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Use an ETF to build a nest egg on the cheap

(NC) Saving for retirement is stressful for many of us – and adding to the confusion is the uncertainty of whether it's best to invest in an RRSP or a TFSA.

It's not just the type of retirement account, say specialists in this field. What matters is how to invest within them.

“While mutual funds still dominate in many accounts, investments such as Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have become increasingly popular over the past few years,” says Tim Trian, an investment advisor with HollisWealth. “Once the sole domain of institutional investors, ETFs are now an investment staple for all of us looking for a cost-effective way to save for retirement.”

As easy as stock to buy and sell, Trian explains that ETFs encompass literally hundreds of types of asset classes and markets globally, so investors can get access to a wide range of domestic and foreign equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies and even alternative strategies – all good tools to help build a diversified portfolio.

“ETFs are great because with a single purchase, investors have access to entire markets or strategies in a very cost-effective way,” he continued. “You can achieve well diversified portfolios while only holding very few ETFs.”

While every investor has a different objective and risk profile, diversification is still an essential element to investing. Companies such as First Asset Exchange Traded Funds, ( provide ETF solutions that can complement a broader portfolio, mitigate risk and help protect against volatility. First Asset's ETF product-shelf is made up of funds that focus on delivering superior risk-adjusted returns relative to the broad market.

To start building an ETF portfolio, investors should first speak to their investment advisor to construct one that suits their needs and risk profile. When building any portfolio, it's also important to have a long-term objective in mind, regardless of potential market downturns, or one-off events that can impact the day-to-day value.

Of equal importance is to decide on an appropriate level of balance between risk and return, such as a government bond-focused ETF (which will be much more stable) versus an emerging markets-focused ETF, which may have more short-term volatility due to the underlying investments.

“To create the best portfolio,” says First Asset CEO, Barry Gordon, “you want to have exposure to assets that will rise while other areas of the portfolio may be experiencing some weakness, which will smooth the volatility of the overall portfolio, allow for long-term growth, and make it easier to stay the course.”

By using these strategies, Canadians can ensure their ETF portfolio is well diversified and set up to grow into a nice nest egg for their retirement.

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