VOO vs VOOG – Comparing Expense Ratios & Performance

Updated April 29, 2024

For an astute investor, crafting a balanced portfolio that capitalizes on S&P 500 ETFs is akin to setting sail on a vast financial ocean with the most reliable navigational tools. If you're charting a course towards substantial investment returns, understanding the difference between Vanguard's VOO and VOOG ETFs is pivotal.

The former brings a tried-and-true approach to financial planning with broad market exposure, while the latter promises the allure of exponential growth. Join us as we delve into these two formidable ETFs to aid you in steering towards a prosperous investment horizon.

Key Takeaways

  • VOO is noted for its low expense ratio and consistent performance, tracking the S&P 500 Index comprehensively.
  • VOOG targets growth stocks within the S&P 500, aiming for potentially higher returns reflective of their growth characteristics.
  • Both ETFs serve distinct investor profiles, which means examining personal investment goals is critical.
  • Analyzing past ETF performance and future growth trajectories can be pivotal in effective investment decision-making.

Understanding VOO and VOOG Investment Strategies

Delving into the world of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) can be transformative for one’s investment portfolio.

Two notable ETFs that offer distinct pathways to achieving financial goals are VOO and VOOG. Each fund embodies a unique investment strategy that aligns with different investor objectives, whether it's seeking market-wide exposure or targeting higher growth through growth stocks. 

Let's explore the strategies that define these investment vehicles.

VOO: Embracing the Market Breadth

VOO embodies a comprehensive investment strategy by tracking the performance of the S&P 500 Index. This ETF extends market exposure to investors through a broad spectrum of industries, delivering a diversified portfolio that includes 506 of the most substantial American firms.

With its low-cost approach and minimal expense ratio, VOO stands as a go-to for those seeking a robust and cost-effective entry into top-tier U.S. companies, underpinning traditional investment strategies.

VOOG: Focused on Market Growth

In contrast to its counterpart, VOOG follows the S&P 500 Growth Index, concentrating on companies showing promising growth characteristics. This ETF zeroes in on growth stocks, offering the potential for higher returns by tapping into the momentum of thriving sectors.

While this might come with a marginally higher expense ratio, the focus on market growth caters to investors aiming for an assertive ETF investment stance that could lead to significant gains as those companies continue to expand and innovate.

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Performance Metrics: VOO vs VOOG

Investors keen on understanding the subtleties of investment performance often scrutinize historical ETF metrics to guide their decisions. A comparative view of VOO returns versus VOOG returns is particularly telling for those evaluating Vanguard's offerings.

Recent data reveals that VOOG returns have consistently outshone VOO. The more growth-oriented VOOG has shone brightly over various periods, particularly in environments conducive to growth equities. Let's delve into the figures that illuminate these trends:

  • Year-To-Date Performance: VOOG turned heads with an 11.75% return, overshadowing VOO's respectable 8.75%.
  • Decade of Growth: Over the last ten years, VOOG's annualized returns stand at an impressive 14.42%, compared to VOO's 12.97%.

While VOOG's agility has been apparent in its superior returns, both VOO and VOOG display a notable correlation of 0.95.

This statistical closeness suggests that while their individual performances may differ, they often move in tandem, underscoring the wisdom in diversifying one's investment portfolio.

Examining the Growth Trends: VOO vs VOOG

Understanding the historical ETF performance of VOO versus VOOG is invaluable for investors aiming to capture long-term investment growth. Analyzing past market trends and ETF growth analysis helps in strategizing for future portfolio expansion and capital appreciation.

Historical Returns Analysis

VOOG's investment in growth stocks has historically outpaced the overall S&P 500 growth, presenting a strong case for its inclusion in growth-focused portfolios. The data over the past few years has highlighted a consistent trend:

  • VOOG's 5-year annualized return stands at a robust 15.91%, compared to VOO's 14.91%.
  • For a more recent perspective, VOOG's 3-year annualized return amounts to 11.18%, while VOO lags slightly at 10.38%.

These figures demonstrate VOOG's superior performance during periods when the market favors growth-oriented stocks.

Investment Growth Comparison

  • An initial investment of $10,000 in VOOG would have grown to a striking 609.77%, showcasing the dynamic potential of investing in growth stocks.
  • In comparison, the same amount in VOO would have experienced growth to 506.62%, albeit impressive, but not quite at the level of VOOG's growth trajectory.

This comparative growth underpins the significance of choosing the right ETFs to align with long-term investment strategies and the pursuit of capital appreciation.

Risk Factors and Volatility Discernment

When investing in ETFs like VOO and VOOG, understanding the nuanced layers of investment risk and market volatility is key to making informed decisions. Evaluating financial metrics such as risk-adjusted returns provides insight into the performance one can expect relative to the level of risk assumed.

Let's delve deeper into the risk profiles of these two ETFs by examining their Sharpe Ratios and analyzing their volatility and drawdown patterns.

Evaluating Risk-Adjusted Performance

The Sharpe Ratio is a popular financial metric used to assess the risk-adjusted returns of an investment. As a rule of thumb, the higher the Sharpe Ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted returns.

Respectively, VOOG's Sharpe Ratio at 3.17 suggests that investors are rewarded with considerable returns for the risks taken, closely echoed by VOO's ratio at 3.01. 

These figures demonstrate that both VOO and VOOG are competent at delivering returns that are in line with the risk investors are expected to carry.

Volatility and Maximum Drawdown Comparisons

The discussion of risk factors in investment decisions extends to understanding volatility. Volatility provides a snapshot of price variations, and with VOOG exhibiting a 5.41% volatility rate, investors can expect broader swings compared to VOO's more modest 3.67%. This higher volatility mirrors the aggressive nature of growth-oriented ETFs, capturing the dynamic movements characteristic of growth stocks, particularly during the fabled 'market downturns.'

A look at the maximum drawdown further unveils the potential intensity of value declines during tumultuous market periods. VOOG stands at a -32.73% maximum drawdown, and VOO is not far behind at -33.99%, indicating comparable downturn vulnerability in extreme scenarios.

These factors are the linchpins of portfolio risk analysis for both the stalwart investor and the newcomer gauging the balance between potential returns and tolerance for market jolts.

Understanding Dividends: VOO vs VOOG

For those vested in income investing, a critical facet of the decision-making process encompasses the dividend yield comparison between potential ETF investments. The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) and the Vanguard S&P 500 Growth ETF (VOOG) present a compelling case study in this respect.

The trailing twelve-month yield—a preferred measure for the most recent dividend payout trends—paints a clear picture.

VOOG's Dividend Outlook

With a trailing twelve-month yield hovering around 1.01%, VOOG may not be the frontrunner for investors whose primary goal is income generation. However, it plays its role in a balanced portfolio that also appreciates capital appreciation.

VOO's Dividend Appeal:

VOO, on the other hand, boasts a more generous trailing twelve-month yield of 1.34%. This factor alone can tip the scales for those preferring a steady stream of income, particularly individuals plotting a course for a financially secure retirement.

While growth prospects are an important consideration, dividends can offer a regular income stream, making VOO a potentially more attractive option for those with an eye towards consistent, long-term dividend returns. Remember, evaluating the role of each ETF within the broader landscape of your investment portfolio will be paramount to aligning with your financial goals.

Analyzing the Expense Ratios

When evaluating Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) like VOO and VOOG, savvy investors pay close attention to fund management costs, which encompass the expense ratio of each fund. This number, seemingly small when viewed in isolation, has a major impact on an investor's expenses over time.

Let's delve into the nuances of how these expenses differ between VOO and VOOG, and the potential long-term implications on an investor's portfolio.

Differences in the Cost of Investment

The expense ratio represents annual fund management costs, charged as a percentage of an investor's total holdings in the fund. VOOG, with an expense ratio of 0.10%, may seem economical at a glance; however, it is nearly three times higher than VOO's cost-efficient 0.03%.

This difference might appear negligible today, but can translate into a substantial gap in investor's expenses after several years of compound growth, especially when amplifying investments reach the 7 figure range.

Long-Term Impact of Expense Ratios on Returns

The long-term effects of these fund management costs become particularly pronounced when examining compound returns. Over a 7-year period or longer, the influence of a lower expense ratio can greatly enhance portfolio performance.

VOO's attractive ratio allows for a greater proportion of returns to compound, free from the drag of excess fees, potentially safeguarding thousands of dollars from being diminished by management expenses.

For long-haul investors, this underscores the value of paying close attention to even the smallest differences in expense ratios when crafting their investment strategies.


Ascertaining the most suitable investment choice between VOO and VOOG ETFs hinges on understanding each fund's unique attributes and how they align with your financial objectives.

VOO offers a gateway to a more expansive range of large-cap U.S. companies, delivering a higher dividend yield which can be particularly captivating for those prioritizing a steady stream of income in their ETF portfolio.

On the flip side, VOOG shines in scenarios where growth is paramount, capturing the essence of the S&P 500 Growth Index and yielding impressive returns during periods where growth stocks outperform the broader market. However, with higher returns comes increased volatility, placing it in the domain of those investors willing to embrace risk for the potential of accelerated financial growth.

Both VOO and VOOG present compelling avenues for portfolio diversification and potential wealth accumulation.


What is the main difference between the VOO and the VOOG ETFs?

The main difference is that VOO targets the entire S&P 500 Index for broad market exposure, while VOOG focuses on the S&P 500 Growth Index, targeting companies with strong growth characteristics.

How do the historical returns of VOO compare to VOOG?

Historically, VOOG has outperformed VOO in terms of long-term annualized returns, with higher year-to-date, 3-year, and 5-year annual returns.

Are the expense ratios for VOO and VOOG the same?

No, VOO has a lower expense ratio of 0.03%, which is beneficial for cost-conscious investors, while VOOG's expense ratio is higher at 0.10%.

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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