ETFs and their expense ratios

In general we tend to think of ETFs as lower expense ratio funds on average than mutual funds. But I looked at the expense ratios of the ETFs in a database of around 1700 ETFs and it is interesting to note that more specialized the strategies higher their expense ratios. For example, look at the following list:

Short Government, 0.13
Intermediate Government, 0.15
Long Government, 0.16
Inflation-Protected Bond, 0.17
Corporate Bond, 0.18
Intermediate-Term Bond, 0.19

On the other end of the spectrum are the following categories which are highly specialized:

Managed Futures. 0.87
Trading-Inverse Equity, 0.94
Tactical Allocation, 1.03
Market Neutral, 1.03
Volatility, 1.14
Commodities Agriculture, 1.21

In the middle of the spectrum, we find the following categories:

Large Blend, 0.42
World Stock, 0.44
Mid-Cap Growth, 0.44
World Bond, 0.46
Emerging Markets Bond, 0.53
Diversified Emerging Mkts, 0.59
Foreign Small/Mid Value, 0.59
Foreign Large Growth, 0.68

Again these numbers are in percentages, and these are only averages for the categories mentioned. So some of the funds in the category will be more than the averages and some less. This study probably will not come as a surprise to many, but I thought to document it just to have some numbers in case we need to refer to this later.

Diversified Pacific/Asia 0.12
Short-Term Bond 0.12
Short Government 0.125
Intermediate Government 0.15
Long Government 0.15
Intermediate-Term Bond 0.155
Long-Term Bond 0.195
Corporate Bond 0.2
Inflation-Protected Bond 0.2
Muni National Short 0.2
Muni California Long 0.23
Muni New York Long 0.23
Ultrashort Bond 0.24
Muni National Interm 0.245
Muni California Intermediate 0.25
Muni New York Intermediate 0.25
Small Growth 0.275
Muni National Long 0.28
Large Blend 0.29
Large Value 0.32
Foreign Large Blend 0.33
Conservative Allocation 0.34
High Yield Muni 0.35
Large Growth 0.35
Small Blend 0.35
Small Value 0.35
Financial 0.375
Mid-Cap Value 0.39
Convertibles 0.4
Mid-Cap Blend 0.4
Real Estate 0.4
Single Currency 0.4
World Stock 0.425
Communications 0.43
Consumer Cyclical 0.43
Health 0.43
High Yield Bond 0.43
Industrials 0.43
Foreign Small/Mid Blend 0.43
Japan Stock 0.44
Equity Energy 0.45
Utilities 0.45
Europe Stock 0.45
World Bond 0.45
Consumer Defensive 0.47
Foreign Large Value 0.47
Mid-Cap Growth 0.47
Global Real Estate 0.48
Technology 0.48
Aggressive Allocation 0.5
Emerging Markets Bond 0.5
Nontraditional Bond 0.5
Pacific/Asia ex-Japan Stk 0.5
Preferred Stock 0.5
Natural Resources 0.52
Equity Precious Metals 0.57
Miscellaneous Region 0.58
Foreign Large Growth 0.585
Foreign Small/Mid Value 0.59
World Allocation 0.59
Commodities Precious Metals 0.6
Diversified Emerging Mkts 0.6
Latin America Stock 0.62
Bank Loan 0.64
Miscellaneous Sector 0.64
China Region 0.65
Multicurrency 0.735
Commodities Agriculture 0.75
Commodities Broad Basket 0.75
Commodities Energy 0.75
Commodities Industrial Metals 0.75
Commodities Miscellaneous 0.75
Trading-Inverse Commodities 0.75
Multialternative 0.76
Moderate Allocation 0.775
Energy Limited Partnership 0.785
Long/Short Equity 0.8
India Equity 0.865
Managed Futures 0.885
Market Neutral 0.9
Volatility 0.905
Trading-Inverse Debt 0.95
Trading-Inverse Equity 0.95
Trading-Leveraged Commodities 0.95
Trading-Leveraged Debt 0.95
Trading-Leveraged Equity 0.95
Trading-Miscellaneous 0.95
Tactical Allocation 1.25
Bear Market 1.65