ETFs are the best way for most Belgians to build their wealth and improve their financial future. But there are thousands of ETFs available in the market, and not all ETFs are of the same quality. Some are poorly diversified, with others you'll pay more taxes, or they're more expensive... To guide you in your decision, we carefully picked the best ETFs so you don't have to. We also explain the criteria behind our choices, which will teach you how to assess an ETF yourself.

Why ETFs are a great investment

ETFs are the best way for Belgians to do index investing. In index investing, you buy all the stocks in a market index. You aim to match the average return of the overall market. And index investing has proven to be a superior investing strategy than trying to pick stocks. ETFs are the best way for most Belgians to build their wealth:

  1. Low cost: ETFs are on average ten times cheaper than the active fund sold by your bank. That's because index funds are cheap to run. They simply track an index and don't need expensive analysts or specialists.
  2. Diversification: Diversification is the goal of index investing. It aims to spread across many countries and sectors. This reduces risk and increases the chance of including top-performing stocks.
  3. Connection to the real economy: Most index funds invest in stocks or bonds. Real companies with tangible assets back these.
  4. Accessibility: Index investing requires little capital to start, making it accessible to most.
  5. Tax efficiency: In Belgium, stock market investments are tax-efficient compared to other types of investments.
  6. Proven track record: Long-term index investing has delivered consistent returns historically, such as the MSCI World index's average yearly return of 10.8% since 1979.

How to select the best ETFs

There are a few criteria to consider selecting the best ETFs. Here’s a recap of the most important ones.

Follows an index

As we mentioned, the style of investing based on indexes, also called passive investing, is a superior strategy for most people. Active funds, the type of fund offered by most banks, are a lot more expensive and yield lower returns than an ETF that simply tracks an index.

Low cost

Most ETFs are already low-cost compared to active funds. But, when we have the choice between several ETFs that track the same index, we prefer the cheaper one.


Belgian investors should choose accumulating ETFs to cut taxes. As these funds directly reinvest their dividends, you won’t have to pay the 30% dividend tax.

Domiciled in Ireland or Luxembourg

Both countries have special tax treaties with many countries around the world. This makes it fiscally advantageous to invest in ETFs domiciled in Ireland or Luxembourg. You can recognise these by their ISIN code that starts with "IE" (Ireland) or "LU" (Luxembourg).

Diversified across many sectors and countries

Diversification is important when investing because it helps to reduce the overall risk. The main idea behind diversification is to avoid having all your eggs in one basket. This way, we reduce the impact of a single bad event. For example, if you only hold stocks from one sector and it has a downturn, the whole portfolio will suffer. If you had invested in an ETF that diversifies across industries, the downturn would have hurt the portfolio less.

Size matters

Larger funds are less likely to be shut down. A good rule is to consider only ETFs with at least €100 million.


When investing for the long term, we prefer physical replication over synthetic replication to reduce third-party risk.

The best ETFs for Belgians

Based on these criteria, we selected the best ETFs as a mix of our top global stocks ETFs and best bond ETFs:

ETF Type of asset Constituents Countries Cost
Stocks 3,022 47 0.17%
Vanguard FTSE All-World
Stocks 3,372 49 0.22%
Growth portfolio Stocks 7,504 49 0.28%
iShares Core MSCI World
Stocks 1,510 23 0.20%
iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI
Stocks 3,105 24 0.18%
Xtrackers II Eurozone Government Bond
Bonds 500 10 0.09%
SPDR Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond
Bonds 3,200 36 0.12%


Number of companies 3,022
Number of countries 47
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.17%

The SPDR MSCI ACWI IMI ETF (ISIN: IE00B6R52259) is one of the most diversified ETFs on the market. This fund, launched by SPDR in 2011, tracks the performance of the MSCI All-Country World IMI index, abbreviated as MSCI ACWI IMI. The index is composed of more than 3,000 companies from 23 developed and 24 emerging markets countries worldwide. Because it's so diversified, this ETF is a great way to invest in the global stock market. Do note that it does not exclude companies based on sustainability criteria.

Based on the historical data of the MSCI ACWI IMI index, it has delivered an average annual return of 7.9% between 1994 and 2024.

2. Vanguard FTSE All-World (IE00BK5BQT80)

Index FTSE All-World
Number of companies 3,372
Number of countries 49
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.22%

This ETF by Vanguard, commonly known under its ticker VWCE, continues to be a popular ETF for the Belgian index investing community. The fund, launched in 2019 to track the performance of the FTSE All-World Index, currently holds more than €11 billion under management. It's composed of approximately 3,300 stocks. And because it's so diversified, investors can find in VWCE a great way to follow the market and hold a significant portion of the world's stocks. Equities such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc… are represented in the fund. Like the previous fund by SPDR, it does not exclude stocks based on sustainability criteria. This can be a drag responsible investment ethics are important to you.

The most important downside of VWCE compared to the previous ETF by SPDR is the higher transaction tax (also called the TOB). The Belgian state levies this tax for every transaction you make on a stock exchange, whether it's to buy or sell. Most ETFs, like the one by SPDR, have a 0.12% tax rate on the transaction amount. But VWCE has a 1.32% rate because the ETF is registered in Belgium. We cover these downsides of VWCE and others in more detail.

Based on the historical data of the FTSE All-World index, the ETF has delivered an average return of 8.7% per year since 2005:

3. Growth portfolio

Index FTSE Developed All Cap Choice
FTSE Emerging All Cap Choice
Number of companies 7,504
Number of countries 49
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.28%

The Growth portfolio is a bit special because it's not a single ETF but a portfolio of funds. It's available through Curvo is and is a popular combination for Belgian investors who wish invest in the global economy for the long term. It's composed of two funds, both offered by Vanguard:

  • A fund tracking the FTSE Developed All Cap Choice index (ISIN: IE00B5456744)
  • A fund tracking the FTSE Emerging All Cap Choice index (ISIN: IE00BKV0W243)

Through the Growth portfolio, you invest in over 7,500 companies. The portfolio, one of five portfolios available, is managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm licensed by the Dutch regulator (AFM). It has returned approximately 8.5% annually since 2005:


Sustainable investing is challenging because everyone has different ethical beliefs and values. The funds in the Growth portfolio focus on one guiding principle: they don't support companies that are considered destructive to the planet. This means the following sectors are excluded:

  • non-renewable energy (nuclear power, fossil fuels)
  • vice products (adult entertainment, alcohol, gambling, tobacco)
  • weapons (civilian firearms, military weapons)
  • controversial companies, which are companies that do not meet the labour, human rights, environmental and anti-corruption standards defined by the United Nations Global Compact

Automated savings plans

You can invest in the Growth portfolio in an automated way by setting up a monthly savings plan. Every month, the amount of your choice will be debited from your bank account and automatically invested for you in the portfolio.

No Belgian transaction tax (TOB)

There’s a tax on the transaction every time you buy or sell a security, called the transaction tax ("beurstaks" or "taxe boursière" or TOB). The rules concerning the tax rate are complicated, also for ETFs. Even brokers are confused because they use different tax rates for the same ETF.

But contrary to all the ETFs listed here, there’s no transaction tax to be paid when investing through the Curvo app!

Fractional shares

Most brokers force you to buy units of stocks, with the consequence that you always have cash on the side not working for you. But you can buy fractions of the Growth portfolio. This means that all your money is invested for you.

Learn more on how Curvo works.

4. iShares Core MSCI World (IE00B4L5Y983)

Index MSCI World
Number of companies 1,510
Number of countries 23
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.20%

iShares Core MSCI World ETF is offered by iShares and is known by its ticker IWDA. It tracks the MSCI World index, an index that consists of about 1,500 stocks from 23 countries that economists qualify as "developed": United States, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia… Investing in IWDA means investing in a wide segment of the global economy. Many investors choose to simply invest in this one ETF as their entire portfolio.

Based on the historical data of the MSCI World index, the ETF has delivered an average annual return of 10.1% since 1979.

Does not invest in emerging markets

In contrast with the previous ETFs, IWDA does not invest in emerging countries like China or Brazil. That's why many opt for further diversification and combine their IWDA ETF with another fund such as EMIM, which focuses on stocks from emerging markets and that we discuss below.

Only invests in large companies

The MSCI World index tracks only the largest companies. These companies are called "large-cap", from "market capitalisation". But just like it's beneficial as an investor to diversify across countries, it's also a good idea to spread your bets across different company sizes. For instance, VWCE also includes smaller companies.

However, if you’re convinced of IWDA, take a look at our guide for buying IWDA.

5. iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI (IE00BKM4GZ66)

Index MSCI Emerging Markets IMI
Number of companies 3,105
Number of countries 24
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.18%

EMIM is offered by iShares and tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets IMI index, which is an alternative for the FTSE Emerging Markets index. The index consists of roughly 3,000 companies from 23 countries that economists qualify as "emerging": China, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Brazil… What’s also interesting is that you get significant diversification as you get small to large companies in one single fund.

Based on historical data of the underlying index, a €10,000 investment in EMIM in 1994 would have resulted in almost €40,000 in early 2024. That's a 4.8% average annual return:

Combining EMIM with IWDA to cover the world

IMIE, VWCE, and the Growth portfolio all invest in both developed markets and emerging markets. IWDA invests only in developed markets. But this reduced diversification can be repaired by combining it with this EMIM ETF. With this combination of IWDA and EMIM, both funds provided by iShares, is equivalent to VWCE when weighted in the right proportions.

Maintaining the right split between IWDA and EMIM

You’re essentially buying two different funds. If you wish to respect a market capitalisation weighting, the recommended split becomes 89% in IWDA and 11% in EMIM. The right allocation is something you have to manage yourself. It can become more cumbersome because the ratio changes over time.

Higher broker fees when investing in two ETFs

As you’re purchasing two ETFs, it also becomes more costly. After all, you have to make an additional transaction with each round of investments and pay the broker fees. This is why the simplicity of a single ETF is attractive for investors.

6. Xtrackers II Eurozone Government Bond (LU0643975591)

Index iBoxx EUR Sovereigns Eurozone
Number of bonds 500
Number of countries 10
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.09%
ISIN LU0643975591

The previous ETFs invest only in stocks. But depending on your risk profile, bonds can be an important part of a balanced portfolio that's right for you and your goals. Whereas stocks are very exciting (and scary when they sharply drop), bonds are very boring. They don't fluctuate as much.

Eurozone government bonds are a very safe way to invest, as Eurozone governments are very solvent. Through this ETF that tracks the iBoxx EUR Sovereigns Eurozone index, we take up to 7-year loans on average. Longer maturities do mean that the bonds are more sensitive to changes in interest rates. If interest rates rise, this ETF may fall. But if interest rates go down, the prices of the bonds in the ETF will rise.

This ETF is distributing and consists of almost 500 different bonds. And at a cost of 0.09% per year, this is one of the cheapest bond ETFs available on the market.

Based on historical data of the index and assuming interests are reinvested, it has returned an average 3.1% per year between 1999 and 2023:

7. SPDR Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond (IE00B3T9LM79)

Index Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond
Number of bonds 3,200
Number of countries 36
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.12%

This ETF by SPDR invests in corporate bonds denominated in euro by tracking the Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond index. But it's more diversified in two ways. First, it invests in bonds of all maturities, the average maturity being 5 years. Interest rates have risen sharply recently and even slightly longer corporate bonds now give an acceptable return to park your money. Secondly, it does not exclude bonds based on sustainability practices of the issuing company.

As a result, the ETF invests in over 3,200 high-quality euro bonds. With such a wide spread, the damage from an individual underperforming bond is barely noticeable. This ETF pays out its interest and the cost is 0.12% per year.

Based on historical data of the index and assuming interests are reinvested, it has returned an average 3.4% per year since 2009:

Which ETF to go for?

Global stock ETF for long investment period

If you have a long enough investment horizon and can mentally withstand the volatility of stocks, a global stock ETF like SPDR MSCI ACWI IMI is a good option. It gives great diversification in one ETF as it covers all the world's major stock markets. If you want a bit more control over your allocation to developing markets and emerging markets, you can combine the iShares Core MSCI World ETF (IWDA) with the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI ETF (EMIM).

Adding bonds for a balanced portfolio

Bonds have lower returns than stocks. But, they are important for your portfolio. As Ben Felix explained in his interview with us, bonds are not for seeking return. They are to cut volatility and steady a portfolio. Portfolios with more bonds and fewer stocks are better if you have a low risk appetite. Or, if your investment horizon is short.

Beyond their role of stabilising a portfolio, bonds are also great diversifiers. It turns out that oftentimes when stocks are dropping, bonds are rising, and vice versa. So the losses of one type of asset can be partially offset by the gains of the other. In finance speak, we say that there is little correlation between stocks and bonds.

Our selection contains both a government bond ETF and a corporate bond ETF. Investors generally consider government bonds safer than company bonds because they believe governments are more likely to be able to repay their debts. That also means that corporate bonds offer a higher return. In the light of diversification, it is a good idea to combine both types of bonds in a portfolio.

Find out more about bond ETFs in our list of best bond ETFs.

Invest in a portfolio built for you through Curvo

We examined the Growth portfolio available through the Curvo app. But Growth is only one of five portfolios, and each adapted to a different investor profile. When you sign up, the app asks you a series of questions, on how long you want to invest, your tolerance for risk, and your capacity for risk. Based on your answers, you will be matched with the right portfolio for you. Each portfolio is very diversified. It contains stocks from all over the world, as well as government and corporate bonds.

Other good ETFs

We wanted to highlight two ETFs that can still be worthwhile: an S&P 500 ETF and a Nasdaq-100 ETF. We also explain why we didn't include them in our top selection.

iShares Core S&P 500 (IE00B5BMR087)

Index S&P 500
Number of companies 503
Number of countries 1
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.07%

A popular ETF amongst Belgian investors is the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF. It's one of the better S&P 500 ETFs, and is offered by iShares, one of the largest fund providers in the world. S&P 500 stands for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and as the name suggests, it seeks to track the performance of an index composed of the 500 largest American companies (even though it holds 503 companies at the moment). Through the S&P 500, you get exposure to a large section of the US economy as it covers 80% of the total American market capitalisation.

Based on the historical data of the S&P 500 index, the ETF has delivered an average return of 10.4% per year since 1992. That’s quite a significant return on your investment if you began your investment journey in the early 90's:

But we didn't pick it because it invests only in American companies, so therefore lacks diversification. The 500 companies in the S&P 500 represent about 40% of the global stock market. This is significant, but it also means that you're leaving many companies aside if only investing in the S&P 500. There are great stocks to be held from other regions of the world, like Europe, Asia or South America.

Also, the US stock market has performed exceptionally well over the last 20 years. But that's not guarantee that it will over the next 20 years. Betting on a single country, no matter how dominant its market is at the moment, increases the likelihood of a bad outcome when investing for the long term.

iShares Nasdaq 100 (IE00B53SZB19)

Index Nasdaq-100
Number of companies 101
Number of countries 1
Total expense ratio (yearly cost) 0.33%

Following our theme of US stocks, this Nasdaq-100 ETF offered by iShares is another popular option for Belgian investors. It tracks the Nasdaq-100 index, which consists of 100 companies that are classified as technology companies. Industries such as hardware, software, telecommunications and biotechnology make up the index, and all major tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Tesla are in it.

Returns have been significant. Using historical data of the Nasdaq-100 index, a €10,000 investment in the Nasdaq-100 in 2007 would have resulted in more than €120,000 by early 2024. That's a staggering 16.5% average annual return:

An investment in the Nasdaq-100 lacks diversification, even more so than investing in the S&P 500. It focuses so heavily on the American tech industry. In fact, the Nasdaq-100 makes up only 15% of the global stock market. Tech stocks have seen incredible returns the last 20 years. But the past does not guarantee future returns. And it's a real possibility that this scenario won't repeat itself over the next 30 years. We cover the pros and cons of the Nasdaq-100 in more detail.

Buying ETFs through a broker

For many, their bank is the one-stop shop for anything related to finance. It's where they take their first steps into the world of investing. Unfortunately, they are likely not your best partner when it comes to investing. They are a lot more expensive than the alternatives.

A better way is through a specialised service called a broker. You access the markets through a broker. There, you can buy stocks, ETFs, bonds, and even some complex products like derivatives. But, investing through a broker comes with its challenges.

The allocation of your portfolio is in your hands

A single ETF does not make up a well-balanced portfolio. For instance, VWCE is very diversified. But, few investors can handle its volatile stocks. Also, if you invest for a shorter time, investing in stocks is not the right strategy. You may not have enough time to recover from a downturn. A balanced portfolio includes a mix of stocks, government bonds, and corporate bonds. This mix provides diversification and cuts risk. By investing in many types of assets, you achieve a balance between risk and return. This balance aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance.

The difficulty though is building that portfolio that suits you. When investing through a broker, you are responsible for finding the right mix for you.

You need to understand taxes

Taxes have an important impact on how you should invest. And unfortunately, taxes aren't simple in Belgium. But it's important you understand them if you are going to manage your portfolio of ETFs through a broker.

Requires discipline

Starting to invest is one thing. But it requires self-confidence and discipline to stay the course!

Brokers want you to trade

Research shows that buy-and-hold strategy works, where you hold your investments for a long time. It delivers higher returns for most people than active trading. The reason is that trading incurs taxes and transaction costs, which cut into your return. It also leads to making emotional investment decisions and to reacting to short-term market changes.

But the business model of brokers centers on trading. They need you to trade in order to generate revenue. That's why a broker like eToro has an inactivity fee, where they charge you $10 per month if you don't trade. Be careful with such brokers!

Curvo: easier than a broker

We understand that investing in ETFs through a broker can be daunting. This is especially true for someone who's starting to invest. We built Curvo to take away all the complexities of passive investing in ETFs and index funds. No need to search through thousands of ETFs or scour wikis to understand how to select a fund.

Invest in a portfolio tailored to you

Based on a questionnaire, the right mix of funds is selected that correspond to your goals and appetite for risk. The portfolios are managed by NNEK, a Dutch investment firm supervised by the Dutch regulator (AFM).

Get a better return on your time

Don't waste energy figuring out the intricacies of good investing. Start your investment plan and spend your free time on the things that matter most to you.

Set up a savings plan

Put your savings on autopilot. Select an amount and we will invest it every single month. Saving is easy when it's automated!

All your money is invested

In contrast with the majority of brokers, your investments work with fractional shares. This means that you are putting all your money to work. There will never be cash sitting on your account doing nothing.

No entry or exit fees

There are no transaction fees, entry or withdrawal fees.

Invest sustainably

Investing sustainably is challenging because everyone has different beliefs and values. We focus on one guiding principle: none of the portfolios invests in companies destructive to the planet.

Learn more about how Curvo works.

How Curvo works
How the Curvo app works


We covered our top ETFs for Belgian investors, and highlighted their pros and cons. We hope the list was helpful in making a choice! You've made the right choice with whichever ETF or mix of ETFs you choose. They are a great investment and provide diversification at a low cost. You can invest in ETFs through a broker, or through Curvo if you prefer an easier option.

Questions you may have

Which are the best ETFs?

Globally diversified ETFs are the best for most investors. Some of our favourite ETFs include:

  • Vanguard FTSE All-World (IE00BK5BQT80)
  • iShares Core MSCI World (IE00B4L5Y983)
  • Xtrackers II Eurozone Government Bond (LU0643975591)
  • SPDR Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond (IE00B3T9LM79)

Which ETF has the highest return?

Over the last 15 years, the iShares Nasdaq 100 ETF (CNDX) has been the best. It tracks the Nasdaq-100 index. Between 2007 and 2024, it has delivered an average yearly return of 16.5%! But don't forget that past performance is no guarantee for the future. Large tech companies like Apple and Amazon, which the Nasdaq-100 mostly consists of, have outperformed the rest of the market these last 15 years. But it's not a given that they will continue to outperform over the next decades.

What is the best ETF for the long term?

We believe that diversification is the most important criteria when investing for the long term because it helps to reduce the overall risk of your investments. Investing in a single stock or asset class exposes you to the risks associated with that specific stock or asset class. If the company or industry experiences problems, your entire portfolio could suffer.

Our selection of best ETFs for the long term are:

  1. SPDR MSCI ACWI IMI (IE00B3YLTY66) or Vanguard FTSE All-World (IE00BK5BQT80) to invest in stocks worldwide
  2. iShares Core MSCI World (IE00B4L5Y983) to invest in stocks from developed markets
  3. Xtrackers II Eurozone Government Bond (LU0643975591) to invest in euro government bonds
  4. SPDR Bloomberg Euro Corporate Bond (IE00B3T9LM79) to invest in corporate bonds

If you wish to invest for the long term but without using a broker, we suggest you take a look at Curvo.

Is S&P 500 the best ETF?

No. It only invests in the American stock market. So, it lacks diversification compared to a global stock ETF like SPDR MSCI ACWI IMI (IE00B3YLTY66).

Are ETFs still a good investment?

Most definitely. We think that ETFs are the best type of investment for most to improve their financial future. This is especially true compared to alternatives like stocks, real-estate, or crypto.

Which ETF should I buy as a beginner?

Beginners shouldn't invest any differently than other investors. A global stock ETF, like SPDR MSCI ACWI IMI (IE00B3YLTY66), possibly combined with a bond ETF, is a great portfolio for beginners and more experienced investors alike.