As of November 2012, the ETF marketplace was valued at $1.3 trillion (vs. $10 trillion invested in mutual funds). iShares (BlackRock) remains the largest player with 41% of the marketplace, down from 60% in 2007. Next to BlackRock, the next two largest ETF sponsors are State Street (25% market share) and Vanguard (18% market share). There are over 1,500 ETFs, and almost all of them are passively managed.
REITs are diversified in one of two ways: type of property and location. Critics of diversified REITs contend that transparency is reduced and measurement is more difficult; sector-type REITs can be more easily compared to a more-defined group. Some companies such as Franklin Templeton prefer to only buy REITs for its mutual funds that are specialized in one sector. As of early 2013, the five largest diversified equity REITs were as follows:
Generally, a fund’s yield is whatever it pays out during the year in dividends and interest. For example, if a fund is selling for $20 a share and paid out $1 in dividends and interest payments, its yield would be 5%. Because a fund’s investments and its payouts change over time, advisors need to understand the difference between its 12-month yield and the SEC yield.
Leveraged loan ETFs and mutual funds are sometimes recommended when there is a fear of rising interest rates. The interest rate on these loans is usually adjusted quarterly, thereby eliminating most, if not all, interest rate risk. However, the great majority of these loans have a junk rating, similar to high-yield corporate bonds.
For the 2011 calendar year, just 23% of mutual funds outperformed their benchmark. The correlation between the S&P 500 and the stocks within the index averaged a record 86% (0.86) for the year. Some argue that a high correlation makes it harder for a mutual fund manager to pick winners. During the decade 2002-2011, the average correlation between stocks in the S&P 500 and the index itself averaged 56% (0.56). However, during most years, large cap managers have lagged their benchmarks when correlations were high and when correlations were low.
The term “money market” can refer to two different products:  one is offered by the mutual fund industry and  the other is a type of bank account wherein the lender sets the interest rate. As of the beginning of 2012, ~ $2.7 trillion was in money market mutual funds while close to $6 trillion were in bank money market deposit accounts. The average money market yield was 0.06% while at banks it was 0.15% (Feb. 10, 2012, source: Crane Data).
Taxable investors may prefer ETFs over mutual funds due to a regulatory loophole that shields investors from capital gains distributions until final sale of the ETF. As shown in the table below, many popular foreign and global ETFs have not ever paid capital gains distributions (at least from their 2007-2008 inception to Dec. 2011).
The following are excerpts from a February 2012 interview between Vanguard founder John Bogle and the Journal of Indexes.