Advantages and disadvantages of exchange traded funds

Exchange traded funds provide lower average costs as it is expensive to invest in the ETF portfolio individually. Investors must execute a transaction to buy and sell. Brokers generally charge a commission for each trade. Some brokers even offer no-trade trading on certain low-cost ETFs, further reducing costs for investors.

The expense ratio of a listed fund is the cost to operate and manage the fund. ETFs generally have low expenses as they track a stock index. For example, if an ETF tracks the S&P 500, it could contain all 500 S&P stocks, making it a less time-consuming and passively managed fund. However, not all ETFs track an index passively.

Among the advantages of exchange-traded funds, the following stand out:

  • Diversification: While it’s easy to think of diversification in the sense of broad vertical markets (stocks, bonds, or particular commodities, for example), ETFs also allow investors to diversify across horizontals, such as industries.
  • Transparency: Anyone with internet access can look up the price of a particular ETF. In addition, the holdings of a fund are disclosed publicly, so that at any time you can decide whether to invest in exchange-traded funds or not.
  • Tax benefits: Investors generally pay taxes only on the investment that is made, while mutual funds pay taxes on the course of the investment.

But this type of fund not only has advantages, but also has some disadvantages:

  • Trading Costs: ETF costs can incur additional expenses. Because ETFs are traded on an exchange, they may be subject to commissions from online brokers. Many of these have decided to reduce their ETF commissions to zero, but not all have.
  • Any buyer for the ETF? As with any security, the value of the exchange-traded fund should be on the rise when you want to sell. However, ETFs that are not traded as often can be the most difficult to place when it comes to selling them.
  • Risk of ETF closing: The main reason for this is that a fund has not brought in enough assets to cover administrative costs. The biggest drawback of a closed ETF is that investors have to sell ahead of schedule, and this could potentially lead to significant losses. There is also the possibility of reinvesting money and the possibility of receiving an unexpected tax burden.