Would You Invest In These 5 Outlandish Fantasy ETFs?

You can invest in anything you want and it’s time to get creative

Reviewed by: Farah Khalique
Edited by: Farah Khalique

Picture this - you've been asked to build your own index to underpin a brand spanking new exchange-traded fund (ETF). Would you play it safe and create something mainstream, or play Russian roulette and offer investors something a bit wacky?

Esoteric ETFs are having a moment in the spotlight, as investors look beyond traditional indexes in their hunt for the 'next big thing'. Cybersecurity, immunotherapy and robotics are just a few of the themes underlying the hottest new ETFs, with more on the way. Savvy individuals are competing to create new indexes, in the hope of collaborating with ETF providers to offer their specialist index to hungry investors.

The right index can spawn hugely successful ETFs like HACK, which tapped into people's fear over cybersecurity and pulled in over $1 billion in assets. Big data company Market Prophit has created a series of indexes based on Twitter chatter, with hopes of creating an ETF. Boston-based Dr Bhavneesh Sharma is turning his hand to finance, with his imminent launch of an Emerging Oncology index and a Rare Disease/Orphan Drug Index.

These entrepreneurs are not afraid to take a risk, but would you do the same? Here are a few wacky index ideas that will probably never see the light of day. But if they did...

Ticker: JUNK

An ETF that tracks the likes of McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and those pesky corn syrup companies. Obesity is on the rise worldwide (meaning this ETF could work both Stateside and elsewhere like Europe), so why not embrace your cynical nature and create an index of companies that manufacture junk food and fizzy drinks?

Ticker: TUCK

Plastic surgery is no longer spoken about in hushed tones, it's only getting more and more popular. An ETF to track an index of the most popular nip 'n tuck companies? Kylie Jenner's plastic fantastic lips are the product of lip fillers, which are manufactured by global blue-chip companies like Allergan. Zeltiq Aesthetics' CoolSculpting system promises to zap fat bulges – shareholders have enjoyed a year-to-date return of 14.91 percent and a one-year return of 19.80 percent.

Ticker: BEER

Beer is finally going mainstream, after years of being wine's poor cousin. I haven't the faintest clue about beer, having never drunk a pint in my life, but it seems to have been hit with the trendy stick. Beverage giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired rival SAB Miller to take almost 30 percent of the market share, but there are still other players like Carlsberg and a growing number of craft brewers. Probably one for dedicated beer lovers.



Ticker: KIMK

Kim Kardashian. Love her or hate her, the woman is hugely successful. Her earnings so far this year have almost doubled from 2014 to $53 million and she has 51.7 million followers on Instagram. You will probably never look like her, but would you invest in an index of companies that she had endorsed? Her influence is undeniable - her huge social media following speaks for itself. Burger chain Carl's JR, fashion store Topshop (owned by Arcadia) and OPI (owned by Coty) are just a few names Kim K has put her face to. But beware index turnover. It would have to be regularly rebalanced as she never seems to run out of endorsement deals.

Ticker: GUNS

Last but not least, this launch would certainly be controversial. We have gone nuts over alcohol, banks and tobacco, so why not guns?

Sadly, the right to bear arms is not going out of fashion, and is virtually enshrined in the U.S. constitution. As violence escalates, the pro-gun rally clamours for even more weapons, saying they are needed for self-defence. In fact, the U.S. manufactures more guns than ever before; gun-maker Smith & Wesson's YTD return is a whopping 85.96 percent. This ETF may well appeal to a very niche segment of investors, but admittedly it might face one obstacle too many opposite the growing number of socially responsible investing mandates.