Index mutual and exchange-traded funds tied to the S&P 500 Index vary widely on performance, cost and risk, Standard & Poor’s found.

For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, the discrepancy between the 81 funds linked to the index ranged a full 3.2 percentage points, with the best-performing fund declining 6.1% and the worst dropping 9.3%. By comparison, the underlying benchmark S&P 500 Index itself lost 9.4% of its value.

For the SPDR S&P 500 exchange-traded fund, the return was negative 6.9%.

“As we continued to analyze our screen’s results, we come across the most telling statistic: net expense ratio,” said Dylan Cathers, an analyst with S&P. “Here, the range was extremely wide, especially when one considers that the funds’ objectives are all the same. The most expensive fund our screener found had an expense ratio of nearly 2.3%. That contrasts with the least expensive fund, which had a ratio of under 0.1%.”

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