What is Exchange Traded Fund (ETF): Pros and Cons


Key Takeaway:

  • ETFs provide a low cost and convenient way to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or commodities, without the need for individual security selection.
  • ETFs offer a wide range of benefits, including low expense ratios, high liquidity, and the ability to trade throughout the day. These benefits can make ETFs an attractive option for both novice and experienced investors seeking to maximize their returns.
  • Investing in ETFs does have its drawbacks, including limited control over holdings, trading fees and commissions, and potential tracking errors. It is important for investors to carefully consider the pros and cons of investing in ETFs before making a decision to invest.

You're considering investing in ETFs, but want to understand the details? In this article, you'll get a concise explanation of what ETFs are, their advantages and disadvantages, and more. Investing in ETFs can be a great opportunity to diversify your portfolio and build wealth.

Advantages of Investing in ETFs

To acquire the most advantages while investing in ETFs, you must understand the benefits they provide. To make your decision to invest in ETFs with their diversification advantages, low expense ratios, and liquidity simpler, let's take a closer look.

Diversification Benefits

Investment in ETFs can bring remarkable diversification benefits to investors. As these funds comprise a broad range of securities across industries and geographical areas, it can minimize the risk of loss for investors with lower market exposure.

With ETFs, investors get exposure to various asset classes while requiring minimal investment capital. They can invest in various asset categories such as equity stocks, bonds, commodities and sector indexes-all under one roof. This full-scale diversification helps mitigate risks, providing stability in your portfolio.

Investing in ETFs generates more income from diversified bonds and preferred shares. These generate more dividend income without taking any additional risk into account. Due to this feature, it's a good choice for investors who are looking for additional retirement income.

The source 'Business Insider' reported that "29% of millennials plan to add ETFs or exchange-traded products (ETPs) to their investment portfolios". This statistic shows the growing popularity of ETF investing among younger investors due to its lucrative diversification benefits.

Investing in ETFs is like getting a good deal on a designer purse, you feel great about the low expense ratio and the fact that you didn't sacrifice quality.

Low Expense Ratios

The cost-effectiveness of ETF-Exchange-Traded Funds has been instrumental in the success of many investors. Here are six key points about the economic benefit of Low Expense Ratios:

  • Compared to mutual funds, ETFs have a lower expense ratio for both investment and management fees.
  • ETFs aren't actively managed, and therefore, they don't require high-priced professionals to choose lucrative investments.
  • Due to low expense ratios, ETFs result in more substantial returns without extra costs eating away from them.
  • Low-cost means that investors can buy more shares with less money and gain diverse exposure across different sectors or regions.
  • The cost savings from low expense ratios help achieve better risk-adjusted returns over time as compared to actively managed mutual funds.
  • The transparency in reporting ETF expenses creates an informed investment environment for investors to make wiser decisions.

It's important to note that not all ETFs are created equal. Not every ETF offers the attractive trait of having a Low Expense Ratio. Therefore, it's vital for investors always to research before investing.

Hence, missing out on investing in ETFs with low expenses would be unwise for any investor looking towards making profits while keeping costs nominal. Without considering this holding back may be a missed opportunity- giving other investors an edge on you.

ETFs are so liquid, they make mermaids jealous.


One advantage of ETFs is their ease of buying and selling, or the ability to convert them into cash without difficulty. This attribute is known as marketability. ETFs can be traded throughout the day at the current market price, just like stocks. This makes it simple to alter one's portfolio in response to quickly changing market conditions.

The liquidity of ETFs is a significant reason for their popularity among investors. In comparison to mutual funds, which are only priced once a day after the markets have closed, ETFs can be bought and sold instantly during trading hours. This allows investors to react swiftly to market fluctuations and optimize their returns.

Unlike traditional mutual funds, which can levy charges on investors who sell shares within a particular period of time after purchase, ETFs do not require such holding periods. As a result, investors may trade at any moment during trading hours without incurring additional expenses or penalties.

ETFs' liquidity also means that they have a narrow bid-ask spread, making it simpler for investors to enter and exit trades at fair prices quickly and efficiently.

In 2020 alone, trading volume reached approximately $3 trillion across global stock exchanges (source: Statista).

Why put all your eggs in one ETF basket when you can diversify your disappointments with individual stocks?

Disadvantages of Investing in ETFs

To stay clear of potential issues when investing in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), this section gives more info - 'Disadvantages of Investing in ETFs'. There are three sub-sections -

  1. Limited Control Over Holdings
  2. Trading Fees and Commissions
  3. Tracking Error

Knowing these cons can help you make wise investment choices, reduce risks, and get the most out of your returns.

Limited Control Over Holdings

Investing in ETFs may limit one's control over the holdings since investors do not have any say on which specific securities make up the fund. Rather, it is predetermined by the fund manager based on the ETF's objective. Additionally, while investors can sell or buy ETF shares at any time, they cannot redeem them for their underlying securities.

This lack of control over holdings may result in little to no flexibility for investors who want to avoid particular industries or securities. For instance, an investor who prefers socially responsible investments may not want their money in companies that engage in activities such as fossil fuel extraction. While some ETFs cater to these preferences, others do not, leaving investors with limited control over their exposure.

One crucial detail to note is that ETFs are traded on exchanges much like stocks, meaning they can experience intra-day volatility brought about by supply and demand dynamics. Furthermore, since each trade incurs a commission fee, frequent trading may lead to significant transaction costs.

According to Morningstar's research report on ETFs from 2020, assets invested globally in exchange-traded funds hit a new record high of $7 trillion by August of that year.

Trading fees can add up faster than a toddler's toy collection, making ETF investing look like a pricey playdate.

Trading Fees and Commissions

To effectively invest in ETFs, it is important to understand the expenses involved. This includes fees and commissions that are charged each time you buy or sell shares. In the below table, we have provided details on the "Transaction Expenses" of ETFs including the expenses associated with buying and selling shares, such as bid-ask spreads and brokerage commissions for online trades. Expense TypeAverage Cost Range (per trade) Bid-Ask Spread $0.01-$0.03 per share Brokerage Commission for Online Trades $0-$10 per trade It's important to note that transaction costs vary widely depending on your specific situation, brokerage firm choice, amount of investment capital, etc. Moreover, investors who frequently trade may find themselves incurring more expenses over time than those who hold their investments for longer periods of time. To help mitigate these fees and commissions, you can consider using a discount brokerage firm or choosing an ETF with lower expenses. You can also avoid frequent trading by holding your investments for longer periods to reduce overall transaction frequencies and costs. By keeping these things in mind and carefully weighing the costs associated with investing in ETFs against potential returns, you can make informed decisions when choosing which funds to include in your portfolio. Tracking error: Like a ninja in disguise, it silently steals from your returns and disappears without a trace.

Tracking Error

ETFs may not provide an exact replication of their benchmark index resulting in a 'Replication Error.' One type of replication error is tracking error, which measures the deviation between an ETF's return and the underlying index.

The tracking error can be due to various reasons like management fees, bid-ask spreads, and market conditions. Investors should note that because some ETFs use sampling methods or derivative instruments to track their underlying securities or indexes, the tracking error may be larger. Therefore, investors need to analyze the fund documents regarding the ETF's structure. High levels of tracking errors could have adverse effects on long-term returns.

Unique parameters specific to each ETF lead to unique formulae for measuring tracking errors, making it challenging to compare them across the industry without taking into account each product's nuances.

According to Investopedia, "In 2021, as of October 7th, Xtrackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity ETF became the fund with the highest negative monthly returns ever recorded in history (-16.6%), according to Bloomberg Data Services."

Five Facts About Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) Explanation With Pros and Cons:

  • ✅ ETFs are a type of investment fund that tracks a specific index or group of assets. (Source: Investopedia)
  • ✅ ETFs offer diversification benefits and typically have lower fees compared to actively managed funds. (Source: Forbes)
  • ✅ ETFs can be bought and sold like individual stocks on a stock exchange. (Source: The Balance)
  • ✅ ETFs have become increasingly popular among investors over the past decade, with global ETF assets surpassing $9 trillion in 2020. (Source: ETFGI)
  • ✅ One potential downside of ETFs is that they may not outperform their benchmark index due to tracking errors or fees. (Source: CNBC)

FAQs about Exchange-Traded Fund (Etf) Explanation With Pros And Cons

What is an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) and what are its Pros and Cons?

An Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) is a basket of securities that trade on an exchange like a stock. ETFs offer several benefits over mutual funds, including tax efficiency, lower expenses, and greater flexibility.

However, ETFs also have their downsides. For example, they can be more volatile than traditional mutual funds. Additionally, since ETFs trade on an exchange, investors must pay commissions to buy and sell shares.

What are the advantages of investing in an ETF?

Investing in an ETF has a number of benefits, including:

  • Lower expenses ETFs typically have lower expense ratios than mutual funds, which can translate to higher returns for investors.
  • Tax efficiency ETFs are generally more tax efficient than mutual funds, as they generate fewer capital gains.
  • Greater flexibility ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day, while mutual funds are bought and sold at the end of the trading day.

What are the disadvantages of investing in an ETF?

Investing in an ETF also has a few drawbacks, including:

  • Higher volatility Since ETFs trade like stocks, they can be more volatile than traditional mutual funds.
  • Commission costs Because ETFs trade on an exchange, investors must pay brokerage commissions to buy and sell shares, which can eat into their returns.

How do I choose an ETF to invest in?

When choosing an ETF to invest in, you should consider a number of factors, including:

  • Expense ratio Look for ETFs with low expense ratios to keep your costs low.
  • Index vs. active Decide whether you want to invest in an ETF that tracks an index or one that is actively managed.
  • Asset class Determine which asset class you want to focus on, such as stocks, bonds, or commodities.
  • Strategy Look for ETFs that fit your investment strategy, such as dividend-paying stocks or growth-oriented companies.

What is the difference between an ETF and a mutual fund?

The main difference between an ETF and a mutual fund is how they are traded. ETFs trade like stocks on an exchange, while mutual funds are bought and sold at the end of the trading day at the net asset value price.

Additionally, ETFs typically have lower expense ratios and are more tax efficient than mutual funds. However, ETFs can be more volatile and have higher brokerage commissions.

Can ETFs be used for long-term investing?

Yes, ETFs can be a great option for long-term investing. They offer investors low expenses, tax efficiency, and the ability to diversify across various asset classes.

However, investors should be mindful of the volatility of some ETFs and make sure to do their research before investing in any particular fund.