Advantages of ETFs

While many investors have similar outlooks, no two are exactly alike. Due to the unique structure of ETFs, all types of investors, whether retail or institutional, long-term or short-term, can use it to their advantage without being at a disadvantage to others. They allow long-term investors to diversify their portfolio at one shot at low cost and insulate them from short-term trading activity due to the unique "in-kind" creation / redemption process. They provide liquidity for investors with a shorter-term horizon as they can trade intra-day and can have quotes near NAV during the course of trading day. As initial investment is low, retail investors find it simple and convenient to buy / sell. They facilitate FIIs, Institutions and Mutual Funds to have easy asset allocation, hedging, equitising cash at a low cost. They enable arbitrageurs to carry out arbitrage between the Cash and the Futures markets at low impact cost.

ETFs provide exposure to an index or a basket of securities that trade on the exchange like a single stock. They offer a number of advantages over traditional open-ended index funds as follows:

  • While redemptions of Index fund units takes place at a fixed NAV price (usually end of day), ETFs offer the convenience of intra-day purchase and sale on the Exchange, to take advantage of the prevailing price, which is close to the actual NAV of the scheme at any point in time.
  • They provide investors a fund that closely tracks the performance of an index throughout the day with the ability to buy/sell at any time, whereby trading opportunities that arise during a day may be better utilized.
  • They are low cost.
  • Unlike listed closed-ended funds, which trade at substantial premia or more frequently at discounts to NAV, ETFs are structured in a manner which allows Authorized Participants and Large Institutions to create new units and redeem outstanding units directly with the fund, thereby ensuring that ETFs trade close to their actual NAVs.
  • ETFs are like any other index fund, wherein, subscription / redemption of units work on the concept of exchange with underlying securities instead of cash (for large deals).
  • Since an ETF is listed on an Exchange, costs of distribution are much lower and the reach is wider. These savings in cost are passed on to the investors in the form of lower costs. Further, the structure helps reduce collection, disbursement and other processing charges.
  • ETFs protect long-term investors from inflows and outflows of short-term investors. This is because the fund does not incur extra transaction cost for buying/selling the index shares due to frequent subscriptions and redemptions.
  • Tracking error, which is divergence between the NAV of the ETF and the underlying Index, is generally observed to be low as compared to a normal index fund due to lower expenses and the unique in-kind creation / redemption process.
  • ETFs are highly flexible and can be used as a tool for gaining instant exposure to the equity markets, equitising cash or for arbitraging between the cash and futures market.

The first ETF in India, "Nifty BeEs (Nifty Benchmark Exchange Traded Scheme) based on S&P CNX Nifty, was launched in January 2002 by Benchmark Mutual Fund. It may be bought and sold like any other stock on NSE. Its symbol on NSE is "NIFTYBEES".

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