By Michael Johnston of ETF DatabaseThe rise of the ETF industry is often attributed -- in large part at least -- to a shift in investor preference from pricey active management to low-cost indexing strategies. ETFs burst on to the investment scene by offering fees equivalent to only a fraction of those charged by traditional actively managed mutual funds. They have continued to attract assets from investors frustrated with the inability of some actively managed funds to beat their benchmark indices. But not all ETFs offer bargain-basement expense ratios. As the product offerings have become increasingly specialized and targeted in recent years, average fees have been on the rise. This trend isn't necessarily attributable to issuer greed (the low end of the expense ratio range has expanded as well), but rather to the increasing complexity and granularity of exposure available through ETFs. Replicating the S&P 500 is a relatively simple task, but tracking the performance of more complex strategies or far-flung markets often incurs additional costs. There is now a group of ETFs that has seen expense ratios climb above the 1% mark, venturing into mutual fund territory. Below we examine the five most expensive.
5. Market Vectors Gulf States Index ETF ( MES) Expense Ratio = 1.0%
4. IndexIQ Hedge Macro Tracker ETF ( MCRO) Expense Ratio = 1.10%*
3. S&P GSCI Enhanced Commodity Total Return ETN ( GSC) Expense Ratio = 1.25%
2. Dent Tactical ETF ( DENT): Expense Ratio = 1.56%
1. PowerShares CEF Income Composite Portfolio ( PCEF): Expense Ratio = 1.81%*