“Target date” mutual funds that help individuals invest for retirement have been a popular theme in the asset management industry, and ETFs have embraced the trend.

These ETFs target the desired retirement date. The portfolio is designed to become more conservative toward the end of the predetermined investment time period through asset allocation.

When target date and “life-cycle” mutual funds first hit the investment scene, the portfolio would typically invest in other mutual funds. The new life-cycle ETFs do the same, only they invest in other ETFs. Some life-cycle ETFs also invest in stocks and bonds in combination with other ETFs to create the right allocation.

The correct allocation will depend upon the desired retirement or target date, which will be determined before investing. The date is usually part of the name of the fund. At the beginning of the fund’s inception, the ETF will invest in stocks, with bonds or fixed income given a small allocation. As the predetermined date approaches, or the fund matures, the amount invested in stocks is adjusted to less, and the assets are shifted into bonds or a more conservative allocation. [The ETF Cycle Has Brought Life-Cycle Funds]