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10 Free Tools Every ETF Investor Should Bookmark

There are several free tools that make shopping for ETFs much easier.

As the number of ETFs has multiplied in recent years, investors and advisors looking to build cost-efficient portfolios have found themselves with the luxury of choice. With many options for many investment objectives, identifying the optimal fund can take a bit of work. Fortunately, there are a number of screeners, watchlists, comparison tools and portfolio builders available.

Below is a list of the best free ETF tools out there. The list, which is presented in alphabetical order, includes tools maintained by both independent sites and ETF issuers.

Update August 31, 2015: We have just launched our own database of ETFs here at ETF Reference, which has been inserted below as Tool #0.

Tool #0: ETF Reference Database

Our very own database of ETFs organizes every exchange traded fund into assets classes, categories, and sub-categories, allowing for data on broad asset classes such as all Stock ETFs, but also data on more granular sub-categories such as all U.S. Large-Cap ETFs, for example. In the future, we will use this data to power analytic tools and an ETF screener.

Tool #1: Asset Correlation Table

This correlation table tool is pretty basic, but a great way to easily pull data points that can be very difficult to pin down. The default view is a data table showing the correlation between major asset classes (as represented by ETFs) that can be adjusted for different periods of time. If you sign up for a free account here, you’ll get the ability to customize your correlation matrix to compare specific products.

Tool #2: Barchart 52 Week Highs and Lows

Barchart’s lists of all ETFs hitting 52-week highs or lows during the current trading session can help to identify standouts or laggards in any market. There are often some surprising components of both lists, which can lead to some interesting investment ideas.

This site also has similar lists showing ETFs hitting all-time highs and lows. Although at least in the current environment, there is often significant overlap.

Tool #3: ETFdb Country Exposure Tool

The ETFdb country exposure tool lets investors find ETFs that have exposure to stock markets around the globe. After clicking on a country (or selecting from a dropdown for the geographically challenged), users will see a list of ETFs whose holdings include stocks from that country.

The results include both pure-play country ETFs that specifically target a single country, as well as more diversified funds that may have only partial exposure to the desired economy.

Disclosure: Investors in Poseidon Financial LLC (the publisher of this site) currently own an interest in Mitre Media Corp. (the publisher of ETFdb.com).

Tool #4: ETF.com Fund Flows Tool

The ETF.com fund flows tool is a robust resource for tracking movements of investor cash in and out of all ETFs. This data can be useful in determining current levels of investor sentiment toward individual funds, which can be indicative of upcoming price movements.

In addition to a list of the biggest absolute dollar inflows and outflows, the tool can be customized to show data for individual products as well.

Tool #5: ETF Replay Portfolio Backtest Tool

The ETF Replay portfolio backtester lets users see how a particular portfolio of ETFs would have performed in the past. There are a ton of options built into this tool, including different rebalancing strategies, custom time periods, and comparisons to various benchmarks.

ETF Replay has some other great tools as well, including resources focusing on correlation, historical dividend yield, and more.

Tool #6: Finviz ETF Heat Map

The Finviz ETF heatmap is a great tool to quickly understand the relative performances of all major asset classes, as represented by ETFs. It should be immediately obvious which corners of the market are leading and lagging over various timeframes, and identifying segments that may warrant further investigation.

Finviz has similar heatmaps for S&P 500 components and global stock markets as well.

Tool #7: High-Yield ETF List

The Dividend Detective high-yield ETF list provides one of the most frequently sought out ETF screens: funds with the highest dividend yields. Again, there are a number of sites that feature this information, but Dividend Detective stands out as both reliable and timely.

Tool #8: iShares Core Portfolio Builder Tool

The iShares portfolio builder asks users a series of five questions designed to determine their investment objectives and attitudes toward risk. The output is a model all-ETF portfolio covering major asset classes and customized based on the answers to the questions. While it probably makes sense to put a bit more thought into your portfolio than the minute or two it takes to complete this process, this tool is a great starting point in determining a strategy and an effective illustration of the simple but powerful nature of ETFs.

Tool #9: XTF Fund Exposure Tool

XTF allows users to take a look under the hood of more than 1,000 ETFs to see breakdowns by sector, country, and other metrics. While many sites offer similar data, there are a couple of features that set this site apart. In addition to a visual breakdown of the components of an ETF, this site is very granular in its sector classification and offers a currency exposure breakdown for stock ETFs.

Tool #10: Vanguard Fund Comparison Tool

The Vanguard fund comparison tool is useful for those looking to cut costs as thoroughly as possible. In addition to being one of the largest ETF issuers, Vanguard also has a full line of mutual funds. This tool offers Vanguard fans a way to compare the expenses of different fund options — and proves that in some cases mutual funds are the better option for cost-conscious investors. The output is a comparison of expenses paid in different (but similar) vehicles given a series of time and return inputs. If you’ve never considered mutual funds as a low-cost option, this tool is worth a spin.

Know of another ETF-related tool that we missed? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About the Author: Michael Johnston

Michael Johnston is senior analyst for ETF Reference, and also serves as COO of parent company Poseidon Financial. His investment expertise has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and USA Today, among other publications. He resides in Chicago.


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