What Are ETFs? We Explain Here

One of the most significant and profitable products developed for individual investors in recent years is exchange-traded funds. ETFs have a lot to offer and, when utilised appropriately, are a great way for investors to reach their financial objectives.

In a nutshell, an ETF is a collection of securities that you can purchase or sell on a stock exchange through a brokerage company.

Almost any asset class imaginable, including traditional investments and so-called alternative assets like commodities or currencies, is available as an ETF. Innovative ETF structures also give investors access to leverage, market shorting, and tax-free short-term capital gains.

ETFs made a comeback in 1993 with the launch of the SPY, or “Spiders,” product, which went on to become the largest volume ETF in history after a few false starts.

Nearly 3,000 ETF products are expected to be traded on US stock exchanges in 2022, with ETFs valued at 6.64 trillion dollars.

How ETFs operate

When the stock exchanges are open during the day, an ETF can be purchased and traded much like a stock of a corporation. An ETF has a ticker symbol, just like a stock, and intraday price data can be easily accessed throughout the trading day.

Due to the ongoing issuance of new shares and the redemption of existing shares, ETFs’ share count can fluctuate daily, unlike corporate stocks.

The market price of ETFs is maintained in line with the value of their underlying securities by the ability of an ETF to continuously issue and redeem shares.

Despite being geared toward retail investors, institutional investors play a crucial part in preserving the ETF’s liquidity and tracking accuracy by buying and selling creation units, which are sizable blocks of ETF shares that may be swapped for baskets of the underlying securities.

Institutions use the arbitrage mechanism provided by creation units to bring the ETF price back into compliance with the underlying asset value when it diverges from the price of the underlying asset.