfolio simulations, monitoring/rebalancing, portfolio data excel export and no banner ads.
Premium features in more detail:
Detailed Reporting: You can analyse your performance in different timescales based on your portfolio, asset class and on the individual ETF level. Calculations can include fees, taxes and dividends, if you require. In the ETF screener tool you can also view dividend yield, risk/return cloud charts and heat maps.
Portfolio Simulations: This, to me, is probably the most useful premium feature for ETF research. You can simulate the historic returns of different portfolios. You can change your allocations and see how these would have performed historically. But always bear in mind, past performance is not a guide to future performance.
Monitoring: JustETF can send you a range of e-mail alerts. You can be alerted when certain limits on your portfolio are surpassed (eg. asset class changes, or single ETF changes). This might be more useful to active investors.
Rebalancing: The website will calculate what you need to buy/sell in order to rebalance your portfolio to your initial target. Whilst I think this feature saves you some calculation (it might help you avoid mistakes), rebalancing is simple if done correctly. I talk about portfolio rebalancing in another article.
I think the free version of Just ETF is one of the best ETF comparison tools out there. The ETF screener tool, in particular, allows you to narrow down your ETF search and compare those funds tracking the same index from different providers. Whilst I would not upgrade to the premium version myself, I could see it justified in some cases. Remember that detailed ETF info will be available through the ETF provider (eg. iShares/Vanguard).
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