What is an ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund)? | Udariyan


Exchange-Traded Funds. What is an ETF?

An ETF, or an exchange-traded fund, is a diversification tool that investors (What is an etf) use to spread their portfolios. ETFs are structured in such a way to highlight specific segments of the market, often indices like the S&P 500 or the NASDAQ 100. Because of this feature and because they’re traded on stock exchanges just like stocks, investors see them as cost-effective alternatives to normal mutual funds which generally contain stocks and bonds.

How do ETFs work?

Exchange-Traded Funds (also known as ETFs) tend to represent a segment of the financial market tracking and follow that segment’s price movement by making actual investments in the underlying assets. An ETF will do this by purchasing the securities that make up the market segment it is following. For example, you could have an ETF that represents the FTSE 100. The FTSE 100 is made up of shares of stocks belonging to companies ranging (What is an etf) from small businesses to majority-owned public British corporations. To create such a matching index, the fund will usually buy the share in each selected company and thus track their total contribution within the index itself.

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However, there are also active exchange-traded funds where management, rather than this pre-existing index, select which securities should be purchased and sold by actively trading these assets overtime. These are referred to (What is an etf) in abbreviated form as ‘actively managed’.

How are ETFs created?

To create an ETF, a fund provider will first need to gain approval from the relevant stock exchange and regulator. For example, when launching on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), a provider would require approval from the LSE and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This is achieved via a process known as “creation/redemption”.

ETF Creation process

Once a company that builds ETFs has decided on the markets it wants to focus on, it will have to secure an Authorized Participant (AP) such as a large institutional investor such as some kind of investment bank or asset manager. If the AP then likes the idea it can purchase all the underlying assets that make up the market segment and then auction those shares off to retail and institutional investors in exchange for cash.

ETF Redemption process

This is essentially the reverse of the creation process. An Authorized Participant (AP) can offer to buy up some ETF shares on a stock exchange and then trade them back to the ETF provider. In exchange, the AP would receive the underlying assets that comprise an index fund in equal amounts as the net asset value of the ETF shares it had traded. Creation/redemption mechanisms are important features that keep market values of ETF shares inline with their net asset value.

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As you can see, they’re used specifically when dealing with ETFs that act like mutual funds by using cash to purchase their underlying assets more regularly than just once per day, the total amount of money invested divided by the number of fund components more in line with how much cashers are putting into them throughout each day.

Types of ETFs

 There are a number of different types of exchange-traded funds. These include:

Index ETFs

An index ETF is a financial instrument, created by an asset manager, that allows investors to have the feeling they are a part of the real-life economy. This means there is someone who will play the role of a banker and choose which assets have more or less value. The ETF collects a sample of the right investable choices but instead of putting them in one bank it puts them in many different banks safe and sound all over the place.

Bond ETFs

The biggest difference between a bond and an ETF is that the former has a set maturity date (date on which it will stop paying interest), while the latter does not as it is continuously replenished with new assets as some of the existing bonds mature.

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Commodity ETFs

There are a few different commodity exchange-traded fund (ETF) products available and many of them will track (What is an etf) the same indices, but look among the variations that have different weightings overtime to find the one most suitable for your risk appetite.

Currency ETFs

When investors trade in currency ETFs they either make or lose money based on the relative strength of a single currency or broad-based emerging markets. These instruments can be used as both.

Advantages and Disadvantages of ETFs

  • Access to many stocks across various industries

  • Low expense ratios and fewer broker commissions

  • Risk management through diversification

  • ETFs exist that focus on targeted industries

  • Actively managed ETFs have higher fees

  • Single-industry-focused ETFs limit diversification

  • Lack of liquidity hinders transactions

ETFs vs. Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

 Exchange-Traded Funds Mutual Funds Stocks
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a type of index funds that track a basket of securities. Mutual funds are pooled investments into bonds, securities, and other instruments that provide returns. Stocks are securities that provide returns based on performance.
ETF prices can trade at a premium or at a loss to the net asset value (NAV) of the fund. Mutual fund prices trade at the net asset value of the overall fund. Stock returns are based on their actual performance in the markets.
ETFs are traded in the markets during regular hours just like stocks are. Mutual funds can be redeemed only at the end of a trading day. Stocks are traded during regular market hours.
Some ETFs can be purchased commission-free and are cheaper than mutual funds because they do not charge marketing fees. Some mutual funds do not charge load fees, but most are more expensive than ETFs because they charge administrative and marketing fees. Stocks can be purchased commission-free on some platforms and generally do not have charges associated with them after purchase.
ETFs do not involve actual ownership of securities. Mutual funds own the securities in their basket. Stocks involve physical ownership of the security.
ETFs diversify risk by tracking different companies in a sector or industry in a single fund. Mutual funds diversify risk by creating a portfolio that spans multiple asset classes and security instruments. Risk is concentrated in a stock’s performance.
ETF trading occurs in-kind, meaning they cannot be redeemed for cash. Mutual fund shares can be redeemed for money at the fund’s net asset value for that day. Stocks are bought and sold using cash.
Because ETF share exchanges are treated as in-kind distributions, ETFs are the most tax-efficient among all three types of financial instruments. Mutual funds offer tax benefits when they return capital or include certain types of tax-exempt bonds in their portfolio. Stocks are taxed at either ordinary income tax rates or capital gains rates.


There are a few reasons why some investors use exchange-traded funds. One of the most important is to manage risk. It may also help to lower your risk and exposure, as well as diversify your portfolio. By utilizing an ETF, you can invest in multiple assets within one product.

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