2020 ETF Research Report

Worst performing ETFs for 2020

The bottom 5 ETF performers that had the worst returns over the past year in 2020.

The worst ETF performers are from niche products and particular market sectors rather than major share markets or asset classes. Active ETFs continued to be amongst the worst performers. The average performance of a non-active ETF was -2.6%, outperforming the average active ETF which returned -6.6% for the year.

ETFs that aimed to track the oil price or companies exposed to the energy industry were hit hard over the last year, as oil prices plummeted on the back of a global demand glut and supply constraints. The Betashares Crude Oil Index ETF-Currency Hedged (Synthetic) (OOO) was down almost 65% whereas the BetaShares Global Energy Companies ETF – Currency Hedged (FUEL) lost 47%. 

K2 once again proved to be one of the worst performers with the K2 Australian Small Cap Fund (KSM) strategy returning -33.4%. This is the 2nd year in a row they make the bottom 5, again showing how active managers underperform the market.

Over the past year KSM underperformed a broad based index like the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (VAS) by 20%. Considering K2 had on average 30% of its portfolio in cash over the past year, investors should consider why they are paying K2 fees of over 2% p.a.

Property ETFs were hit hard this year as shopping centres and commercial property faced mounting challenges in light of the uncertain economic impact of COVID-19 including lack of retail spending and landlords waiving rents. The SPDR S&P/ASX 200 Listed Property Fund (SLF) and VanEck Vectors Australian Property ETF (MVA) were down over 32% for the year. 

Interestingly, MVA was in the top 5 performers for 2019. It’s fall from grace into the bottom performers demonstrates the dangers of buying last year’s winners.

It is often best to stick with a diversified portfolio which holds the entire market including all sectors.  Four of the 5 top ETFs of 2019 are now amongst the worst performers of 2020.

ASX Code ETF Name Mar’19 RankMar’20 RankChange
ETPMPDETFS Physical Palladium1st 1st0
MVAVanEck Vectors Australian Property ETF2nd203rd-201
QREBetaShares S&P/ASX 200 Resources Sector ETF 3rd193rd-190
OZRSPDR S&P/ASX 200 Resource Fund 4th187th-183
VAPVanguard Australian Property Securities Index ETF5th202nd-197
ASX CodeETF Name1 Year Total Return
OOOBetashares Crude Oil Index ETF-Currency Hedged (Synthetic)-64.6%
FUELBetaShares Global Energy Companies ETF – Currency Hedged-46.7%
KSMK2 Australian Small Cap Fund (Hedge Fund)-33.4%
SLFSPDR S&P/ASX 200 Listed Property Fund-32.3%
MVAVanEck Vectors Australian Property ETF-32.2%

Stockspot’s focus on broad market low cost index funds instead of active ETFs or niche sector ETFs has helped our clients avoid all of the worst performing ETFs.

Picking the best ETFs doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. We build you a diversified ETF portfolio using proven investment strategies to grow your wealth.

See what the Best ETF Performers were over the last year.


Investment Associate

Marc has previously worked for Morgan Stanley, AMP and KPMG. He holds a Bachelor of Business (Finance/Accounting) from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and has completed his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1.

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