Smart Beta ETF Investing: Access Potential Drivers of Return

Smart beta investing seeks to provide a cost-effective, rules-based strategy to potentially outperform a traditional market cap-weighted benchmark. Smart beta ETFs are designed to capture specific factors, or investment characteristics, that drive risk and return — and can do so in a relatively low-cost, systematic manner.

Why Focus on Factors?

Factors — characteristics such as value, quality, size, momentum, volatility and dividend yield — can drive a portfolio’s excess return above a market cap-weighted benchmark as illustrated throughout extensive academic and practical research.1

Why Choose Smart Beta ETFs?

Investors use smart beta ETFs to pursue a wide range of goals:

Seek Alpha

Mitigate Downside Volatility

Search for Yield

Lower Costs

Access Uncorrelated Returns

Ways to Use Smart Beta ETFs

Screens/Tilts to Capture Factor Premia

Six primary factors have historically outperformed the market cap-weighted benchmark. Harnessing the potential of smart beta requires understanding the screens or tilts that can be used to access these factors.

Single Factor

Investors can use single-factor smart beta ETFs to add exposures one at a time based on their market views or needs. This approach can make it easier to attribute performance more precisely and allow investors to tailor the implementation to their specific beliefs and objectives.


Multi-factor smart beta ETFs combine two or more factors to capture a variety of factor risk premia and achieve a diversified exposure. This approach can allow investors to take advantage of diversification benefits across factors while potentially removing some of the performance cyclicality associated with single-factor investments. It also allows investors to address multiple objectives in a cost-efficient way.

Our Expertise

State Street’s SPDR smart beta ETFs are built in partnership with the world’s leading index providers and fueled by expertise that comes from more than 25 years of smart beta experience. We pay rigorous attention to the many details — from design to execution — that can add up to important performance and diversification benefits for investors.

Our Smart Beta ETFs

Across a range of smart beta strategies, our ETFs allow investors to target factor premia that can deliver superior risk-adjusted returns.