Guide to the ETF Holdings Comparison Tool

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Summary / TL;DR: This article shows the newest tool in the ETFtracker kit for those interested in analysing ETF holdings. The guide and videos refer to the app on its standalone Holdings page (here) but it is now part of the main ETFtracker app and the holdings page will be removed in the next week or so. The features as shown in the guide still work the same in the main ETFtracker app (here).


Update 18th September 2021: We removed Fixed Income ETFs from the comparison due to the difficulty in matching up the various naming conventions for fixed income ETF holdings. Equity ETFs have different names as well but are easier to match up. This reduces coverage to ~150 from over 170.


Update 16th September 2021: We filmed a video guide for this that's available on YouTube - you can check that out below.


Background

If you've followed along the ETFtracker journey, you'll know that our focus is to help people make better investment decisions with data. There's a lot of data out there but it's either behind expensive paywalls or is hard to access. In the hard to access arena, there are ones that are easy to get data for but they take time to put together so there is a bit of a barrier to entry. ETF holdings data is in that space and we've already gathered data from 6 of the major ETF issuers and created 6 separate holdings analysis tools that you can use to visually see and compare holdings data within those issuers. But, this was limited if you wanted to compare ETFs across issuers.


The next part of the journey was to enable comparisons across these issuers and we're pleased to launch this feature now for others to try with our new ETF Holdings Comparison Tool. It's version 1.0 of this out in the wild and if the journey of the main ETFtracker is anything to go by, this will go through a number of iterations and improvements so we've just kept things simple for now with 2 areas accessible which we'll go through below.


The ETF Holdings Comparison Tool

The holdings tool has its own page which will be removed in a few weeks as all features are now in the main ETFtracker app here: https://www.etftracker.com.au/the-app


Using the App

This app is less visual than the others for now but it allows comparisons in 2 ways. The first is to compare ETFs and see how similar their holdings are. The second is to search for a particular holding and see which of the 170 ETFs we cover it has exposure to. The user can navigate to these with the side panel menu as shown below.


When searching and comparing, we have a set of filters that pop out on the right hand side of each page. On the ETF comparisons tool we have included filters from the main ETFtracker app such as ETF Categories (as defined by ASX/Chi-X), thematics (defined by ETFtracker) and then you can either look up ETFs by their ticker or the fund name. In the example below, the user opens the filter, selects some providers and ETF categories and closes the page.


The main table in the middle shows the ETFs you have selected with ETF tickers across the top and security tickers down the left hand side. The security tickers have a plus sign next to them because each of the issuers has different data providers and thus, their holdings files are all different. (we've had to do a lot of cleaning to make sure we can make these ETFs comparable). Below is an example showing the user expanding on the security tickers and you can see that some have multiple names of the securities. That's because different issuers have data providers but we clean up the ticker and join the data on that.


Additionally, you can see a bar chart on the right of the table. This shows what the weight is of the top 10 holdings for the ETFs you have selected.


On the next page we jump to the Search Holdings table and this is where you can search for certain stocks. In this example, the user brings up the filter, searches for the ticker TSLA and closes the filter so they can see which ETFs have TSLA (Tesla) in it. They then open the filter again and select KGN (Kogan) and HD (Home Depot). The list then shows those ETFs which have those particular holdings in them.


The user can also search by name but as mentioned above, you will have different naming conventions across providers so searching by ticker is preferred. If you do search by name make sure you select multiple names of the stock.


Where there are numbers along with the names, this usualyl depicts a corporate bond so be careful about choosing those if you were after the equity version only. You can notice this when looking at the ticker of a holding because some equities will be shown as say WBC (for Westpac's equity) and WBCAU or WBC with a number for the corporate bond. Another way is to look at what ETF comes up when you pick the security and if it is a bond ETF then it's more than likely just holding corporate and government bonds and the security you've picked is not an equity.


We have also added some info (i) buttons around the page so hover over those for more info.


Caveats

Of course, this tool has some limitations so it's important to know what they are before you get caught out with anything.


  • Weekly updates – at this early stage with further iterations being planned, we're keeping the updates on this to be weekly and on weekends. At some point in future we'll update the app daily but bea in mind that the holdings only rebalance on quarterly/half-yearly or similar frequencies.

  • Common Tickers- Some ETF comparisons you pull up might have securities (another name for stocks/equities/other holdings) that have a common ticker name. The ticker is the 3 or 4 (sometimes more) alphabetical or numeric code that is the identifier for that security.

  • Selections Required - Another caveat be mindful of is that due to the sheer size of this table, not all values are displayed so you need to actually make selections for this table to be useful.

  • Think about your comparisons - Also, have a think about your selections. If you’re comparing 30 ETFs because you are actually considering having that many in a portfolio, you may want to think about how that could potentially be overly diversified (yes that’s a thing). Even if you did do that, you’re going to have a hard time seeing how comparable those ETFs are against each other unless you’ve got an ultrawide screen. You are better off searching and comparing in groups.

  • Size does matter - The ETF holdings you have are going to be most impacted by the top weighted holdings so if you see that 3 of your ETFs have a similar holding but that holding is 0.9%, 1.2% , 0.5% of each ETF it is not going to make a huge difference.

  • Bond, equity or other holding - Searching holdings is not divided up into bonds, equities and other instruments. You’ll need to either identify this by looking at the ETF that comes up from your search (if it’s a bond ETF then the security ticker you’ve selected is likely a corporate bond) or by the security ticker symbol. For example, Commonwealth Bank’s equity would be ticker symbol CBA but the bond for some providers is CBAAU or CBA with some other extra identifier to it like CBA2606A. It’s not clean but there are ways around it and luckily, the majority of ETFs are equity ones.

  • Country filter with limits - We also have a country filter on this page but not all ETF Issuers provided the country of the security/holding. Others provided country names and others provided country codes. Those who provided country codes used different country code methodologies. We’ve had to do quite a bit of mapping work here. We suggest to only use the country filter if you are searching for non-Vanguard holdings.

  • Beware of the exchange where the holding trades - For some ETFs, especially the Asian ones, they have holdings which have both regional listings as well as those trade in the US. For example, Taiwan Semiconductor trades as TSM on the New York Stock Exchange but is also trade on the Taiwan Stock Exchange as ticker 2330. Despite being the same company, these aare not the same stock.

  • ETFs to be added - Some ETFs which hold other ETFs are not currently shown here whilst others are. For example, we do show DGGF, DHHF, DZZF from BetaShares which hold other ETFs but we don't yet bring in VDHG and other Vangaurd ETF of ETFs. The holdings data comes out differently so we still need to figure out how to handle those.



So, what comes next?

The next steps from here include further additions and integrations. Further additions would be in adding ETFs we don't list from other providers as well as some of the ETFs here we are missing. Of course, this is only where holdings are made available.


Additionally, we'll be integrating this holdings data into the main ETFtracker app so that when the user looks at an ETF Snapshot page they will also get some holdings analysis too (where we have coverage).


Furthermore to the ETF Snapshot addition, we'll also be adding a feature for ETF exposures where we'll showcase the holdings of the ETF you're looking at but also where those holdings have exposure to other ETFs across the ones that we cover.



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