Frustrated Worker

Websites Roll Out More Snazzy Tools

Frustrated Worker

With good reason, all the talking heads are buzzing about asset allocation and diversification these days, and more Internet tools geared to do-it-yourself investors are cropping up. Three new gizmos of interest made their debut today, so let's take a brief look at them.

iShares Portfolio Planner

San Francisco-based Barclays Global Investors rolled out a new portfolio planner that should have ETF and asset allocation junkies salivating. The one obvious drawback is that the tool focuses only on BGI's iShares, but the portfolio planner does have some really nice applications. Aside from news and fund information on the iShares, the site has an asset allocation tool that allows an investor to build a portfolio of iShares based on the Dow Jones Total Market Index. Investors can tweak the portfolio to overweight certain sectors - click here to give it a spin.

The iShares Portfolio Planner also has charts for each iShare that show how the fund performed relative to its benchmark index, as well as other helpful tools.

Morningstar's Similar Fund Tool

Chicago fund-tracker Morningstar is well known for quality utilities such as its fund selector and X-rays tools. Today Morningstar introduced a new wrinkle - a gadget that allows you find funds that are similar to each other. Imagine you have your heart set on a fund, but maybe it's closed or just costs too darn much. Morningstar's new tool allows you to enter a fund and find other funds that match up in terms of sector weightings, P/E ratios, turnover, volatility, returns, and other data points.

"Some funds are truly unique, but for most funds there are some pretty close matches," said Morningstar analyst Peter Di Teresa, who also noted that the tool is designed primarily as a launching pad for further research.

From the Canadian Bureau

E*Trade Canada announced today it will offer Guardian Capital Advisors' new ETFolios service. Essentially, Guardian's ETFolios allow investors to build a portfolio of exchange-traded funds based on an investor profile and maintain the portfolio.

Of course, Canadian investors are free to buy ETFs directly, but Guardian's service helps investors make asset allocation choices and cuts down on administrative work. The minimum initial investment is $50,000 and the annual expense ratio is 1.00% through E*Trade Canada.

The partnership represents the first time Canadian investors have had access to catered ETF portfolio-building via the Internet, a trend that is picking up steam here in the States.