One of the benefits of using an ETF to target your dividend equity exposure is that you are able to hone in on a specific segment of the market or customize your holdings based on your risk tolerance. More conservative investors that are concerned about deflation may want to opt for a low-volatility play such as the PowerShares U.S. Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV). While this fund is not categorically implementing a dividend index, it is focused on sectors such as utilities and consumer staples that have historically been strong cash generators. The current yield on SPLV is 2.49% and its income is paid monthly, which can be an attractive feature.

Conclusions

While no one knows what the ultimate outcome for 2014 will be, I am optimistic the current rally will extend itself. There will most likely be some unexpected bumps along the way, but by using price to your advantage you can leg into some of these opportunities on a pullback to enhance your chances for success. Starting with small positions and averaging into them over time is also an effective strategy for increasing your equity exposure.

From a portfolio management standpoint, my personal preference is to pair equity income ETFs with strategic fixed-income holdings to offset volatility and enhance diversification. You can then expand and collapse your allocation sizes according to your risk tolerance and investment objectives.

If you currently have exposure to dividend paying stocks or ETFs, you should be doing a thorough analysis of their returns for 2013 to determine if they are the best fit moving into the new year. Consider pairing back underperforming positions and adding to areas that you feel will offer the best potential for additional gains.

Lastly, remember that hanging onto your gains and/or protecting capital is just as important as what you are invested in. Consider using a stop loss or other risk management plan to reduce the chances of a severe decline. ETFs allow you to set automatic stop losses with your broker so that you have a cut bait point that will get you out of a position at a pre-determined level.

I wish you good health and much wealth in 2014!

At the time of publication the author had a position in IDV, DVY, and TDIV.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

David Fabian is a managing partner at FMD Capital Management, a fee-only registered investment advisory firm specializing in exchange-traded funds. He has years of experience constructing actively managed growth and income portfolios using ETFs. David regularly contributes his views on wealth management in his company blog, podcasts and special reports. Visit www.fmdcapital.com to learn more.

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