iShares XBAL Review 2022: Balanced Growth All-In-One ETF Portfolio

Looking for an easy way to invest in ETFs without the hassle of building your own portfolio?

Consider all-in-one ETF portfolios, which have grown extremely popular in Canada in the last few years.

This iShares XBAL review will shed some light on whether or not this balanced growth ETF is right for you.

Our Verdict
IShares XBAL Review 2021
9/10Our Score

BlackRock iShares XBAL

ETF portfolio

The BlackRock iShares Core Balanced ETF Portfolio XBAL is an all-in-one ETF portfolio that provides investors with a lower-risk exposure to a diverse basket of securities.

Pros
  • Low MER
  • Easy to purchase
  • One-fund solution with automatic rebalancing
  • Well-diversified, with over 20,000 underlying stocks
Cons
  • Might be too heavily tech-weighted

What is iShares XBAL ETF Portfolio?

According to BlackRock, its iShares Core Balanced ETF portfolio is designed to provide investors with long-term capital growth and income.

It offers a low- to medium-risk to your portfolio with a 60-40 split between stocks and bonds for its asset allocation. 

Comparable to the likes of Vanguard VBAL and BMO ZBAL, iShares XBAL is a low-cost all-in-one ETF portfolio that is eligible for both registered and non-registered accounts.

XBAL.TO is currently trading at close to $23.76.

XBAL Key Facts

As of June 30, 2022:

  • Ticker Symbol: XBAL.TO
  • Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange
  • Assets Under Management: $10.8 Billion
  • MER: 0.18%
  • 12-Month Trailing Yield: 2.86%
  • Currency Traded: CAD
  • Number of underlying stocks: 20524
  • Registered Accounts Availability: Yes

How do All-In-One Portfolios Work?

All-in-one ETFs are essentially a portfolio of several ETFs designed to make diversified and passive investing easier for investors.

Before all-in-one ETFs came around, it was much more difficult to make an ETF portfolio. You would have to purchase several ETFs yourself and rebalance them to align with your investment goals and risk tolerance based on each ETF’s performance.

You can find out more details about all-in-one ETFs here.

iShares XBAL MER and Fees

iShares XBAL has a Management Expense Ratio (MER) that is significantly low at 0.20%.

Considering the charges for mutual fund products being over 2% on average, it is easy to see why many Canadians are choosing all-in-one ETF portfolios like iShares XBAL over mutual funds.

iShares XBAL Dividends

iShares XBAL’s dividend yield as of June 30, 2022:

  • 12-month trailing yield: 2.19%
  • Distribution yield: 3.08%
  • Dividend schedule: Quarterly

iShares XBAL Performance and Returns

Here is the hypothetical growth of $10,000 if you had invested it since XBAL’s inception:

 1y3y5y10yIncept.
Average Annual Return (%) -10.593.223.984.934.41

Go to the Blackrock website for real-time performance numbers of XBAL.

What does iShares XBAL Invest in?

IShares XBAL Asset Allocation

iShares XBAL is traditionally a balanced portfolio that offers investors 60% exposure to stocks and 40% exposure to bonds. You can see that it sticks close to that amount here:

As of July 12, 2022:

Allocations are subject to change

TypeFund
Equity59.16
Fixed Income40.82
Cash and/or Derivatives0.03

Source: Blackrock.com

iShares XBAL Top Holdings

iShares XBAL invests in various ETFs managed by BlackRock Fund Management.

Its most significant holding is in iShares Core S&P Total US Stock ETF (ITOT) as of July 11, 2022.

TickerNameSectorWeight (%)
ITOTISHARES CORE S&P TOTAL U.S. STOCKCorporates27.27
XBBISHS CORE CAD UNIV BND IDX ETF (CACorporates25.69
XICISHARES S&P/TSX CAPPED COMPOSITECorporates15.14
XEFISHARES MSCI EAFE IMI INDEXCorporates14.21
XSHiShares Core CAD ST Cor Bd IndexCorporates6.63
GOVTISHARES US TREASURY BOND ETFTreasury4.21
USIGISHARES BROAD USD INVESTMENT GCorporates4.03
IEMGISHARES CORE MSCI EMERGING MARKETSCorporates2.79
USDUSD CASHCash and/or Derivatives0.07
CADCAD CASHCash and/or Derivatives0.03
Source: Blackrock.com

XBAL Aggregate Underlying Holdings

The top holdings are heavily dominated by tech and finance, as seen here (As of July 11, 2022):

TickerNameWeight (%)Sector
AAPLAPPLE INC1.58Information Technology
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP1.40Information Technology
RYROYAL BANK OF CANADA1.00Financials
TDTORONTO DOMINION0.82Financials
AMZNAMAZON COM INC0.69Consumer Discretionary
ENBENBRIDGE INC0.61Energy
BNSBANK OF NOVA SCOTIA0.50Financials
GOOGLALPHABET INC CLASS A0.49Communication
CPCANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD0.48Industrials
CNRCANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY0.48Industrials
Source: Blackrock.com

iShares XBAL Sector Weighting

BlackRock iShares XBAL provides its investors with highly diversified exposure to different sectors of the global economy.

Here is the breakdown, as of Jul 12, 2022:

SectorsInvestment %
 Basic Materials6.07
 Consumer Cyclical9.30
 Financial Services19.07
 Real Estate3.59
 Communication Services6.86
 Energy7.75
 Industrials11.28
 Technology15.35
 Consumer Defensive6.69
 Healthcare10.40
 Utilities3.62
Source: Morningstar.com

iShares XBAL Risk Indicator

iShares XBAL has a low-to-medium risk factor.

Source: Blackrock.com

iShares XBAL vs. Other ETFs

iShares XBAL vs. Vanguard VBAL

Vanguard VBAL is Vanguard’s Balanced All-In-One ETF portfolio that is comparable to iShares XBAL in terms of what it invests in and its investment goals.

However, VBAL provides investors with lower exposure to US stocks than XBAL and more exposure to the Canadian equity market. Additionally, VBAL has a higher MER of 0.25%.

Read my full Vanguard VBAL Review here to find out more.

iShares XBAL vs. iShares XAW

iShares XAW is another ETF portfolio offered by BlackRock. Unlike iShares XBAL, XAW is an ETF that invests primarily in equity securities. Additionally, XAW does not provide investors with exposure to the Canadian equity market.

If you are looking to invest in a diverse selection of stocks without any Canadian stocks in your portfolio, you can consider investing in iShares XAW instead.

How to Buy BlackRock iShares XBAL ETF in Canada

The cheapest way to buy ETFs is from discount brokers. My top choices in Canada are:

Readers Choice
Qtrade
Qtrade
  • 105 commission-free ETFs to buy and sell
  • Excellent customer service
  • Top-notch market research tools
  • Easy-to-use and stable platform 
Low Fees
Wealthsimple Trade
Wealthsimple Trade
  • Stock and ETF buys and sells have $0 trading fees
  • Desktop and mobile trading
  • Reputable fintech company
  • Fractional shares available
Well-Rounded
Questrade
Questrade
  • ETF buys have $0 trading fees
  • Excellent market research tools
  • Most types of registered accounts available

To learn more, check out my full breakdown of the best trading platforms in Canada.

Is iShares XBAL a Good Investment For You?

Balanced portfolios like the iShares Core Balanced ETF portfolio (XBAL) are suitable for investors with moderate risk tolerance, and provide you with capital preservation, and relatively lower volatility in a turbulent market.

iShares XBAL provides you with reduced risk by balancing equity securities with fixed-income securities, but that does not mean there is no risk. Though compared to aggressive or high-growth portfolios, XBAL can provide you with milder ups and downs.

If you are new to investing and want to get your feet wet in stock market investing, are close to retirement but want to grow your wealth, or just hate seeing too much volatility in your investment account, iShares XBAL could work out for you.

You will not have to manually rebalance the ETFs you invest in because the all-in-one ETF portfolio will automatically rebalance to align with its investing goals.

Conclusion

All-in-one ETF portfolios provide investors with a one-stop solution that takes the hassle out of investing.

Instead of choosing individual stocks or ETFs to align with your investment goals, you can allow the all-in-one ETF portfolio to handle it all for you.

The BlackRock iShares XBAL ETF portfolio is typically an excellent way for you to invest if you have a low to moderate risk tolerance.

Learn more about iShares all-in-one ETFs here.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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