WTF is a Spyder [S&P 500] Fund on Scottrade

I advised my buddy that his money in equities should be in S&P 500 index funds.
He uses Scottrade for investments.
I tried to find the product there that lines up with my notion of an S&P 500 index fund, like the ones that used to be in my old Vanguard and Fidelity 401K plans at my old jobs.
Can’t find them anywhere.
Am I being dense?
Does Scottrade not put those plans in its list?

Spyder (ticker symbol SPY) is an exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500 so that it’s current stock value is 1/10 of the S&P 500 index. So if you buy that, it’s just like you’re buying a more conventional index fund.

“Exchange-Traded” means that you can essentially treat this fund as if it is a single stock, so it’s probably listed in the stocks section rather than the mutual fund section. I don’t know how Scottrade is set up that way though.

I use etrade, which has a handy ETF screener tool that can be used to find the right ETF–the one I use for the S&P 500 is IVV or IJR or something (I can’t be arsed to look it up right now). I’d imagine scottrade has a similar ETF screener.

One thing to note on this, is that for S&P 500 index ETFs, there is really only one relevant parameter – The expense ratio. Your return is set, and you just need to find the one that charges you the least overhead for that return.

Orthogonally, I’m also a fan of Barclay’s iShares, which are similar concepts for different countries and sectors. I use EWC as my standard index fund for The Motherland.

Scottrade does have a screening tool. Click the Quotes and Research tab. The menu on the left has ETFs and screening tools.

Some index ETFs may be different in how closely they follow their particular index. One ETF that I own says in its notes that at least 80% of the assets invested follow the index (not the S&P, though; it’s a bond index). Thus, the ETF’s performance might be a little different from the index itself.

Here is information about the SPY, commonly called the SPDR. Many other ETF companies will have funds which track other large cap indices.