Watch for signs that a fund is too expensive, taking too much risk, or poorly constructed.
Fears that common ownership will diminish the level of competition within industries are overblown, says Morningstar's Alex Bryan.
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Low Volatility has exhibited lower volatility and better returns than SPDR SSGA Small Cap Low Volatility.
This ETF should offer a smoother ride and better downside protection than most of its peers.
A new line of research suggests that diversification across stocks in an industry can reduce competition, but that argument is weak.
To separate the wheat from the chaff, look for funds with low fees, transparency, and efficient construction.
Alex Bryan offers some tips for how to sidestep some common pitfalls.
This ETF relies on forward-looking market information to target lower-risk high-yield bonds.
Factor investing tends to work the best among the smallest stocks.
Emerging-markets stocks are trading at lower valuations than U.S. stocks, despite their higher expected growth rates. This ETF offers a good way to own them.
Dividends can be enticing, but focusing narrowly on them can lead to trouble.
PowerShares S&P SmallCap Low Volatility ETF should offer a better risk-reward trade-off than its benchmark during a full market cycle.
Women are underrepresented on most corporate leadership teams. This exchange-traded fund screens for stocks that do better on this front than their peers.
It pays to diversify a stock portfolio globally, even though most large companies are global.
Alex Bryan compares strategic beta funds against cap-weighted funds to see if the strategies are really so unique.
Fran Kinniry says holding stocks outside the U.S. helps investors reduce volatility as well as mitigate regret.
WisdomTree's director of research, Jeremy Schwartz, says investors should hedge out at least part of their foreign currency risk.
Raman Subramanian of MSCI says a low-vol strategy lets investors keep their asset allocation but lessen their risk with returns that are similar to the market.
Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates says low-volatility funds look pricey today, while international stocks are more attractive.
This total market index fund should be the default option for most investors' core U.S. equity allocations.
Most strategic-beta funds' performance can be replicated with a combination of market-cap-weighted indexes.
Strategies targeting factors like value and momentum seem to work better with small-cap equities thanks to more potential for mispricing, says Morningstar's Alex Bryan.
Whether looking for current yield or growing dividends, these two Vanguard funds make a fine choice, says Morningstar's Alex Bryan.
This ETF allows investors to own cheap stocks without the persistent sector bets that most of its peers make.
Quality and value investment strategies often introduce ancillary sector bets, but it may be prudent to constrain them.
Morningstar's Alex Bryan shares new research about the value of investing abroad, and shares some picks.
This fund favors highly profitable firms with durable competitive advantages.
Momentum funds that aggressively chase performance and keep implementation costs down have the best chance to succeed.
Research Affiliates' John West says indexing based on fundamental factors, and not stock price, can help capture the value factor without buying the priciest securities.
Risk-based and behavioral arguments support the theory of value delivering good long-term performance, says AQR's Ronen Israel.
This fund's exchange focus and industry concentration dim some of its shine.
The high-yield bond market poses unique challenges to index funds that make an active approach more attractive.
Investors buying funds that target factors like momentum or value should understand the impact industry tilts have had on performance, says Morningstar's Alex Bryan.
Vanguard Small Cap Value ETF uses an approach that promotes low turnover and diversifies risk.
The firm fortifies its investment team and risk management culture but sticks to its core knitting, warranting a Parent rating upgrade.
Morningstar's Alex Bryan walks investors through some of the pros and cons of index-based ETFs versus actively managed funds in the high-yield bond category.
Bronze-rated Schwab Fundamental U.S. Small Company ETF attempts to profit from mean-reversion in valuations among small-cap stocks.
Industry tilts appear to pay off for momentum but are not integral to the success of value and low-volatility strategies.
This fund should hold up better than most of its peers during market downturns.
Low-volatility strategies tend to be more sensitive to fluctuating interest rates than the broad market.
This compelling exchange-traded fund has a new benchmark and price tag.
The returns of factor investment strategies often look more impressive in academia than in practice.
Interest-rate sensitivity is part of the risk with low-volatility strategies, but attractive risk-adjusted performance over the long term may make them worthwhile for some investors.
This distinctive strategy has a strong record, but its high turnover, fee, and myopic selection criterion detract from its appeal.
High-dividend-paying stocks tend to be more sensitive to interest rates than their lower-yielding counterparts, but not for the reason you might think.
This exchange-traded fund filters out some distressed stocks, but there are cheaper alternatives.
Finding an index that scores well across these six dimensions can help investors choose among seemingly similar funds.
From Fama-French to profitability and momentum, Morningstar's Alex Bryan looks at how academic research performs in investment products.
While this natural-resources ETF isn't for the faint of heart, it can offer good diversification benefits.
It may be tempting to time factor strategies, but sticking with a fixed plan is probably a better course of action.