With the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) down 3.9% so far in the past month, and virtually flat for the year, it can be hard for investors to decide where to invest their funds.

The big four banks are hardly inspiring much confidence, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (ASX: CBA) share price sinking more than 15% so far in 2016, and other banks down between 3% and 11%.

Other usual large cap go-to stocks like Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) and Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) are faring much better – although the former is up 5% for the year.

If investors are regularly putting money into the stockmarket though, that might not be a concern. In fact, the recent falls could be an opportunity to gain exposure to some diversified assets like exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Here are three that might be interesting…

Vanguard US Total Market Shares Index (ASX: VTS)

Referred to as VUSTotal CDI 1:1 (ASX: VTS) by Google Finance, this index fund tracks the performance of the CRSP US Total Market Index and since inception in 2009 has returned 15.6% compared to the Benchmark’s 15.55% annually. What makes this a great investment is that it gives investors instant access to some of the largest and best companies in the world like Alphabet (parent of Google), Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, GE, Berkshire Hathaway, AT&T etc. and also charges a minimal management fee of just 0.05%.

Vanguard All-World Ex-US Shares Index (ASX: VEU)

Referred to as VWORLDXUS CDI 1:1 (ASX: VEU) by Google Finance, this ETF gives investors access to the best of Europe, Asia and Africa’s companies (outside the US) for a small fee of 0.13%. some of the companies in this ETF include Nestle, Shell, Novartis, Roche Holding, Toyota, Samsung and HSBC. Since inception in 2009, this ETF has returned 7.06% per annum matching the underlying index.

iShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF (ASX: IOZ)

Called the iShares MSCI Australia 200 Index Fund (ASX: IOZ) by Google Finance, this ETF gives investors access to the Top 200 stocks on the ASX and has matched the performance of the benchmark since inception in 2010. A management fee of just 0.15% makes large-cap fund managers’ fees of 2% (to virtually track this index) look absurd too.

Foolish takeaway

Investing in those three index funds provides investors with a wide exposure to global equities markets, offering downside protection from a recession in Australia as well as instant diversification. They might be boring, but investors are highly unlikely to see a complete loss of capital.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Vanguard US Total Market Index and the Vanguard All-World Ex-US Shares Index. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.