For risk-averse investors, there are still ways to gain exposure to foreign markets with exchange traded funds (ETFs) and minimizing the homework involved with single stock-picking.

Todd Wenning for The Motley Fool points out The Economist‘s list of the most risk-averse countries, where global operational risk is lower. Criteria studied involved economic, government and systemic factors. Based on that, the publication came up with: Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Singapore.

Interesting: the United States ranked 25th on the list, behind Cyprus and Estonia.

For an all-in-one diversification investment tool, ETFs in foreign developed markets of interest are:

  • iShares MSCI EAFE (EFA)
  • Vanguard Europe Pacific ETF (VEA)
  • iShares MSCI Sweden (SWE)
  • iShares MSCI Singaopre (EWS)

The fact that a country or company is operationally safe doesn’t make it a definite "buy," though. This information is merely a starting point, and it’s a good idea to do your own homework.

It should also be noted that these countries are developed markets, so the growth potential within them isn’t the same as it would be in emerging economies.

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.