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XGRO ETF Review – A Safe and Hands Off Solution…

XGRO ETF is a multi-asset ETF that invests in one or more ETFs managed by BlackRock Canada or its affiliates, providing exposure to equity and fixed income securities. The ETF offers long-term capital growth as well as income to investors. XGRO ETF provides exposure to a portfolio of ETFs that is diversified by asset class and regions.

iShares XGRO ETF is managed in accordance with a long-term strategic asset allocation of ~80% equity and ~20% fixed income exposure. The ETF underwent changes in the fundamental investment objective, management fee, and fee structure effective December 11, 2018.

The ETF is part of group of 5 ETFS that can be used to manage a portfolio based on your desired fixed income and equity exposure.

Pros of iShares XGRO ETF

  • Inexpensive ETF with an MER of 0.20%.
  • It is continuously monitored and also rebalanced quarterly.
  • XGRO provides exposure to ETFs that are diversified across regions and asset classes.

Cons of iShares XGRO ETF

  • Provides exposure to equity ETFs managed only by BlackRock Canada.
  • XGRO is massively biased towards Canada.
  • XGRO’s MER is higher than all its other components individually. You pay to have someone rebalance – it’s like a concierge service fee.

iShares XGRO ETF Facts

  • Inception Date: June 21, 2007
  • Benchmark: None – 80% Equity ETF from iShares Core Growth ETF Portfolios
  • Net Assets: $957M
  • MER: 0.20%
  • Distribution Yield: 1.51%
  • Dividend Schedule: Quarterly

iShares XGRO ETF MER – Management Expense Ratio 

XGRO’s management fee stands at 0.18% and MER is 0.20%.Its contemporaries Vanguard’s VGRO and Blackrock’s ZGRO have MERs of 0.25% and 0.20%, respectively. 

The MER is what Blackrock takes to manage the fund for you. It’s much cheaper than mutual funds and in some cases cheaper than investing on your own.

Mutual funds can charge over 2% and it robs you of your returns. It’s time to ditch your mutual funds and switch to ETF ASAP. Many brokers such as Questrade offer free ETFs.

iShares XGRO ETF Performance

The annual rate of return for iShares XGRO ETF since inception is 4.30%. It has underperformed the broader S&P500 index in the last five years.

It’s a pretty lame performence but then it recently beats the TSX.

When it comes to investing 100% in equity, there are many options. A simple SP500 index can do the trick. You know the saying, keep it stupid simple (KISS).

XGRO vs TSX vs SP500 2021
Dividend Adjusted Chart by Stock Rover – Try it out.

Take your TFSA account as an example. The rules are the same for everyone and I mean everyone. The growth is ultimately a factor of your investment performance provided you make your TFSA contribution limit every year. The annual performance of an ETF matters as you can see below the growth over 20+ years.


1 2009 5,000 5,000 5,250 5,500 Not Tracked Not Started
2 2010 5,000 10,000 10,762 11,550 Not Tracked Not Started
3 2011 5,000 15,000 16,550 18,205 Not Tracked Not Started
4 2012 5,000 20,000 22,628 25,525 Not Tracked Not Started
5 2013 5,500 25,500 29,534 34,128 $41,742 Not Started
6 2014 5,500 31,000 36,786 43,590 $52,820 Not Started
7 2015 10,000 41,000 49,125 58,949 $56,307 Not Started
8 2016 5,500 46,500 57,356 70,984 $70,200 Not Started
9 2017 5,500 52,000 65,999 84,034 $78,900 $13,308
10 2018 5,500 57,500 75,074 98,487 $96,937 $58,818

iShares XGRO ETF Holdings

Unlike an S&P500 ETF where your exposure is from US companies, XGRO is diversified across countries and continents.

The iShares XEQT Core Equity ETF Portoflio invests in 4 different ETFs to bring the outlined geographical diversification.

The equity section is below. Same ETFs as XEQT but with a different ratio.

  • ITOT – (36.88%) ISHARES CORE S&P TOTAL U.S. STOCK
  • XIC – (20.67%) ISHARES S&P/TSX CAPPED COMPOSITE
  • XEF – (19.91%) ISHARES MSCI EAFE IMI INDEX
  • IEMG – (3.94%) ISHARES CORE MSCI EMERGING MARKETS

Now for the fixed income part (20%), the following ETFs are used.

  • XBB – (11.60%) ISHS CORE CAD UNIV BND IDX ETF
  • IEMG – (3.94%) ISHARES CORE MSCI EMERGING MARKETS
  • USIG – (1.92%) ISHARES BROAD USD INVESTMENT
  • GOVT – (1.86%) ISHARES US TREASURY BOND ETF

XGRO ETF invests ~80% in equities and ~20% in fixed income as opposed to XBAL’s 60:40 ratio. This fund is more included towards growth.

The ETF can also invest a small amount of cash or cash equivalents from time to time. It also has investments in US Treasury bonds.

Why hold iShares XGRO ETF

XGRO offers a growth solution with a perfect blend of 80% equity and 20% bonds. It is a good option for investors who are beginning to invest.

It is simple, well-diversified, and a low-cost ETF. XGRO also provides balanced geographic diversification. The ETF provides a good opportunity to investors looking for long-term growth and income solutions, are planning to hold the investment for the medium to long term, and are comfortable with a low to medium level of risk.

It is cheaper, gets rebalanced quarterly, and the asset and geographic diversification are added advantages. It’s a hands off solution.

I vote to stick with an S&P500 ETF such as VFV.

If you want the dividends, it’s not clear you will get the same growth but the the best banks and the best utility stocks will give you more income.


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