RSP vs SPY – Comparing Expense Ratios & Performance

Updated May 13, 2024

Choosing the right strategy for your investment portfolio is crucial. Does the equal weight approach outperform the market cap-weighted method? RSP and SPY are major players in the ETF field. 

Yet, the question remains: which is better? RSP, known for reducing concentration risk, and SPY, famous for its returns, are at the center of this debate.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite having lower annualized returns, RSP offers a competitive edge with its higher dividend yield, making it enticing for income-focused investors.
  • SPY shows stronger performance in both short-term and long-term scenarios, prompting investors to examine the importance of growth in their portfolios.
  • RSP indicates lower volatility, suggesting a smoother ride for investors, contrary to its higher maximum drawdown compared with SPY.
  • Discerning investors must disentangle the web of risk and performance metrics to precisely tailor their investment approach.

RSP vs SPY: An Overview of Investment Strategies

The Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP) and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) showcase unique investment tactics. They reveal how ETF allocations and index approaches vary in effect on portfolios. This comparison offers deep insights into their market representation and allure for investors.

Understanding RSP: Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF

RSP employs an equal weight strategy, uniformly allocating across S&P 500 companies, irrespective of size. This not only spreads risk but also bolsters return potential from smaller firms. These firms may outshine their larger counterparts, showing the efficacy of this strategy.

Understanding SPY: SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust

In contrast, SPY utilizes a cap-weighted index approach, giving larger firms more portfolio weight. This makes SPY attractive for those seeking the consistency and reduced volatility of dominant index players. It suits investors favoring stability through large-cap stocks.

Comparison of Investment Approaches

Choosing between RSP and SPY means analyzing their fundamental investment principles:

  • RSP's equal weight strategy: Ensures an even spread, potentially decreasing drag from the biggest index members while increasing exposure to smaller companies' growth.
  • SPY's market cap weighted approach: Prefers leading corporations, which may provide more steadiness in market downturns thanks to the power of large-cap stocks.

The strategic index methods behind both ETFs cater to varied investor needs based on risk appetite, time horizon, and financial objectives. This demonstrates their distinct philosophies and the diverse appeal they hold for different investor types.

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Comparing Historical Performance and Returns

Exploring the past performance of SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) and Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP) discloses unique investment growth comparison. The distinct directions they've taken across various periods offer insights for investors. It highlights the choices they face in asset allocation.

10-Year Annualized Returns: A Decade in Review

Considering the last 10 years gives us a wide view of their success, with SPY significantly ahead. It achieved an annualized return of 12.64%, much higher than RSP's 10.29%. Such a difference outlines the effect of differing investment methods on returns over a long period.

Year-to-Date Returns: RSP's 5.70% vs SPY's 9.92%

Looking at a shorter span, SPY continues to outperform, seeing a 9.92% compared to RSP's 5.70%. SPY's large tech stock emphasis has likely helped it navigate recent market shifts. It's a demonstration of the potential benefits of its approach amidst current trends.

Growth of $10,000 Investment Over Time

A comparison of these ETFs from a $10,000 starting point shows divergence in growth. SPY has shown more notable increase, thanks to its strong annualized returns and solid 10-year returns. Visuals of these investments demonstrate their reaction to significant economic events, revealing their adaptability or susceptibility.

Analysis of Expense Ratios and Their Impact

Cost-effective investing hinges on grasping the effect of expense ratios to boost returns. Comparing ETF fees, RSP and SPY diverge significantly in cost efficiency. RSP carries a 0.20% ratio, while SPY boasts the stingier 0.09%. This disparity prompts a rethink on long-term investing plans.

  • Expense Ratio Impact: Although both ETFs sit below the industry standard, the difference is stark. SPY's advantage via a lower ratio positions it as the more economical pick over the years.
  • Cost-Efficient Investing: For those keen on cutting operational costs, SPY proves valuable. Its reduced fees lead to considerable savings and boosted net returns over time.
  • ETF Fees Comparison: The critical lens on fund assessments lies in understanding how fees nibble away at gains. Here, RSP’s higher ratio might trim your yield, limiting long-term growth against SPY.

The expense ratio's sway on investments underscores the need for a smart, savvy portfolio management approach. This keen examination of ETF fees can steer investors towards savvier, lower-cost choices.

Evaluating Risk-Adjusted Performance Metrics

Investigating the S&P 500 sector reveals the importance of risk-adjusted performance metrics. They shed light on how efficiently ETFs like RSP and SPY handle risks in light of their returns. This closer look helps us compare how well each ETF balances risk with return gains.

Understanding Sharpe and Sortino Ratios

The Sharpe ratio and Sortino ratio are key in evaluating investment quality and its risk-adjusted performance. A higher Sharpe ratio of 2.43 for SPY over RSP's 1.55 implies SPY might deliver better returns relative to the risk. Comparatively, SPY's Sortino ratio of 3.44 tops RSP's 2.25, showing SPY may be more preferable for cautious investors.

Assessing Omega and Calmar Ratios for Informed Decisions

Looking at the Omega ratio and Calmar ratio, SPY also emerges as the stronger contender. It boasts a 1.42 Omega ratio and a 2.26 Calmar ratio. These figures prove SPY's solid ability to both generate returns above a minimum standard and handle significant falls in value. RSP, with less favorable scores of 1.27 and 1.18 in these ratios, falls behind in these capabilities.

Comparative Analysis of Martin Ratios

The Martin ratio, a detailed metric for risk-adjusted performance, further confirms SPY's lead with a 9.66 score against RSP’s 4.19. This indicates SPY's potential for better performance when managing the risks in a market downturn, an edge above RSP.

These assessments offer a thorough perspective on the ETFs' performance in contrast to their risks. Such insight is crucial for well-informed decisions, especially in the unstable stock market environment.

Dividend Yields: A Critical Factor for Income Investors

For investors aiming to gain income from their stock investments, the examination of different ETFs' dividend yields is key. It is vital to compare RSP and SPY dividends to grasp the essence of this comparison. Such insight is critical for crafting effective long-term investment plans. The difference in yields between RSP and SPY significantly influences the choice of investors based on their income objectives.

  • RSP vs SPY Dividends: RSP boasts a higher dividend yield, around 1.55%, compared to SPY's 1.29%. This factor makes RSP more appealing for those looking to bolster their income from investments.
  • Dividend Yield Comparison: RSP's higher yield suggests it could deliver more returns to investors for each dollar invested, compared to SPY. This highlights its allure for dividend-focused investors.
  • ETF Income Generation: RSP's superior dividend yield presents a vital consideration for investors. It acts as a counterbalance, especially when comparing performance and volatility aspects.

Grasping these aspects enables the customization of investment strategies. This ensures not just potential growth but also a reliable income. Such an approach is key for achieving a financial stance that is both diverse and robust.


As our journey into the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP) and SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) concludes, their differences sharpen. 

SPY outshines with its performance, lower costs, and stronger risk-adjusted returns. It emerges as a prime choice for those valuing growth and stability. The attributes of SPY are especially enticing to investors focused on strategic investment planning.

RSP, however, stands out with its appealing dividend yield. Its equal-weight approach ensures each company has an equal impact, offering a fresh perspective on diversification. This method counters the more common market capitalization-weighted strategies seen in ETFs. Thus, RSP presents a compelling option for investors seeking broad exposure to the S&P 500.


What are the main differences between RSP and SPY ETFs?

RSP and SPY have distinct approaches. RSP gives equal importance to all S&P 500 companies. On the other hand, SPY focuses on companies' market size.

How do the historical performances of RSP and SPY compare over a decade?

Over ten years, SPY generally did better than RSP. It had a yearly return of 12.64% versus RSP's 10.29%, after adjusting for splits and dividends.

How do the dividend yields of RSP and SPY compare?

RSP offers a dividend yield of 1.55%, higher than SPY's 1.29%. This difference makes RSP more appealing to those seeking income.

Jerry Garnes

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About the Author

Jerry Garnes is a seasoned writer in personal finance. His informative and insightful pieces have been featured by esteemed platforms like Bankrate, The Street, and Business Insider. In addition to his financial expertise, Jerry is a passionate poet and musician with a deep love for nature.

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