Exchange traded funds can offer lower-risk, steady returns, and low management fees. But you need to choose wisely, and focus on the best conservative ETFs
We still feel that investors will profit the most with a well-balanced portfolio of high-quality individual stocks, but ETFs can also play a role in a portfolio. Here are some tips on how to find the best conservative ETFs.
How to Make Money with ETFs
Learn everything you need to know in 'The ETF Investor's Handbook' for FREE from The Successful Investor.
ETFs Guide for Canadian Investors: Find the best way to invest in ETFs with low fees, low risk & high satisfaction.
First, a look at what makes a conservative investor…
A conservative investor is typically someone who builds a stock portfolio with the goal of achieving steady returns, including dividends, while maintaining a lower level of risk.
Conservative investors are persistently curious. They recognize that most investment professionals know more about investing than they do, because they devote their lives to it. But they also know you can get more knowledge than most investors if you simply read widely and ask lots of questions.
Conservative investors also recognize that some of your most promising investments will disappoint you, since no one can predict the future. That makes diversification a key part of conservative investing.
Characteristics of the best conservative ETFs
The best conservative ETFs represent a low-cost, tax-efficient way for investors to make money over the long term. They offer well-diversified portfolios with exceptionally low management fees.
However, we think you should stick with “traditional” ETFs. Traditional ETFs follow the lead of whoever sponsors the index, although the sponsors do from time to time change the stocks that make up the index. They also can tinker with the rules for calculating the index. ETFs change their portfolio holdings to reflect these changes, without considering the impact those changes may have on the performance of the ETF portfolio.
However, when an investment product faces booming demand as ETFs do today, investment companies try to expand sales by creating “new” versions of the underlying formula.
These “new” ETFs use a conventional stock-market index as a base, but add their own refinements. These refinements are tailored to current investor preferences or prejudices. That’s distinctly different from traditional ETFs, which, as mentioned, simply aim to mimic an index. These newer, theme varieties may attract attention—and sales—but they frequently carry higher management expense ratios (MERs).
In some cases, new ETFs may provide investment benefits but not consistently. In fact, they may hurt results in the long run. The worst cases are bad enough to turn investor profits into losses. One sure result is that the higher MERs will cut into the value of your ETF portfolio every year.
Another drawback with many new ETFs is how much easier they make it for investors to act on an urge to invest in a specific stock or stock group…without doing any messy and time-consuming research. If you want to invest in cryptocurrencies or gold stocks or Swedish stocks or wind power stocks, or any of hundreds of other stock groups, you can almost certainly find an ETF that will let you act on that urge. However, that may not produce the best results.
Keep long-term conservative investing goals in view
In our view, your goal as an investor, particularly if you follow a conservative investing strategy like the one we recommend, is to make an attractive return on your investments over a period of years or decades. Failure means making bad investments that leave you with meagre profits or even with losses.
Unsuccessful investors can still make some profits. They just don’t make enough to offset the inevitable losses and leave themselves with an attractive return. If you focus on the idea that you will never go broke taking a profit, you may be tempted to sell your best investments whenever it seems the investment outlook is clouding over.
Why we recommend the Successful Investor approach for investing in the best conservative ETFs, or any investments for that matter
First, invest mainly in ETFs that hold mostly well-established companies. When the market goes into a lengthy downturn, these stocks generally keep paying their dividends, and they are among the first to recover when conditions improve.
Second, avoid or downplay ETFs that follow themes in the broker/media limelight. That limelight tends to raise investor expectations to excessive levels. When companies fail to live up to expectations, these stocks and the ETFs that hold them can plunge. Remember, when expectations are excessive, occasional failure to live up to them is virtually guaranteed in the long term if not in the shorter haul.
Third, focus on traditional ETFs that have stocks with assets spread across most if not all of the five main economic sectors (Manufacturing & Industry; Resources & Commodities; Consumer; Finance; and Utilities). This helps you avoid excess exposure to any one segment of the market that is headed for trouble. This will also dampen your portfolio’s volatility in the long term.
By following our conservative philosophy, you can attain what we’d call the best of all possible investment worlds: a heads-you-win, tails-you-break-even situation. When times are good, it can be extraordinarily profitable. But during the inevitable market downturns, it cuts your losses and leaves you well positioned to profit again in the inevitable recovery.
What has your experience with new ETFs been like? Have they brought more risk to your portfolio?
What is your opinion on conservative ETFs? Are they outdated or do you think they deserve more attention?
The privacy of the site/store visitor is very important to TSI Network, and is respected at all times. The information we receive from customers helps us to personalize and continually improve your online experience at TSI Network.
We do not collect or disclose personal information, except when it is provided to us voluntarily by the site/store visitor with their consent.
We store subscriber and password files containing personal information securely. These files are stored in secure areas that are not accessible to the general public. We are always working to ensure the security of your personal information.
What personal information do we collect?
The information we receive from customers helps us personalize and continually improve your online experience at TSI Network. TSI Network may collect personal information online for all legal purposes, which include, but are not limited to:
Information You Give Us: We receive and store any information you enter on our website or give us in any other way through sign-up forms or ordering forms for publications and services. You can choose not to provide certain information, but then you might not be able to take advantage of many of our services and features. We use the information that you provide for such purposes as responding to your requests, customizing your web browsing experience for you, improving our website, and communicating with you.
Automatic Information: We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with us. For example, like many websites, we use "cookies," and we obtain certain types of information when your web browser accesses TSI Network.
Information from Other Sources: For reasons such as improving personalization of our service (for example, providing better product recommendations or special offers that we think will interest you), we might receive information about you from other sources and add it to our account information. We also sometimes receive updated delivery and address information from our shippers or other sources so that we can correct our records and deliver your next purchase or communication more easily.
We do reserve the right, however, to collect and perform statistical analyses of the internet traffic to our website for our internal use. However, information collected does not allow us to identify any individual, and will not collect any personal information of the visitor. Furthermore, we do not sell, rent or loan to any outside parties the information collected and analyzed.
Although you may be able to access some of our websites without being required to register or provide personal information, certain websites and sections of our websites may require registration. In addition, if you choose to contact us to ask a question, we will collect your personal information so that we can respond to your question.
To make the visitor’s experience on our website easier, we may use per-session “cookies” (session identifiers) to track the state of the visitor session. This “cookie” is destroyed when your session with our website is over.
Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that we transfer to your computer's hard drive through your web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser and to provide features like "Remember Me" for our paying subscribers. Cookies are also used during the ordering process to help ensure your order is handled correctly. We do not extract any information about individual users or their computers as a part of this process.
The "Help" portion of the toolbar on most browsers will tell you how to prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, how to have the browser notify you when you receive a new cookie, or how to disable cookies altogether. However, cookies allow you to take full advantage of some of TSI Network's most useful features, and may be required to access certain areas of our website.
Internet Protocol (or IP) addresses are collected for all visitors to this site. This information is used for the purposes of traffic analysis.
Does TSI Network Use the Information It Receives?
"Contact Us" and Comment Features: TSI Network encourages visitors to its websites to contact us with questions and comments. Email addresses and other information of persons using these features may be collected in order to facilitate our responses to those inquiries.
Purchases of Merchandise: TSI Network websites may offer individuals the opportunity to purchase branded or other merchandise online. In connection with those purchases, customers may be asked to submit personal information, such as shipping addresses and credit card information, which is required to complete the transaction. TSI Network may also offer a Membership program, through which purchasers of its products may receive discounts on their online purchases. Membership registration may involve the submission of personal information to TSI Network and assignment of a user ID and password.
Agents: We employ other companies and individuals to perform functions on our behalf. Examples include fulfilling orders, delivering packages, sending postal mail and email, removing repetitive information from customer lists, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, but may not use it for other purposes.
Promotional Offers: We may make our postal mailing list available to organizations offering products or services that might interest you. If you prefer NOT to receive these offers, please send an email with your name and address to email@example.com with "Do Not Rent Name" in the subject line. We do NOT make our email list available outside our organization.
Protection of TSI Network and Others: We release account and other personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with law; enforce the terms of the Legal notices that accompany this policy; or protect the rights, property or safety of TSI Network, our users or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organizations for fraud protection and credit risk reduction.
In addition to these limited disclosures of personal information, TSI Network may provide its affiliates or unaffiliated third parties with aggregate information about visitors to our sites. For example, we might disclose the median ages of visitors to our websites, or the numbers of visitors to our websites that come from different geographic areas. Such aggregate information will not include information of any individual visitors to our websites.
TSI Network may provide personal and other information to a purchaser or successor entity in connection with the sale of TSI Network, a subsidiary or line of business associated with TSI Network, or substantially all of the assets of TSI Network or one of its subsidiaries, affiliates or lines of business.
With Your Consent: Other than as set out above, you will receive notice when information about you might go to third parties, and you will have an opportunity to choose not to share the information.
Except as provided herein, TSI Network will not sell or rent personal information about you to unaffiliated third parties.
We may disclose personal information you have provided through our websites, for the above purposes, to persons or companies that we retain to carry out and other activities for which you have registered or in which you have otherwise asked to participate. In particular, we may for these purposes transfer information to any country (including the USA and other countries which may not offer the same level of data protection as Canada). We also will disclose personal information if required by law, including compliance with warrants, subpoenas or other legal processes.
TSI Network requires persons and companies to which it discloses personal information to restrict their use of such information to the purposes for which it has been provided by TSI Network, to adequately protect the information, and not to disclose that information to others. TSI Network cannot be responsible, however, for any damages caused by the failure of unaffiliated third parties to honour their privacy obligations to TSI Network. Similarly, TSI Network is not responsible for the privacy policies and practices of other websites that are linked to our websites.
We’re always happy to receive feedback, comments and ideas from TSI Network visitors, and we encourage you to add your perspective to any issue by leaving your comments on the site.
To make sure users get the most out of the site’s comments function, we’ve provided a few guidelines:
Do not post threatening, harassing, defamatory, or libelous material.
Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements.
Do not offer to sell or buy any product or service.
Do not post material that infringes copyright.
Do not post information that you know to be confidential or sensitive or otherwise in breach of the law.
TSI Network will not accept responsibility for information posted in the comments.
Please note that we reserve the right to delete or edit all comments. As well, we may close posts to further comments at our discretion. If a user repeatedly abuses our comment policy, we may also revoke that user’s access to our comments section.
By commenting on TSI Network, you agree that you retain all ownership rights in what you post on the site, and that you will relieve us from any and all liability that may result from those postings.
Special Note for Parents
TSI Network does not sell products for purchase by children. If you are under 18, you may use TSI Network's site only with involvement of a parent or guardian
How do we protect your personal information?
TSI Network does everything possible to prevent unauthorized intrusion to its websites and the alteration, acquisition or misuse of personal information by unauthorized persons. Notably passwords submitted by users of our websites are encrypted using encryption mechanisms. However, TSI Network cautions visitors to its websites that no network, including the Internet, is entirely secure. Accordingly, we cannot be responsible for loss, corruption or unauthorized acquisition of personal information provided to our websites, or for any damages resulting from such loss, corruption or unauthorized acquisition.
How do we maintain the integrity of your personal information?
TSI Network has procedures in place to keep your personal information accurate, complete and current for the purposes for which it is collected and used. You may review the information that you have provided to us and where appropriate you may request that it be corrected. If you wish to review your personal information please send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I withdraw my consent to use Personal Information? Access, Correction, Inquiries and Complaints
If you wish to request access to, or correction of, your personal information in our custody or control, or find out how we've used or disclosed that information, please make your request in writing to us. We may need to verify your identity before searching for or providing you with personal information. In some circumstances, we may not be able to provide access to your personal information, for example if it contains the personal information of other persons, if it constitutes confidential commercial information, or if it is protected by solicitor-client privilege. If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct, your personal information, we will advise you of the reasons for this refusal.
If you do not want to receive promotional offers, please notify TSI Network by sending an email to email@example.com.
The provision of information by you is entirely voluntary and you have the right not to provide information. Subject to applicable law, you may have the right to receive certain information as to whether or not personal information relating to you is held by TSI Network and to obtain a copy of such information that is sought. You may also have the right to require information, where appropriate, to be erased, blocked or made anonymous or to have data updated or corrected. If you do not wish TSI Network to hold information about you or if you wish to have access to information, modify information, or object to any processing of information or if you have questions please contact us.
What Choices Do I Have?
As discussed, you can always choose not to provide information even though it might be needed to make a purchase or to take advantage of TSI Network features.
You can add or update certain information as explained in the section "How Can I Change My Information?"
If you do not want to receive email or other mail from us, please notify TSI Network by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to this Policy
This Policy is the sole authorized statement of TSI Network's practices with respect to the collection of personal information through TSI Network's websites and the subsequent use and disclosure of such information. Any summaries of this Policy generated by third party software or otherwise (for example, in connection with the "Platform for Privacy Preferences" or "P3P") shall have no legal effect, are in no way binding upon TSI Network, shall not be relied upon in substitute for this Policy, and neither supersede nor modify this Policy.
TSI Network may revise this Policy from time to time.
Legal Notices and Disclaimers
The contents of this web site and our publications are based upon sources of information believed to be reliable, but no warranty or representation, expressed or implied, is given as to their accuracy or completeness. Any opinion reflects the Successful Investor’s judgment at the date of publication and neither the Successful Investor, nor any of its affiliated companies, nor any of their officers, directors or employees, accepts any responsibility in respect of the information or recommendations contained in the publications or on this web site. Moreover, the information or recommendations are subject to change without notice.
Information presented on this web site or contained in our publications is not an offer, nor a solicitation, to buy or sell any securities referred to on the web site or in the publications. The material is general information intended for recipients who understand the risks associated with an investment in any securities referred to in the publications or on this web site. The Successful Investor has made no determination regarding whether an investment, course of action, or associated risks are suitable for the recipient.
You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are already a subscriber, use the form below to log in.
Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps people live more sustainable, self-reliant lives, with feature stories on tending the garden, managing the homestead, raising healthy livestock and more!
You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are already a subscriber, use the form below to log in.
Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps the small-scale poultry enthusiast raise healthy, happy, productive flocks for eggs, meat or fun - from the countryside to the urban homestead!