In the investment community, millennials get plenty of attention. Whether it is the wealth millennials stand to one day inherit from their parents, trends tied to the generation’s spending habits or the specific investments being embraced by millennials, the generation with birthdays ranging from 1980 to 2000 is on Wall Street’s radar in significant fashion.
One thing is clear: millennial investors like exchange-traded funds (ETFs). According to a Charles Schwab survey released in June 2018, nine in 10 millennials view ETFs as important to portfolios and a third of those investors have dumped other investments in favor all-ETF portfolios. Even if they’re not millennial ETFs specifically, they like investing with these funds.
“The move is coming at the expense of individual stocks, with more than half of millennials surveyed saying they dumped all their equity holdings for ETFs,” according to CNBC.
ETFs are an ideal way for other investors to access millennial themes and trends, but investors should note there are important differences between “millennial ETFs,” or those that appear geared toward themes tied to this generation, and ETFs millennials themselves like.
Let’s take a look at some millennial ETFs as well as some other funds younger investors often embrace.
Millennial ETFs: Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
Expense Ratio: 0.04%, or $4 per $10,000 invested annually.
Millennials’ reasons for embracing ETFs are basically the same as the reasons found among other generations. Among other reasons, millennials like having the ability to access a broad basket of stocks under one umbrella at a low cost. The Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (NYSEARCA:VTI), while not a millennial ETF specifically, checks all of those boxes.
With its annual fee of just 0.04%, VTI is cheaper than all but a handful of U.S.-listed ETFs and this Vangurd fund is one of just four ETFs with more than $100 billion in assets under management.
VTI holds nearly 3,600 stocks with a median market value of $70.3 billion, but its holdings span the large-, mid- and small-cap segments. The technology and financial services sectors combine for more than 39% of VTI’s weight.
Invesco QQQ (QQQ)
Expense Ratio: 0.2%
The Invesco QQQ (NASDAQ:QQQ), the Nasdaq-100 tracking ETF, is not a dedicated millennial ETF either, but like the aforementioned VTI, this is one of the most popular ETFs among “Gen Y” investors. QQQ recently turned 20 years old, meaning some of the older millennials that have been actively following financial markets for significant portions of their lives grew up with QQQ.
QQQ has credibility as a millennial ETF because many of the fund’s marquee holdings are purveyors of products and services widely used by millennials. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) combine for over 24% of QQQ’s weight.
Another reason QQQ has credibility as a millennial ETF is the fund’s almost 62% weight to growth stocks. Younger investors can be more heavily allocated to growth stocks than retirement investors because the benefit of time allows younger investors to ride out some of the volatility associated with growth fare.
Global X Millennials Thematic ETF (MILN)
Expense Ratio: 0.68%
As its name implies, the Global X Millennials Thematic ETF (NASDAQ:MILN) is in fact a millennial ETF. MILN, which debuted nearly three years ago, tracks the Indxx Millennials Thematic Index.
This millennial ETF’s holdings “come from a broad range of categories, including: social media and entertainment, food and dining, clothing and apparel, health and fitness, travel and mobility, education and employment, housing and home goods, and financial services,” according to Global X.
MILN is heavily exposed to the communication services and consumer discretionary sectors and the fund features plenty of large-cap fare, such as Amazon, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
While this millennial ETF is performing admirably in 2019 with a gain of over 20%, adoption of the fund has been slow as highlighted by its roughly $35 million in assets under management.
ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)
Expense Ratio: 0.75%
The status of the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSEARCA:MJ) as a millennial ETF should be taken as an implication that all millennials indulge in marijuana. However, data confirm that many millennial ETFs are also thematic ETFs and that Gen Y investors do love MJ.
Nearly 36,000 millennial investors on the popular Robinhood investment app are involved with MJ, ranking the fund 46th on that platform, according to Business Insider.
Any investor, millennial or otherwise, that bought MJ late last year is loving life right as the fund is up nearly 54% this year, making it one of 2019’s best-performing non-leveraged ETFs. Currently, MJ is the only dedicated cannabis fund listed in the U.S.
Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence ETF (BOTZ)
Expense Ratio: 0.68%.
The fund has almost 17,000 millennial investors on Robinhood, ranking it 88th on the platform, reports Business Insider. Home to $1.58 billion in assets, BOTZ follows the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index and is one of the largest robotics ETFs in the world.
BOTZ, which is up 20% this year, makes for an ideal millennial ETF. The fund is levered to fast-growing investment theme with long-term durability, but it is essentially a growth fund with volatility metrics that are significantly higher than the broader market.
iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF (IUSG)
Expense Ratio: 0.04%
As has been noted throughout this piece, millennial investors have the luxury of longer investment horizons, meaning they can and should embrace the growth factor. They can do just that in cost-effective fashion with the iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF (NASDAQ:IUSG).
This millennial ETF targets the S&P 900 Growth Index and his home to nearly 540 stocks, giving it a larger roster than S&P 500 Growth Index funds. For a growth ETF, IUSG’s volatility metrics are more than tolerable. The fund’s three-year standard deviation of just over 12% compares favorably with traditional broader market strategies and value funds.
Like many growth funds, IUSG is heavily allocated to some combination of the technology, communication services and consumer discretionary sectors. Those groups combine for over half of IUSG’s weight. The fund is up about 14% this year and is one of the most attractively priced growth ETFs on the market.
Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF (USSG)
Expense Ratio: 0.1%
Millennials are being looked to as important drivers of growth for socially responsible and environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds. If millennials do come calling for ESG funds, the newly minted Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF (NYSEARCA:USSG) is poised to benefit.
USSG debuted earlier this month and is already one of the largest ESG ETFs in the U.S. This millennial ETF is not even two weeks old and it already has nearly $872 million in assets under management, according to issuer data. USSG has the potential to more socially conscious investors with an annual fee that makes it one of the cheapest ESG funds on the market.
As is the case with many millennial ETFs, USSG is heavily allocated to tech stocks (30.49%). Among the companies that are often excluded from ESG funds are casino operators, alcohol makers, civilian firearms manufacturers and tobacco companies. Those exclusions are true to form in USSG.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not own any of the aforementioned securities.