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Funds of ETFs Can Work for You

"People pay us a fee to choose the ETFs, so we don't want to pay another third party and add another layer of fees," says Mike Bartlow, a registered investment adviser at Money Map Advisors. The Houston firm manages portfolios built with ETFs and charges an annual fee no higher than 0.75%. "I wouldn't recommend these funds of ETFs to a client. For any actively managed mutual fund in any given asset class, there is now a rules-based ETF index fund alternative that not only has higher returns, but eliminates capital gain distributions with fees typically 50% lower."

If you've read this far and you really want a fund of ETFs, the best move is to join a fund supermarket platform and save some money by buying it yourself.

The best and oldest of the bunch is the $708 million AdvisorOne (CLSAX) Amerigo Fund (CLSAX) from CLS Investment Firm of Omaha, Neb. The fund, which was up 6.5% for the year through Monday compared with 2.44% for the S&P 500, overweights asset classes such as large-cap growth and international stocks.

While considered a large-cap blend by Morningstar -- which gives the fund four stars -- Amerigo holds a mix of large stocks, small stocks and emerging markets in about 25 ETFs. It has no constraints and the portfolio managers go wherever they think the returns are.

Its top five holdings as of July 31 were the iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index (IWF), iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM), Vanguard Mid-Cap ETF (VO) and iShares Russell MidCap Growth Index (IWP).

The fund has an expense ratio of 1.41% and doesn't charge a load or sales commission. The minimum investment is $2,500.

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