If you are looking for flexible investment vehicles that you manipulate within your portfolio such as stocks, bonds, futures you should pay close attention to ETF’s.
By definition ETF stands for exchange traded fund, an ETF holds assets such as bonds and stocks and its net worth is equivalent to that of the negotiable instrument it holds; an ETF can also be thought of as an investment portfolio that holds stocks and bonds or other negotiable instruments that are traded on a stock exchange which is very similar to the way that stocks are traded.
The main difference between stocks and ETF’s (besides that an ETF is a portfolio of bonds or stocks) is that an exchange traded fund tracks and index hence the reason why they’re called index funds.
There are many indexes that can be tracked through ETF’s, an investor may choose to track and index for it to Dow Jones, NASDAQ, a specific industry such as the manufacturing industry where they may choose to track and index of an emerging market, these markets can be in different countries so much like stocks and investor can also buy an ETF which tracks a particular index of an industry which thrives in different countries across the world.
The whole ETF concept has been around for about 15 years and the first to hit the market did it in 1993 and was better known as “spiders” — ETF symbol was SPDRs, this ETF in particular tracked the Standard and Poor’s 500 index of large-company stocks. During the early 1990s when there is investment vehicle was introduced to the market the most popular type of ETF’s were those which track the index of the technology sector because of obvious reasons, today there is a huge variety of ETF’s that operate in different countries and it can be said that the amount of ETF’s its equivalent to the number of industries that are being traded in the stock exchange.
Benefits of ETFs
One of the most obvious benefits when it comes to ETF’s is their low operating costs; let’s illustrate this point, the Vanguard total Stock market VIPER which is an ETF that tracks the index for the entire US stock market carries an annual operating cost of 0.07% of the total assets, that is equivalent of saying that a ,000 investment would have an annual operating fee of seven dollars.
Another great benefit of dealing with an ETF is that such trading vehicle is structured for tax efficiency this is because an ETF itself doesn’t have to buy or sell securities so this means that there are not any taxable gains to be passed on. And ETF can generate taxable gains but, an exchange traded fund is often sold as a stock will be sold in the stock market, they are not redeemed by the holders so in order for an investor to realize capital gains he would have to sell the shares or trade the ETF in order to reflect changes in the underlying index.
Last (but not least) ETFs are very flexible when they are compared against other investment instrument such as mutual funds, in other words a mutual fund is often priced once and this usually happens at the end of the trading day, ETFs on the other hand can be bought or sold exactly as you would with stocks and similarly to stocks you could also buy on margin (using other people’s money) and you can also sell short when the market conditions are appropriate.