As exchange traded fund providers fuel an ongoing fee war in an attempt to one-up each other to attract assets, investors should look beyond expense ratios and consider other factors that make an ETF suitable for their investment horizon.
Earlier this month, BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) trimmed the fees on seven of its iShares Core ETFs, with the Shares Core S&P Total US Stock Market ETF (NYSEArca: ITOT) showing an expense ratio of 0.03%. ITOT was the cheapest on the block for a brief moment. [The New Cheapest ETF In The U.S. Is A Familiar Face]
Not to be outdone, Charles Schwab lowered fees by one basis point on four of its large-cap ETFs in response, with the Schwab U.S. Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: SCHX) and Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (NYSEArca: SCHB) both coming in at a low 0.03% expense ratio. [Schwab Responds to iShares Fee Cuts]
The tit-for-tat fee cuts have been a way for many fund providers to attract long-term investment interest. As many ETF industry observers have seen, low fund fees have equated to increased asset inflows. Through October, Schwab has seen 24% more inflows than last year’s $8.8 billion, reports Crystal Kim for Barron’s. Inflows at BlackRock and Vanguard, while far larger, fell behind last year’s inflows of 11% and 26%, respectively.
However, for investors, low fees is only a part of the overall picture. There are a number other factors than people should consider when committing to a long-term investment.