How to Choose A Low-Risk ETF

Feb 08, 2022

How To Choose A Low-Risk ETF

Where is the market headed over the next 30-60-90 days? No one knows for certain. Especially as the world continues to feel the effects of inflation, fears the war in Ukraine, and is uncertain about the central bank policy.
Growth investing is where many investors are turning, to balance their portfolios and protect them to the best of their ability against stock market volatility. We use the term “protect” lightly, as there is always a risk associated with investing.
Exchange-traded funds are one of many growth investments. Familiar with them? If not, let’s introduce you to them, especially the low-risk ones, next.

What Is An ETF?

Before you can search the market for ETFs, are you familiar with what they are and how they work?
ETFs, or exchange-traded funds, are low-risk, low-cost, diversified investments traded on the stock market.
Trading similarly to stocks, ETFs have can be:
  • Purchased on margin
  • Sold short
  • Traded at a value refreshed throughout the day, using a ticker symbol
The sister to an ETF is a mutual fund; however, ETFs tend to come bearing lower management fees and tax efficiency.

What Are the Drawbacks to ETFs?

ETFs are a nice investment considering they come with a lower expense ratio than other types, but is there a catch?
Here are some items to consider before deciding on an ETF:
  • Cost to trade - this can exceed the savings investors receive on management fees depending on the trading frequency. Review the costs for commissions in addition to other fees.
  • Careful of the spread - There are two prices associated with buying an ETF. The first is the bid, the second is the ask. Between the bid and the ask is the spread. A high spread is not beneficial, so before buying compare the market price to the intraday value.
  • Management fee - most ETFs come with reduced management fees, but not all of them. This is often called management fee creep and is caused by an increase in marketing expenses by the ETF company or the price to license indexes. Check the expense ratios in comparison to its reciprocal traditional market index fund.
  • Tracking errors - Errors happen and tracking errors with ETFs oftentimes occur with the performance as opposed to its corresponding index.
  • Expected returns - Don’t get caught in the influences companies make to sell their products versus a competitor’s, claiming that theirs may outperform the other or reach higher benchmarks.
  • Dividend yield - Yes, ETFs may come with dividends, or they may not. Many that do not have high yields, though, in comparison to those stocks.

Are You a Low-Risk Investor?

There is nothing against being a low-risk investor. It is a personal preference, implying that you aren’t comfortable taking the risk of losing all of your money. And that is “A-OK!”
Low-risk investors aren’t protected by loss, though. And in terms of gains, the margin may be smaller in the short term. That’s because low risk investing requires time for results to show.

Examples of Investments for Low-Risk Investors

Here is a list of investments low-risk investors may be interested in:
  • High-yield savings accounts - similar to a regular savings account except that the account carries a higher interest rate.
  • Money market accounts - flexible savings accounts earning compound interest; however, to open the account a large minimum deposit may be required, or a minimum balance must be maintained to avoid account fees.
  • Corporate bonds or Series I savings bonds - a secure form of investment whereas investors loan money with the expectation to receive interest on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis through the date of maturity.
  • Certificates of deposit - if you don’t mind your money tied down for a specified period, a CD may be right for you as this type of investment earns a competitive interest rate and carries a maturity date.
This list goes on, but the key phrase to focus on is “slow growth” when it comes to low risk investing.

Pros and Cons of Low-Risk Investments

Low-risk investments remove the unknown or the uncertainty of the investment. They help to maintain a balance in an investment portfolio and provide favorable returns.
Because they are low risk, there are a few areas at stake. Liquidity may become an issue, for example, as the funds need to sit tight to accumulate growth.
Portfolios may also become affected by inflation, depending on how quickly it increases.

Are You Worried About Market Volatility?

Upswings and downswings are going to happen, let’s face it. It’s all a part of the process of investing. How big those swings depend on market volatility and the level of risk you are willing to accept.
If you are a low-risk investor, the answer to this question is likely to be yes. It can be frustrating to lose money, so why not tailor your investment strategy so that you can still gain money in the long-run, and have a reduced risk of loss?

What Strategies Can You Take to Minimize Volatility In the Market?

Consider the following to reduce investment risk:
  • Diversification - Mix up those securities to reach your growth goals. A healthy mix of stocks, bonds, and more could keep your wealth in check. Think of it like a seesaw. If economic factors bring the value of one industry or sector down, the weight of the others could keep it from hitting the ground.
  • Dollar-cost averaging - consistent investing is a strategy investors use, contributing a set amount on a pre-determined basis no matter what the price may be at that given time. This is a solid way to remove emotion from the equation.
  • Allocation - have you checked your portfolio lately and assessed how your assets are spread? Perhaps there is an imbalance between stocks and bonds, and it needs some TLC? The allocation of a portfolio could turn a low risk into a high-risk, so it’s best to keep an eye on it.
  • Herd mentality - monkey see, monkey do. Don’t let this be you. It’s easy to follow along with what the crowd is doing but remember - their investment goals may be different than yours and following them may not provide the outcome you expected.
  • Timing the market - If it were possible to time the market perfectly, everyone would be rich beyond their wildest dreams. But they are not. The market is unpredictable; changing based on numerous factors such as economic factors, global politics, and more.
  • Hold the emotion - Emotions can take the wheel, and investors don’t want to be the passenger on this ride. Moving between bull and bear markets is tedious, and the mind can easily play tricks on you. Supply and demand will shift, but only you can make the best decision with your investment goals in mind.

What Low-Risk ETFs Are Popular Amongst Investors?

Ideally, any ETF with an expense ratio under 1%, containing the largest companies in the U.S. will be in the eye of the investor.
According to VettaFi ETF Database, here are three that were popular on the market as of May 23, 2022.

iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF

The ticker symbol is USMV. It is considered large-cap growth equity, issued by Blackrock Financial Management.
Large-cap ETFs invest in companies with a minimum of $10 billion in market capitalization. On average, the expense ratio is 0.57%.
Here are a few additional facts about USMV:
Expense Ratio: 0.15%
Volume: Average 1 month = 3.7M
Trading Prices (52-week range): $66.99 - $81.33
Annual Dividend Rate: $1.08
Date of Inception: 10/18/2011

JP Morgan Ultra-Short Income ETF

The ticker symbol is JPST. This ETF falls into the category of money markets, being that it invests in short-term debt.
Here are a few additional facts about JPST:
Expense Ratio: 0.18%
Volume: Average 1 month = 3.9M
Trading Prices (52-week range): $50.21 - $50.56
Annual Dividend Rate: $0.41
Date of Inception: 05/17/2017

Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF

The ticker symbol is SPLV. This ETF consists of some of the largest companies in the U.S. The securities included are called “blue chips,” consisting of well-known companies including Apple, IBM, ExxonMobil, and more.
Here are a few additional facts about SPLV:
Expense Ratio: 0.25%
Volume: Average 1 month = 5.9M
Trading Prices (52-week range): $55.59 - $68.52
Annual Dividend Rate: $0.98
Date of Inception: 05/05/2011

The Bottom Line

Broaden your portfolio by adding ETFs into the mix. Investors can quickly gain exposure to securities across various sectors and industries, still trading as they would with any other type of stock.
Consider ETFs for stress-free investing, adding growth to your pocket in the long term. Low-risk ETFs limit risk, making them a smart option when investing your hard-earned cash.
Visit LifeGoal Investments to learn more about our featured ETFs trading on the stock exchange. Our ETFs are risk-managed, diversified, and built for “boring success.”
For current performance and holdings, please visit
For current performance and holdings, please visit
For current performance and holdings, please visit
Carefully consider the Fund’s investment objective, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. This and other additional information may be found in the statutory and summary prospectus, which may be obtained by calling 1-888-920-7275, or by reading the prospectus. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.
Distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC. Member FINRA.
ETFs are only one option when seeking to achieve goals. Prior to investing in any of the LifeGoal ETFs you should consult with your financial advisor to determine whether the specific funds are appropriate for you and, if so, how your investment plan should be implemented. The LifeGoal ETFs are not intended to be short term savings vehicles for payment of monthly expenses.
Investing involves risk, including loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that that Fund will meet its investment objectives. The value of a fund’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. The Fund bears all risks of investment strategies employed by the underlying funds, including the risk that the underlying funds will not meet their investment objectives. ETFs may trade in the secondary market at prices below the value of their underlying portfolios and may not be liquid. Fixed income investments are affected by a number of risks, including fluctuation in interest rates, credit risk, and prepayment risk. In general, as prevailing interest rates rise, fixed income prices will fall. Lower-quality bonds present greater risk, including an increased risk of default. An economic downtown or period of rising interest rates could adversely affect the market for these bonds and reduce the Fund’s ability to sell its bonds. The lack of a liquid market for these bonds could decrease the Fund’s share price. Investments in international markets present special risks including currency fluctuation, the potential for diplomatic and political instability, regulatory and liquidity risks, foreign taxation, and differences in auditing and other financial standards. Exposure to the commodities market may subject the Fund to greater volatility than investments in traditional securities. The Fund is a new ETF with a limited history of operations for investors to evaluate.
Investments made through an ETF and the results that those investments generate are not expected to be the same as those made through any other ETF from LifeGoal Investments, including one with a similar name. Additionally, a new or developing ETF’s performance may not be representative of how that ETF will perform in the future. Newer ETFs that are still developing may not yet have the assets to reach efficient investing and trading status. Furthermore, certain factors may affect the performance of a smaller or developing ETF in its early stages. An ETF may need to sell portions of its portfolio at certain points due to unpredictable purchasing patterns. However, the changes in an ETF’s overall value as the result of an unexpected portfolio change are not expected to be representative of the ETF’s long-term performance.