The Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (NYSEArca: VTI) recently became the third US-listed exchange traded fund to reach $100 billion in assets under management. The other two are S&P 500 tracking ETFs, but for some investors VTI and other total market funds could be better alternatives to the S&P 500.

A year ago, VTI had about $82 billion in assets under management. VTI tracks the CRSP U.S. Total Market Index, which includes almost every liquid U.S. stock on the market. VTI offers a notable alternative to standard S&P 500 index funds at a time when equities are perking up.

“The total stock market fund covers large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap stocks, while the S&P 500 covers only the large-cap universe,” reports CNBC. “The popularity of the total stock market approach also is taking place within Vanguard’s ETF lineup. Vanguard’s Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) recently became only the third ETF to pass the $100 billion mark in assets.”

Although VTI holds 3,654 stocks, far more than reside in the S&P 500, the ETF’s returns are often on par with the S&P 500. Over the past three years, VTI is up 56.4%, just slightly behind the 57.1% returned by the S&P 500. VTI and the S&P 500 have been similarly volatile over that period.

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