Canadian Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Management Fee (MER) Comparisons

Canadian ETFs and their Management Fees: A Comparison Chart

As far as I know, there are no restrictions on Canadians buying US ETFs (just watch out for those currency exchanges, and differences in tax-treatment). And the US has been exploding in ETF Offerings, with over 100 launched just this year. Heck, you can even buy “Russian Ruble ETFs”.

ETFs are a decent option for a TFSA, but since you can only invest $5000 this year, you will want to only do so if you qualify for deeply discounted commissions for having enough assets with the brokerage (like the $9.99 trades one gets if their household has over $100 000 with TD Waterhouse). Take a look at my TFSA and Canadian Stock Brokers/Brokerages article for further details. If you must, I'd recommend getting just 1 ETF, 2 at the max, to avoid having commissions eat up all of your TFSA tax savings.

Although the MERs for Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX/TMX) listed ETFs look low at 0.40ish%, one of the US ones is just 0.07%/year.

Don't forget to take a look at my ETF cons article, going over some of the things you need to watch out for with ETFs and why I don't include the Horizon ETFs. Sorry, I haven't written the cons article yet, I'll have it up shortly.

There are just 3 issuers of ETFs on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but I've covered just two here, see the ETF cons article for further information about why the Horizons should be avoided. Be sure to also research the TD E-Series Line of Mutual Funds for those that won't invest enough in an ETF to account for the commission expense. 

The iShares are more popular in Canada, and are therefore more liquid and you stand to lose less upon buying/selling than the Claymores, especially if you don't plan on holding them for very long.

Claymore Divident Re-Investment and Preauthorized Purchases

Claymore, in an attempt to become more competitive, is starting to offer a DRiP-like system. A DRiP is a dividend re-investment plan, wher the dividends that are paid out are used to purchase new shares without additional commissions. It doesn't look like many brokers support this yet, and speculation suggests that it might be because the brokers don't want it because they lose commission fees. We'll see what eventually happens, it's all supposed to be launched at the end of February '09 for some funds, and end of March '09 for the rest. You may even need to opt-out of this if you don't want it, we'll see. 

Claymore is also trying to start a program where if you already own their ETFs, you can purchase, without extra commissions, more units on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Yes, they claim without any commissions. This would be huge if it does get implemented. 

Canadian Exchange Traded Fund Management Fees Comparison

Generally, the Claymore and iShares units don't overlap too much in terms of coverage. All numbers posted here are unofficial.

Name of Exchange Traded Fund
Management Fee Percent/year

Yahoo! Quote

Claymore 1-5 Yr Laddered Government Bond ETF Gov. Bonds 0.15 CLF
Claymore BRIC ETF Big Emerging Mrkts 0.60 CBQ
Claymore Canadian Financial Monthly Income ETF CDN Cash-Flow++ 1.65 FIE
Claymore Canadian Fundamental Index ETF Big Canadian Corps 0.65 CRQ
Claymore CDN Dividend & Income Achievers ETF CDN Cash-Flow++ 0.60 CDZ
Claymore Equal Weight Banc & Lifeco ETF Financials 0.55 CEW
Claymore Global Agriculture ETF Agriculture 0.65 COW
Claymore Global Balanced Growth ETF Growth++ FoF* 0.25* CBN
Claymore Global Balanced Income ETF Cash-Flow++ FoF* 0.25* CDB
Claymore Global Infrastructure ETF Infrastructure 0.65 CIF
Claymore Global Monthly Advantaged Dvdnd ETF Global Cash-Flow++ 0.65 CYH
Claymore Global Real Estate ETF Global Real Estate 0.65 CGR
Claymore International Fundamental Index ETF Worldwide BlueChip 0.65 CIE
Claymore JPN Fundamental Index ETF C$ Hedged Japan 0.65 CJP
Claymore Natural Gas Commodity ETF Nat. Gas 0.80 GAS
Claymore Oil Sands Sector ETF Oil Corps 0.60 CLO
Claymore Premium Money Market ETF Relatively Safe Store 0.25 CMR
Claymore S&P Global Water ETF US Water Utils 0.60 CWW
Claymore TSX CDN Preferred Share ETF USCDN Preferreds 0.45 CPD
Claymore S&P/TSX Global Mining ETF Global Minerals 0.55 CMW
Claymore US Fundamental Index ETF C$ hedged Big US Corps 0.65 CLU
iShares CDN DEX All Corporate Bond Index Fund Corp Bond 0.40 XCB
iShares CDN DEX All Government Bond Index Fund All Bonds 0.35 XGB
iShares CDN DEX Long Term Bond Index Fund Long Bonds 0.35 XLB
iShares CDN DEX Real Return Bond Index Fund Real Return Bonds 0.35 XRB
iShares CDN DEX Short Term Bond Index Fund Short-Term Bonds 0.25 XSB
iShares CDN DEX Universe Bond Index Fund Bonds I guess...
0.30 XBB
iShares CDN DJ Canada Select Dividend Index Fund CDN Dividend 0.50 XDV
iShares CDN DJ Canada Select Growth Index Fund CDN Growth 0.50 XCG
iShares CDN DJ Canada Select Value Index Fund CDN Value 0.50 XCV
iShares CDN Jantzi Social Index Fund “Social”, but mainly CDN Large-caps 0.50 XEN
iShares CDN MSCI-EAFE Hedged to CAD$ Index Non-US/CDN Developed Countries 0.49 XIN
iShares CDN Russell 2000 Index CAD$ Hedged Index US Small-Caps 0.35 XSU
iShares CDN S&P500 Hedged to CAD$ Index Fund US Large-Caps 0.24 XSP
iShares CDN TSX 60 Index Fund CDN Large-Caps 0.17 XIU
iShares CDN TSX Capped# Composite Index Fund CDN Everything 0.25 XIC
iShares CDN TSX Capped# Energy Index Fund CDN Energy 0.55 XEG
iShares CDN TSX Capped# Financ'l Index Fund CDN Financials 0.55 XFN
iShares CDN TSX Capped# IT Index Fund CDN Tech Stocks 0.55 XIT
iShares CDN TSX Capped# Material Index Fund Miners & Processors
0.55 XMA
iShares CDN TSX Capped# REIT Index Fund CDN R.E. Trusts 0.55 XRE
iShares CDN TSX Completion Index Fund An odd name...
0.55 XMD
iShares CDN S&P/TSX Global Gold Indx Fnd CDN Gold Corps 0.55 XGD
iShares CDN TSX Income Trust Index Fund CDN Income Trusts 0.55 XTR
iShares CDN TSX SmallCap Index Fund CDN Small-Caps 0.55 XCS
iShares Growth Core Portfolio Builder Fund iShares FoF* 0.60* XGR
iShares Global Completion Portfolio Builder Fund iShares FoF* 0.70* XGC
iShares Conservative Core Portfolio Builder Fund iShares FoF* 0.60* XCR
iShares Alternatives Cmplet'n Portfolio Builder Fund iShares FoF* 0.70* XAL

DJ = Dow Jones
# Capped means that there's a limit to how much any particular stock can be weighted in the portfolio.
* Fund of Funds ETFs are basically a basket of their own ETFs, I'm not sure if the MER figures include the MERs of the included funds or not.


You are all crazy. Saving on the MER to incur huge under performance is nuts. ETF's are like pilotless airplanes. Have a nice flight!

Commissions on ETFs

Is there a way to purchase ETFs on a dollar cost averaging basis and to avoid brokerage fees on each buy?
When does Barclays deduct their MERs and are these tax deductable?


I've tried to find your other article about the cons of ETF, but no luck. Can you send a link to it?


ETF Cons: Why not to buy them

Sorry, I haven't written it yet, I'll have it up within the next few days. Good eye!

Where to check performance?

Just wondering where you [whoever you are] would go to check performance of these ETF's.

I know about Globeadvisor or Globefund, and Morningstar, and Fundlibrary. Just wondered what you thought were the best places to research?

I want to be able to do a LIF transferred from an LRIF of a large chunk of money moved from a mutual funds company.

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