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Target-Date ETFs That Fit Your Retirement Outlook


With a plethora of available options, investors can sift through hundreds or thousands of stocks and bonds to craft a diversified portfolio. Alternatively, investors with a general time horizon in mind can take a look at target-date exchange traded funds instead.

The “target-date” investment refers to a general time in the future in which an investor is expected to retire and begin cashing in on his or her investments. Target-date ETFs provide a portfolio mix of stocks, bonds and other assets suitable for a target retirement date.

Investors with a longer target date from the present will have a more aggressive target-date portfolio that tilts toward riskier assets like stocks for capital appreciation. As the target date approaches, the fund’s portfolio will shift to more conservative plays.

For instance, the iShares Target Date 2020 ETF (TZG) and the db X-Trackers 2020 Target Date Fund (TDH) are two life-cycle funds designed for investors set to retire around 2020. TZG has a 0.3% expense ratio and TDH has a 0.65% expense ratio.

The two 2020 target date funds have a heavy fixed-income allocation. TZG allocations include domestic fixed income 42.4%, domestic equity 38.3%, international equity 17.7% and domestic real estate 1.6%. TDH has 52.8% in stocks and 46.6% in bonds. [Looking at Target Date ETFs]

The two providers have a suite of target-date ETFs with separate decade-long intervals. Funds with a longer time horizons lean toward equtiies. For example, the iShares Target Date 2040 ETF (TZV) has 54.0% in domestic equities, 26.4% in international equities, 2.2% in domestic real estate and 17.4% in domestic fixed income. The db X-trackers 2040 Target Date Fund (TDV) has 92.8% in stocks and only 6.9% in bonds. TZV has a 0.31% expense ratio and TDV has a 0.65% expense ratio.

In many 401(k) retirement plans, investor contributions are directed to target-date funds, unless otherwise specified, reports Karen Damato for the Wall Street Journal.

Consequently, target-date strategies attracted an estimated 36% of contributions to 401(k) plans last year, according to Cerulli Associates data.

The research firm projects that the share could steadily increase to 63% by 2018 while the share of 401(k) assets in target-date choices will expand to 35% in 2018 from an 17% in 2013.

For more information on life-cycle funds, visit our target-date ETFs category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.