Covestor Ups Ante in Low-Fee ETF Portfolio Management

ETF Trends

In most instances when an investor wants an advisor or strategist to construct and manage a portfolio of exchange traded funds, a management fee(s) is involved.

Covestor, the Boston-based Internet firm that serves as a matchmaker of sorts for investors and portfolio managers, is blowing away the notion of fee-based managed ETF portfolios. Earlier this week, the company unveiled Covestor Core Portfolios. None of the three all-ETF portfolios that comprise the Covestor core suite charge management fees. Zero. Zilch. Nada and, in honor of the World Cup, nil.

“As one of the industry’s most innovative and powerful investing marketplaces we pride ourselves in offering our clients the broadest set of investing strategies to choose from.  We believe that these no management fee ETF portfolios are a great complement to our 100+ actively managed portfolios run by exceptional money managers,” said Covestor Director of Client Relations Bhargav Shivarthy.

The ETF industry is no stranger to paltry fees on products. Vanguard became the third-largest U.S. ETF issuer in large part due to low fees. Charles Schwab is one of the fastest-growing ETF providers because it is has not been afraid to offer lower expense ratios than even Vanguard. [Vanguard Leads ETF Inflows]

Even entrenched industry giants such as BlackRock’s (BLK) iShares and State Street’s (STT) State Street Global Advisors have shown a willingness to lower fund expenses. [State Street's Quiet Fee Reduction]

Covestor’s no management fee options include the Covestor Moderate Portfolio, which is a 40% equity/60% fixed income mix, and the Covestor Core Balanced Portfolio. The balanced portfolio is 60% in equities and 40% in bonds. The third option, the Covestor Core Growth Portfolio, is 80/20 stocks and bonds.

The portfolios themselves are comprised of low-fee ETFs. For example, the top-five holdings in the Covestor Core Growth Portfolio include the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) , Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) and the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) , which have an average annual expense ratio of just over 0.09%.

AGG, VTI and VWO are also top holdings in the core balanced portfolio. Covestor’s Core Balanced Portfolio holds AGG, the iShares TIPS ETF (TIP) and the iPATH Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index Total Return ETN (DJP) , among others.

“Pricing these Covestor Core portfolios as close to zero as possible for our clients who have been asking for a low-cost, passively managed investment solution is the right thing to do because the marginal cost of adding them to our marketplace is de minimus,” adds Shivarthy.

Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF

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