Update: Vanguard FTSE All-World UCITS ETF

Der FTSE All-World bietet ein breites Aktienexposure zu 47 Industrie- und Schwellenländern. Emerging Markets sind mit rund 7% bis 10% gewichtet. Mit einer TER von 25 Basispunkten ist das Vanguard-Produkt eines der günstigen global anlegenden Aktien ETFs.

Dimitar Boyadzhiev 01.07.2016
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This Vanguard FTSE All-World ETF stands as a compelling option to gain exposure to a broad range of companies from 47 developed and emerging markets.  

The fund aims to replicate the FTSE All-World Index, which, with more than 3,000 constituents, covers 90%-95% of the global equity market capitalisation. The FTSE All-World allocates 7%-10% of its total value to emerging markets, making it a more comprehensive index than the popular MSCI World Index.

The fund also tends to have an overweighting in emerging economies compared with the average active and passive peers in the global large-cap blend equity Morningstar Category. That said, we think the fund is well-representative of the opportunity set available to investors. Its composition in terms of market cap, sector, and style is in line with that of its peers.

With a total expense ratio of 0.25%, the ETF is not only competitively priced against the category, but also against comparable passive rivals. In fact, it is one of the cheapest global equity ETFs available.

Being an optimised fund, the management process is geared towards delivering the index return at the minimum possible cost. And the fund has done just that. As measured by its tracking difference (fund return less index return), the fund has shown best-in-class performance over the past three years in comparison with its ETF peers, and its tracking error has been tight.

These attributes are testament to Vanguard’s commitment to indexing and its mutual structure. The company is run for investors, with profits often passed on as lower fees, and the fund management process is geared to delivering the index returns at the minimum possible cost.

With all that in mind, we believe the fund has the potential to consistently outperform its category peers over the long term. The ETF has ranked in the first quartile of the category in risk-adjusted return terms during the trailing three-year period. Other comparable passive funds, albeit with much lower emerging-markets exposure, have ranked in the top quartile in five- and 10-year periods on a risk-adjusted basis. 

All factors considered, this fund has proved itself an accurate, inexpensive, and above-average offering within its category.

Fundamentale Analyse

The general environment for global developed equities has become more volatile in 2016. Forecasts for global growth have been revised slightly down to account for the build-up of downside risks, such as low commodity prices and challenging conditions in key markets, particularly China. Against this backdrop, the performance of developed economies remains uneven across major areas, while monetary policy remains the key driver of sentiment.

The United States is the most important contributor to the performance of the MSCI World Index. After a long period of sustained growth, equity valuations may look somewhat stretched. Further upside has become increasingly dependent on a revival of corporate earnings. During the last quarter of 2015, US earnings-per-share shrank 6.8% relative to a year earlier, while the sectors suffering a decline in profits were six out of 10--well extended beyond energy and materials. On the upside, the US economy looks fairly resilient, with a solid job market. More importantly, after hiking interest rates in December 2015, the US Federal Reserve has toned down tightening expectations. This may provide ongoing support to the US equity market.

Eurozone equities had a rough start of 2016, but the combination of cheap oil, positive credit growth, and rising consumer demand should keep the region’s economy inching up. However, overall, the eurozone remains one of the world developed economies growth laggards. In March 2016, the ECB upped its ultra-easy monetary policy stance, with the announcement of direct interventions in the corporate bond market, as well as an expansion of liquidity provision operations at very favourable terms. This has potential to directly lower companies’ funding costs. Investors should be aware that, compared with US and developed Asian peers, eurozone companies tend to have higher revenue exposures in growth-sensitive sectors such as resources and financial services. This can result in higher relative underperformance in falling markets.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has struggled for the best part of the past three decades against persistent deflationary pressures and a spiralling public debt burden.  In late 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the launch of a package of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reforms designed to kick-start the country’s stagnant economy. Global markets responded favourably, however gross domestic product growth remains meagre and deflationary pressures persist, which induced the Japanese central bank to introduce negative rates in early 2016. Further steps taken by the government include improving the flexibility and the productivity of the labour force, which is hampered by long-term job security, seniority-based wages, limited female participation in the workforce, and company-based labour unions.


The FTSE All World Total Net Return Index includes approximately 90%-95% of the equity market capitalisation of 47 countries. As of this writing, the index is composed of approximately 3,000 stocks. Components must meet minimum criteria for liquidity, as well as foreign ownership restrictions. The securities are weighted by free-float market capitalisation. The index is reviewed and rebalanced semiannually. The US accounts for approximately 50%-55% of the index value, followed by Japan (8%-10%), the United Kingdom (6%-8%), and France (3%-5%). Financial services are the index’s largest sector, with an 18%-20% weighting, followed by information technology (13%-15%) and healthcare (12%-14%). Portfolio concentration is very limited; the top 10 holdings account for 9%-11% of the total index value. Top securities include Apple with 1%-2% weight, followed by Microsoft and Exxon Mobil at approximately 1%.


Vanguard uses physical optimised replication to replicate the performance of the FTSE All World Total Net Return Index. Instead of holding all the index’s constituents in the same weightings, the fund holds a basket of securities that reflects the return and risk characteristics of the index. Dividends received from the underlying stocks are reinvested in futures until they are distributed to fundholders on a quarterly basis. This dividend treatment allows the fund to maintain full index exposure and mitigate cash drag, which in turns helps to minimise tracking error. The fund does not engage in securities lending.


With a total expense ratio of 0.25%, the fund is the cheapest global equity ETF available. Index funds should provide the returns of their benchmark, less fees. However, during the past three years, this fund had delivered more than that as its tracking difference (fund return less index return) has been positive, meaning that the fund has outperformed its index. This mostly stems from the quality of portfolio optimisation, which is unique to each individual provider. It can also be attributed to the fact that the fund is domiciled in Ireland and enjoys a lower dividend withholding tax rate in comparison with the index. The fund’s annualised tracking error for the same period has been low, at 0.06%. Tracking error is a measure of how consistently a fund tracks its benchmark index. The closer the tracking error is to zero, the better or more efficient the fund is. Investors should also consider trading costs, including bid-ask spreads and brokerage fees, when buying and selling the ETF.


There are no other ETFs tracking the FTSE All World index.

ETFs tracking the MSCI AC World Index are the only directly comparable alternatives to  this Vanguard fund. However, with fees starting from 0.40%, they are relatively expensive.

An alternative way to gain similar exposure would be to combine two ETFs, one that tracks a developed markets index and another that tracks an emerging-markets index. The number of individual ETFs is higher, which means that there are more choices and lower prices, which could help investors to substantially lower their holding costs and improve their returns.

The cheapest and best-performing ETFs which, when combined, provide the same exposure as the MSCI AC World Index are iShares Core MSCI World (TER: 0.20%) and the Amundi ETF MSCI Emerging Markets (TER: 0.20%). 

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Über den Autor

Dimitar Boyadzhiev  Dimitar Boyadzhiev ist Fund Analyst, European Passive Fund Research