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Top funds: Highest returns, lowest costs
The "tyranny of compounding costs" can cost clients up to two-thirds of their long-term gains, according to a well-publicized interview earlier this year with John Bogle, founder of Vanguard and godfather of cheap investing. To be sure, Bogle used a rather high 2% hypothetical fee for active management in his comparison, but his overall point was well taken: Fees can take an enormous bite out of investment returns.

Funds with highest expected yields over 5 years
Top corporate funds of the past 3 years

That's why we've long added expense ratios to our fund slideshows. Usually a secondary category, this time we used costs as part of the ranking by limiting our search to only those mutual funds and ETFs with expense ratios of 10 basis points or less. We also set our usual parameters of requiring at least $100 million in assets and three years of operating history. And this time, we also excluded any funds with a minimum investment of more than $10,000.

Then we ranked those ultra-cheap funds by three-year returns. The resulting list was dominated by large-cap funds, mostly ETFS and mostly Vanguard products. Scroll through to see the top names, along with returns and expenses. All data is from Morningstar.


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