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Low-Volatility ETFs for the Long Term

USMV's better balance made only a slight difference in the last three months as that fund went down 2.2%

As for Barron's saying people with shorter horizons may want to reassess their holding, I would say investors with shorter horizons probably should not own low-volatility funds in the first place.

Indexing or value investing along with many other longer-term strategies cannot be deemed a success or failure based on results for a three- or six-month window. No strategy can be the best for all market conditions.

Year to date, the S&P 500 is up 16%, which is a big move even after a small pullback recently. A fund that seeks out less volatility than the broad market should be expected to lag when the broad market goes up a lot in a short period of time such as the first eight months of 2013.

Low-volatility funds will be more appropriate for investors more suited to a long-term perspective. The supporting research for these funds from the various ETF providers focuses on periods of many years, not several months.

SPLV, in its current constituency, does appear to take more interest rate risk at a time when rates finally seem ready to move higher. USMV will likely be the better performer if interest rates do indeed go up.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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