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Larry Bates has three different escape paths for you if you’re an investor who is sick of high-fee mutual funds sold by banks.

Mr. Bates is the author of a new book called Beat The Bank: The Canadian Guide to Simply Successful Investing. He’s an ex-banker on a mission to expose how the banks’ dominance of the mutual fund industry has cost investors through high fees. His three escape options are robo-advisers, picking your own stocks or building a portfolio with exchange-traded funds.

Globe readers ask me questions all the time about how to get started with ETFs, so I asked Mr. Bates to focus on this option. “I call investing with ETFs ‘assemble it yourself,’ to differentiate it from the do-it-yourself investors,” he said. “You don’t have to pick a stock, you don’t have to analyze a balance sheet. If you’re smart about your portfolio, just keep it super simple and assemble it with ETFs.”

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To help investors make the transition from mutual funds to a properly diversified group of low-cost ETFs, Mr. Bates came up with portfolio examples for four different demographics using a selection of ETFs from a variety of issuers. The portfolios he created are definitely simple – they all contain between one and three ETFs, max. Mr. Bates assumes an investor would hold these portfolios for about 25 years. To further your research on suitable ETFs, try our Globe and Mail ETF Buyers’ Guide.

For Gen Y investors:

Stocks/bonds split: 100/0

Mix: One-half Canadian stocks, one-half U.S. stocks

ETF examples: Shares S&P/TSX 60 Index ETF (XIU), BMO S&P 500 Index ETF (ZSP)

Comments: Some bonds would help smooth the ride with this portfolio, but Mr. Bates said young people investing for retirement can afford the higher risk level of an all-stocks portfolio; the worldwide reach of many S&P 500 stocks helps give this portfolio global diversification, but you could also add an international equity ETF.

For Gen X investors:

Stocks/bonds split: 80/20

Mix: 20 per cent bonds, 40 per cent Canadian stocks, 40 per cent global stocks

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ETF examples: BMO Short-Term Bond Index ETF (ZSB), RBC Canadian Equity Index ETF (RCAN), iShares Core MSCI All Country World ex Canada Index ETF (XAW)

Comments: Global ETFs typically have about half of their assets in U.S. stocks.

For preretirement boomers:

Stocks/bonds split: 60/40

Mix: Just buy a balanced ETF, also called an asset allocation ETF.

ETF examples: Vanguard Balanced ETF Portfolio (VBAL)

Comments: Both Vanguard and Horizons have recently introduced ETFs that provide a constant blend of bonds and stocks from Canada and around the world. There are several different ETFs, all with different asset mixes.

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For boomers just retired:

Stocks/bonds split: 40/60

Mix: 60 per cent bonds, 20 per cent Canadian stocks, 20 per cent global stocks

ETF examples: Vanguard Canadian Short-Term Bond Index ETF (VSB), Horizons Canadian High Dividend Index ETF (HXH), TD S&P 500 Index ETF (TPU).

Comments: Mr. Bates said this portfolio might be on the conservative side for someone who lives for 25 or 30 years in retirement and wants to achieve some growth in their portfolio over that time; an international equity ETF could be added for additional coverage of stock markets outside North America.

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