ETFs of ETFs: A better option for small investors

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The Wall Street Journal reports that PowerShares Capital Management LLC (subscription required) has "filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for three new exchange-traded funds that will hold different combinations of other PowerShares stock and bond ETFs."

Here's why this is good for small investors: ETFs with their low expense ratios are a great product, and diversified portfolios of ETFs allow small investors to put together retirement portfolios easily, without the help of an expensive financial adviser.

But there's a problem: If you have a portfolio of $5,000 and divide it up among ten funds and have to pay a commission of $10 per trade, that works out to a front-load of 2% -- then another 2% when you sell. Unless you have a fairly sizable chunk of money to invest, buying multiple ETFs isn't very cost savvy.

Funds of ETFs will be a practical option for a lot of retail investors and could take market share from two groups that deserve to lose market share: financial advisers and big mutual fund companies.

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