I would personally recommend stocks.
The problem with EFTs is they are not very transparent. You have to trust that the sponser is doing what he says he is doing, rather than playing with derivatives in the back room. A sophisticated financial institution might try to run an EFT without actually purchasing the underlying securities, or try to make money by trading against the EFT.
A index mutual fund is probably best for the investor who knows nothing, but they are not as neutral as they are cracked up to be. The weighting of the stocks are based on market cap. This means that if millions of investors think Facebook is worth 200 times earnings, the index fund will contain a lot more shares of Facebook relative to earnings than it would of stock that investors shun, such as Intel.
I am more inclined to buy Intel at 9 times trailing earnings and a 4.2% dividends, and stay away from Facebook.
Weapons, ammo, food and a big still.
If a company does not contribute to the 401K, and more and more don’t, then it is not a benefit to the employee to offer one. They may as well save the expense and get rid of it and maybe offer employees advice on setting up their own IRAs.
I use my self-directed IRA and use both instruments. I have a number of “solid” companies paying 3-4% dividends and a few leveraged ETF’s that I admittedly gamble a bit with. Lately, the ETF’s have done well for me (e.g., NUGT is a leveraged gold fund I play) but you do need to pay attention to them more than regular stocks. Also, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s) have more risk than regular stocks but SEC rules force them to pay out 90% of their earning in dividends. Two Harbors (TWO) for example, is currently paying 18.8% dividend. It pays to shop around.