Winning, and Questionable, ETF Ideas of 2013 | ETF Trends

For better or worse, the exchange traded fund universe is quickly expanding as asset managers merge more investment strategies into an ETF wrapper. While a number of innovative ideas do pop up, there are also some questionable offerings as well.

When considering a new ETF, only the best funds will do, and for the most part, most ETFs may not pass muster.

“I asked a simple question: Would I put my own hard-earned cash into the fund–if not today, at least possibly some time down the road?” Samuel Lee for Morningstar writes. “Most funds fail this strict test because they’re 1) too expensive, 2) run by a fund company I don’t trust, or 3) just plain nonsensical.”

Nevertheless, there are some new ETFs that fit the bill. For instance, Lee points to iShares’ new line of factor funds: the iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (NYSEArca: QUAL), iShares MSCI USA Size Factor ETF (NYSEArca: SIZE), iShares MSCI USA Value Factor ETF (NYSEArca: VLUE) and iShares MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF (NYSEArca: MTUM). The four ETFs also come with a cheap 0.15% expense ratio. [What to Look for in ‘Smart-Beta’ ETFs]

Academics have found four large factors that have attributed to market gains over many decades, including value, momentum, low volatility and quality.