It's official. There's an ETF for just about everything. Recently, the new Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL) came to market. SOCL is the first ETF that specifically tracks the performance of companies who are primarily social media companies. No longer are ETFs just for larger cross sections like small cap or large cap companies.
You might not want to run out and buy shares in SOCL yet but if you're an income investor, there are a lot of suitable ETF choices on the market that would help you reach your goals without having to invest in mutual funds.
iShares S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index Fund (PFF)
There's a mountain of research that shows that you can't beat the market and that's just one of the reasons we like index funds. As an index fund, PFF tracks the performance of the S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index. The .48% expense ratio is a bit high for an index fund but still acceptable given the 6.50% SEC dividend yield.
Remember that preferred stock is most commonly issued by banks which is why 82% of this fund's holdings are in bank names. If you're a long term investor holding the ETF for dividends, this is a great choice but expect some rocky roads until the financial sector gets healthy. That could be a while!
Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (BSV)
Not only should you diversify sectors but you should also diversify market risk. The Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF tracks the performance of Barclays Capital U.S. 1-5 Year Government/Credit Float Adjusted Index, an index that tracks investment grade bonds with of maturity of 1-5 years. That translates to a very high degree of safety. Investment grade bonds remove most of the default risk and whatever default risk is left is diversified away given the size of the fund. The 1-5 year maturity dates remove most of the interest rate risk as well.
Even better, this fund has a .11% expense ratio which, according to Vanguard is 87% less than other mutual funds with similar holdings. With a 2% dividend yield, this probably won't be heavily weighted in a younger person's portfolio but it is a highly appropriate choice for those close to retirement who need to think about protecting their assets.
SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY)
The SPDR ETFs are some of the most highly respected ETFs on the market. An astute investor has heard of the SPY which tracks the performance of the S&P 500 but the SPY's not so well known brother, the SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY) is worth a look from any income investor.
This ETF tracks the performance of S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats index giving the income investor exposure to a large cross section of dividend paying stocks. With an expense ratio of only .36% and a 3.25% dividend yield, this is an ETF that shouldn't be overlooked.
Think long and hard before setting out to beat the market. Fund managers with the highest degree of knowledge and resources try and fail year after year. In the case of your money, it may be better to join the market instead of trying to beat it.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.