Explain: Why Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Is the Biggest Fund in the World?


Triston Martin

Nov 13, 2023


The Vanguard Total World Stock Index provides investors with unparalleled diversification. This all-encompassing portfolio invests in a little bit of every investable stock in the globe for a small annual fee, and it holds a piece of each. Because of these traits, it ought to be challenging to defeat in the long run. This product replicates the performance of the FTSE Global All-Cap Index, which consists of stocks listed in both developed and emerging economies and comprises companies of all sizes.

It does so by weighting stocks according to market capitalization. This technique is advantageous to investors since it captures the market's consensus regarding each company's value while reducing turnover. Because the market generally provides a correct valuation of stocks over time, market-cap weighting might be difficult to outperform. When an industry is experiencing growth and optimism, it may occasionally cause the fund to invest in more costly stocks.

History Of Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund

The CRSP U.S. Total Market Index is followed by the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, which was created to give investors access to the whole U.S. stock market and is based on the CRSP U.S. Total Market Index. The index includes practically all equities available for investment in the United States. According to Morningstar, the fund is classified as a large-blend investment.

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon.com, Facebook, and Johnson & Johnson are the companies that make up most of the fund's assets. As of the 20th of September 2022, the fund had over $265.99 billion in assets, distributed across 4,079 different holdings. All these rankings are relative to the fund's performance over the preceding period. The highest possible category placement would be in the first percentile, while the worst would be in the hundredth percentile.

What Makes VTSAX the Biggest and the Best?

In 2018, VTSMX stopped accepting investments from new parties. In contrast, if you invest in the Admiral Shares version of the fund (VTSAX), which has a lower expense ratio and the exact minimum investment requirement of $3,000, you will pay a lower total expense ratio. The Admiral shares of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSAX) possess many of the same characteristics as the most acceptable index funds, including diversification, low fees, low turnover, and tax efficiency, among other attributes. Investing in VTSAX comes with several benefits, including the following:

Diverse Holdings

The purpose of the VTSAX is to give investors access to the entire U.S. equity market. This includes small, mid, and large-cap corporations and growth and value companies. The fund attempts to replicate the performance of the CRSP US Total Market Index, which covers roughly one hundred percent of the investable U.S. equities market. Because the fund is capitalization-weighted, the stocks with the highest market capitalization constitute a more significant proportion of the portfolio than those with lower capitalizations.

Low Expenses

Because VTSAX follows a strategy that is considered passive, there is no requirement for the research and trading fees that are typical of active management. VTSAX has an expense ratio of 0.04%, which is incredibly low compared to the industry's standards. This equates to just $4 in fees for every $10,000 invested.

Low Turnover

The VTSAX's low turnover rate of 8% is a significant contributor to the index's low operating expenses (as of fiscal year-end December 2020). The term "turnover" refers to the proportion of a fund's holdings that were swapped out for another investment over the preceding calendar year (thus the time "turned over"). The turnover percentages of actively managed stock funds frequently surpass 50%, leading to higher costs and poorer performance over the long term.


A decrease in taxes passed through to the investor is the direct outcome of low turnover. A capital gains tax is generated when mutual funds sell securities more significantly than the acquisition price. This tax is then "passed along" to investors through "capital gains distributions." If you have a stock fund in a taxable account, you must pay taxes on any distributions from that fund. To spend the least amount of tax possible, you should consider tax-efficient funds such as VTSAX.

While VTSAX is already a diversified investment in and of itself, many traders would be advised to purchase other diversified assets to round out their portfolio. The Balance does not offer investment, tax advice, or other financial services. This material is provided without considering any individual's investment goals, risk tolerance, or economic circumstances. Therefore it is possible that it is not appropriate for all investors. The performance of the past does not guarantee the results of the future. Investing in anything exposes you to the possibility of suffering a loss of principal.


Although Vanguard is best known for its low-cost index products, the company also provides many actively managed funds. The low-cost approach taken by the organization in recent years has resulted in considerable increases in the number of assets flowing into its funds. Vanguard currently manages over $7 trillion in assets management (also known as AUM), offering over 410 funds worldwide.

A relatively small number of Vanguard funds can be used to construct an investor's complete, diversified, and cost-effective investing portfolio. The company also provides a user-friendly and easily accessible brokerage platform, which enables ordinary retail investors to forego a financial advisor's assistance in pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy.


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