VFV Review: Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

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If you’re looking for a way to diversify your portfolio, you might want to consider investing in US stocks or at least holding some US stocks in your portfolio.

There is no doubt that investing in Canadian stocks is a great idea and something you should consider if you want your money invested in the country.

But if you’re interested in the US stock market as a Canadian, it’s essential to choose a low-cost diversified portfolio to maximize your returns.

In this VFV review, I discuss the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, a US stock ETF that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), to help you determine if it’s right for you.


What is VFV ETF?

Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF, or VFV, is an easy and inexpensive way of gaining exposure to the U.S. equity market.

Launched on November 2, 2012, VFV trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange market and tracks the performance of the S&P 500 index, one of the most popular and widely-used equity benchmark index in the United States.

This ETF easily allows Canadian investors to gain exposure to large US stocks which can sometimes be difficult and inconvenient to purchase on your own.

However, as an all-equity ETF that does not hold any fixed-income securities like bonds, VFV is riskier compared to other balanced ETFs out there.

As a result, you may want to hold VFV in a diversified portfolio rather than the only investment in your portfolio.

Related: Best S&P 500 ETFs in Canada


How the VFV ETF Works

The Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF tracks the results of the S&P 500 Index that measures the performance of the large-cap U.S. equities market.

VFV has a management fee and MER of 0.08%, which is significantly lower than the industry average.

Unlike other ETFs that invest in various stocks and bonds that are diversified across countries, VFV invests in a basket of stocks from the S&P 500 Index.

Investing in the VFV ETF exposes you to large-cap companies in the U.S. stock market, giving you a diversified investment portfolio with only one transaction.

The stocks included in this fund are some of the most well-known American brands. Besides the tech sector, healthcare, energy, and financial sectors are also represented in this ETF.

The index uses a capitalization-weighted method for selecting its constituents, so the more prominent a company is in terms of its market capitalization, the higher its weight would be in the index.


VFV Key Features

The following are the key features of Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF as of March, 2022:

InceptionNovember 2, 2012
CurrencyCAD
Stocks507
AUM$6,308 Billion
Management fee0.08%
MER0.08%
12-month trailing yield1.15%
Distribution yield1.36%
Distribution frequencyQuarterly
Eligible accountsTFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RDSP, DPSP

VFV Investment Objective

The VFV ETF aims to provide long-term capital growth by replicating, before fees and expenses, the performance of the S&P 500 Index.

This gives you a broader exposure to the US market as it is diversified across various sectors of the US economy.  By holding VFV, you gain exposure to some of the largest US stocks with a single buy.


What Does Vanguard VFV Invest In?

VFV specifically targets companies in the S&P 500 index that is made up of stocks of the largest U.S companies in terms of market capitalization using an index investing strategy.

The median market capitalization for companies held in VFV is $245.5 billion as at February 28, 2022.

In subsequent sections of this VFV review, we’ll take a closer look at the components of the VFV ETF.


VFV Vanguard Sector Allocation

One of the greatest benefits of VFV is the diversification you get from the stocks in different sectors of the U.S economy.

The S&P 500 index covers a wide range of industries from technology to financial service firms, healthcare providers and consumer products.

This diversification helps reduce risk by spreading investments across different industries.

The table below shows VFV’s sector allocation as of February 28, 2022.

SectorAllocated Funds
Information Technology28.1%
Health Care13.3%
Consumer Discretionary11.8%
Financials11.4%
Communication Services9.6%
Industrials8.0%
Consumer Staples6.2%
Energy3.7%
Real Estate2.6%
Utilities2.6%
Materials2.6%

VFV Holdings

VFV is a diversified investment portfolio that holds more than 500 individual stocks.

The table below shows the 10 companies in the VFV Holdings portfolio as of February 28, 2022.

Name of HoldingMarket Value %Sector
Apple Inc.7.06Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals
Microsoft Corp.6.05Systems Software
Amazon.com Inc.3.38Internet & Direct Marketing Retail
Alphabet Inc. Class A2.11Interactive Media & Services
Tesla Inc.1.97Automobile Manufacturers
Alphabet Inc. Class C1.97Interactive Media & Services
Facebook Inc. Class A1.92Interactive Media & Services
NVIDIA Corp.1.59Semiconductors
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class B1.48Multi-Sector Holdings
Johnson & Johnson1.17Pharmaceuticals

VFV Market Capitalization

VFV Fund’s portfolio cuts across companies of different sizes or market capitalizations. But as a market weighted ETF, VFV allocates a higher percentage to large-caps.

The table below displays VFV’s holding by market capitalization as of February 28, 2022.

CapitalizationAllocation
Small0.07%
Small/Medium2.99%
Medium15.19%
Large/Medium3.73%
Large77.89%

VFV Fees

The management fee and MER for VFV is just 0.08%. This is one of the lowest management fees you’ll find on broad diversified ETFs in Canada.

This low fee is one of the things that makes VFV such an attractive investment option, especially for those investors looking for a passive investing solution.

In addition, you may have to pay some trading commission to buy the ETF depending on the brokerage you use.


Pros and Cons of VFV ETF

There are some benefits and drawbacks of investing in VFV that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Vanguard VFV.

Pros 

  • Low management fees
  • Passively managed stock portfolio
  • Broad exposure to American top companies
  • Convenient way to get exposure to US stocks

Cons

  • Less geographic diversification since it only invests in US equities
  • Riskier ETF portfolio

How to Buy Vanguard VFV ETF in Canada

VFV is available to purchase through both Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade, which are commission-free brokerage firms, or any other self-directed investment platforms in Canada.

How to Buy VFV on Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade is a brokerage that allows you to trade more than 7,000 stocks and ETFs without paying any commission.

This makes it a cost-effective way to build a diversified portfolio. There are no account minimums, and the trading process is simple.

You need a Trade account to start buying VFV through Wealthsimple Trade. If you have an account, you can easily trade VFV by searching using its ticker symbol “VFV” or name.

Then click on “buy” and follow the simple prompts on the order entry window to complete your trade.

However, if you don’t have an account already, you can create one through this link to earn a welcome bonus of $50.

Learn more: Wealthsimple Trade Review

How to Buy VFV on Questrade

Questrade is a discount brokerage that offers both novice and experienced investors a competitive and reliable option for trading ETFs, stocks, bonds, and more.

Purchasing VFV through Questrade is also commission-free. However, it charges a fee of $4.95 per trade when you sell your VFV.

Like Wealthsimple Trade, to buy VFV on Questrade, you first need to open up a trading account. It takes just a few minutes, and you can do it on their website.

Once your account is opened and funded, you can trade VFV through the platform by looking for the VFV ticker. After finding the ticker, you can click ‘ buy’ to start trading.

Click here and create your Questrade to earn a $50 sign-up bonus.

Learn more: Wealthsimple Trade vs Questrade

Is VFV a Good Buy?

The VFV ETF is a good fund for Canadian investors seeking to diversify their portfolios outside Canada. It provides broad exposure to the most popular US stocks with medium level of risk.

With a low management fee of just 0.08%, you can start investing in US equities in a convenient way using Canadian dollars rather than investing in an S&P500 ETF that is listed on a US-exchange and trades in US dollars.

That said, VFV can be volatile and can decline significantly if the market turns down.

Hence, the portfolios may not be ideal for you if you’re looking for capital growth or income with low-risk levels.


VFV Alternatives

Below are some of the alternatives to VFV you may consider if the portfolio is not suitable for you.

VFV vs VOO

VOO is another ETF that tracks S&P500 but offered by the Vanguard United States. As a Canadian resident, you can invest in either ETF depending on your personal situation.

VFV is traded in CAD dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while VOO is traded in U.S dollars on the New York Stock Exchange.

To buy the U.S. listed ETF like VOO in Canada, you will have to source for US dollars or carry out a currency conversion on the investment platform. You may be charged an FX conversion fee of up to 2% for this service.

Over time, these fees can add up and eats into your portfolio returns.

On the other hand, you won’t pay any FX or exchange rate fees if you purchase VFV, as it’s listed on Toronto Stock Exchange, and you will be able to trade them in Canadian dollars.

Learn more: VFV vs VOO Comparison

VFV vs VSP

Like VFV, VSP tracks the performance of the Standard & Poor’s (S&P 500). However, it is currency-hedged – meaning it eliminates the effect of currency fluctuation between the Canadian and U.S. dollars.

The VSP was created to mitigate the potential impact of currency fluctuation when investing in a U.S. index. That’s perfect for a globally diversified portfolio, but you’ll pay a small fee for that protection.

VFV does not hedge against currency movements, so exchange rate changes could have an adverse effect (depending on the direction) on your investment.

However, VFV has a slightly lower MER compared to VSP. VFV charges an MER fee of 0.08%, while VSP charges 0.09%.

VFV vs VEQT

Vanguard All-Equity ETF Portfolio, VEQT, is another ETF option from Vanguard Canada that invests 100% of its fund in equity.

Unlike VFV, VEQT is globally diversified with investments in companies across US, Canada, other developed countries and emerging market economies.

When you invest in VFV, 100% of your funds is allocated to US stocks. With VEQT, only about 40% goes to US stocks (not only the ones included in S&P500 index).

In terms of fees though, VFV is much cheaper than VEQT. VFV’s MER is only 0.08% compared to VEQT’s 0.24%.

Also, both ETFs trade in Canadian dollars on the TSX, making them accessible to many Canadians.

Overall, if you’re looking to invest in a diversified equity portfolio, VEQT is a more diversified fund with its investment in more than 13,200 individual stocks.

Learn more: VEQT Review

VFV vs Robo-Advisors

Another option for investing in a diversified portfolio is through Robo-advisors such as Wealthsimple Invest and Questwealth Portfolios.

Unlike VFV, Robo-advisors offer hands-off investing by automating and managing your investments on your behalf.

Robo-advisors automate the investment process by giving you an option to choose the type of investment portfolio that suits your risk profile and goals.

Once the Robo-advisor learns about those factors, it will invest your money in ETFs that match your needs. Also, it constantly monitors the markets and rebalance your portfolio regularly to keep your investments on track.

Read More: Best Robo-Advisors in Canada


FAQs on VFV Review

How often are VFV dividends?

VFV ETF pays dividends quarterly, with capital gains distributions at the end of the year.

Is VOO better than VFV?

VFV trades in Canadian Dollars, while VOO trades in US Dollars. As a Canadian investor, you’ll save on currency conversion fees by investing in VFV instead of VOO.

Is VFV good for Canadians?

The VFV ETF is an excellent option for Canadian investors who wish to diversify their portfolios while also receiving exposure to some prominent companies in the United States.


Conclusion on VFV Review

VFV ETF is a fund that allows investors to track the S&P 500. It provides an excellent opportunity for passive investors to build a diversified portfolio, with a lower cost than the average mutual fund.

If that sounds appealing to you, proceed to invest in VFV. If not, I encourage you to consider some of its alternatives, such as VSP or a more diverse portfolio of ETFs.

Hopefully, this article has helped you get started on meeting your goals and building a solid investment foundation.

So are you going with VFV or one of its alternatives? Let me know in the comment section.

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VFV Review
4.8

Summary

VFV ETF is an easy and inexpensive way of gaining exposure to the U.S. equity market targeting companies in the S&P 500 index that is made up of stocks of the largest U.S companies in terms of market capitalization.

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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