An Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) is a mixed basket of investments, such as stocks, commodities and bonds, that is listed and traded on an exchange.
Because ETFs are made up of multiple assets, they provide greater diversification, and typically follow the ups and downs of an index. ETFs tend to trade close to their net asset value over the course of the trading day.
ETFs allow you to take exposures in the underlying assets of an ETF in a cost-effective manner without having direct exposures to the underlying assets.
ETFs have broad appeal for both personal and institutional investors for their flexibility, low risk and a number of other advantages:
An efficient way to diversify, covering most major asset classes and sectors. You get a broad selection without having to build your portfolio one security at a time.
ETFs are traded like stocks and offer the advantage of being liquid. You can buy or sell ETFs any time during trading hours and can also purchase on margin.
Relatively low management fees compared to traditional open-end funds.
A great tool to hedge against other asset classes like currencies or equities.
While many mutual funds enforce a minimum investment, you can get started with a small amount of capital.