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5 Excellent ETFs for Your IRA

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With the tax filing deadline of April 18 a little over four weeks away, investors still have some time to make contributions to their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for the 2016 tax year. While some prefer traditional IRAs, many others favor Roth IRAs; both these retirement products provide amazing tax benefits.

IRAs allow investors to buy individual stocks, bonds, ETFs or mutual funds.  ETFs are becoming increasingly popular with investors due to their low cost, transparency and tax efficiency. (Read: 6 Solid Reasons to Buy Financials ETFs Now)

ETFs are excellent tools for retirement investors as well since they provide an easy way to build a diversified portfolio at a low cost. Further, income paying ETFs are better placed in an IRA as income is sheltered from taxes.

Before investing for retirement, investors need to assess their investing goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. They need to remember that performance of an investment portfolio depends mostly on asset allocation, i.e. how an investor allocates money among major asset classes such as stocks, bonds, alternative assets and cash.

Low-cost, broad, diversified funds are more suitable for retirement investors as core, long-term investments rather than costly, narrow-focused or niche ETFs, which should mainly be used as shorter-term tactical trading vehicles. (Read: Sector ETFs to Win or Lose Post Jobs Data)

Expense ratio of an ETF should be an important consideration in retirement investing, as in the long-term, cheaper funds can significantly outperform their more expensive counterparts, other things remaining the same.

Below we have highlighted five ETFs that are excellent long-term investments for retirement accounts.

iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF (ITOT)

ITOT is a convenient way to get exposure to the entire US stock universe, ranging from some of the smallest to largest companies at an extremely low cost of just 3 basis points. It holds more than 3,600 stocks in its basket and should be a core holding in any long-term focused portfolio. (Read: Why Do Equal Weight ETFs Outperform?)

Apple (AAPL - Free Report) , Microsoft (MSFT) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are its top holdings.

Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG)         

VIG is the most popular ETF in the dividend space with AUM exceeding $24 billion. The fund holds high quality stocks that have a record of increasing dividends over the past decade. The product currently holds 185 securities in its basket.

The ETF charges just 9 bps in annual fees while its dividend yield is 2.00%.

Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Value ETF (SCHV)

Numerous academic studies have shown that value stocks have delivered higher returns with lower volatility compared with growth stocks over the long term in almost all the markets studied. Given their proven performance over long term, value stocks and funds should be a predominant part of any ‘core’ portfolio.

SCHV provides broad exposure to large-cap U.S. stocks with value style characteristics.

It has an expense ratio of just 4 basis points, while the dividend yield at 2.5% is quite attractive.

Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta US Large Cap Equity ETF (GSLC

GSLC was the first in a series of smart beta ETFs that track Goldman Sachs’s proprietary indexes. This product is based on four factors--good value, strong momentum, high quality and low volatility.

These factors usually outperform in different market conditions and in fact, value and momentum tend to complement each other. By combining those different factors, this ETF has a good chance of producing superior results over the long term.

Further, with an expense ratio of just 9 basis points, it is one of the cheapest products in the smart beta space.

Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCIT)

VCIT is an excellent option for fixed income investing focused on long-term. I like it better than the total bond ETFs like AGG and BND in the current rising rate scenario since total bond ETFs have outsized exposure to Treasuries. Further, intermediate-term focus also reduces its interest rate sensitivity.

It has a yield of 3.4% currently while it charges just 7 basis points to provide exposure to a basket of more than 1,800 bonds high-quality corporate bonds.

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