The Power of a Low-Cost Portfolio

May 19, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes
A common saying in the world of investing is “it’s not just how much you make, it’s how much you keep.” At the heart of this phrase lies the truth that minimizing costs in your investment strategy can help accelerate your journey towards building wealth. In general, the less money you spend on external costs when you invest, the quicker you can grow your portfolio. Below are some best practices to follow when building a low-cost investment plan:

Watch Out for Hidden Costs

All investment strategies come with costs, and these can often be overlooked by those new to the field. Trading commissions, management fees, expense ratios for mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and even tax liabilities can quickly erode your investment returns if not kept in check.

Consider this: if you were to invest $10,000 annually into a fund with a 7% return but had a 2% annual fee, over 30 years you'd end up with nearly $800,000. However, if the same investment had only a 0.2% annual fee, you'd end up with over $950,000. That's a staggering $150,000 difference. Seemingly insignificant percentages can mean tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to fees over the long term.

Build Wealth Faster with a Low-Cost Portfolio

Building a low-cost portfolio means focusing on investments that have low fees and other expenses, thus enabling more of your money to stay invested and compound over time. Here are a few strategies to help you achieve this:

Define Your Investment Goals

Your first step should be to clearly define your financial goals. What are you investing for? Retirement? A down payment on a home? Your child’s education? The answer will guide your investment strategy, including your risk tolerance timeline.

Take Advantage of Index Funds and ETFs

Index funds and ETFs have become increasingly popular due to their low expense ratios. They aim to replicate the performance of a specific index such as the S&P 500. Because these funds aren't actively managed, they can significantly cut down on management fees. Passive investing involves less trading, reducing costs such as broker fees and commissions. Index funds and ETFs have made it possible to diversify your portfolio at a relatively low cost. These funds offer broad market exposure for a fraction of the cost of buying each individual security. When selecting funds, pay attention to the expense ratio – the annual fees that all funds or ETFs charge their shareholders.

Prioritize Tax-Efficiency

Capital gains tax can take a significant chunk out of your earnings, so consider tax-efficient investing strategies. For example, hold investments for over a year to take advantage of long-term capital gains rates, and use tax-advantaged accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA.


This doesn't directly reduce costs, but it can protect your portfolio from the potential downfall of a single investment, thus potentially enhancing your net returns. A diversified portfolio spreads risk across different asset classes and sectors.

The Long-Term Impact

The beauty of a low-cost portfolio strategy is in its simplicity and long-term effect. The focus on minimizing costs doesn't require you to predict the market's direction or time your trades perfectly. Instead, you allow the power of compound interest to work its magic over time. Every dollar saved on costs is a dollar that can be reinvested, giving it the potential to grow exponentially.

A low-cost portfolio isn't just about being frugal. It's about maximizing your potential wealth by letting more of your money work for you. By trimming the costs associated with your investments, you are effectively boosting your returns and building your wealth faster.

The aim of a low-cost portfolio is to maximize your net returns over the long term. While it's important to minimize costs, it's also crucial to make informed investment decisions based on thorough research. Always remember that all investing involves risk, and it's important to invest in a way that aligns with your personal risk tolerance and financial goals. Reach out to Chicago Partners to set up an introductory meeting and complimentary portfolio audit with one of our advisors.

Remember, investing is a long-term game, and the most successful players are those who understand that every penny counts. The less you pay, the more you keep, and the faster you can build your wealth. So, next time you consider an investment, pay close attention to the costs. You might be surprised at just how much faster your wealth can grow with a low-cost portfolio.

Important Disclosure Information

Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC (“CP”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from CP. Please remember to contact CP, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. CP is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the commentary content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the CP’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.