ETFs and Mutual Funds: An Overview

There are fundamental differences between mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that investors should be aware of before choosing which one will work best for their financial goals. Each type of fund has its own advantages and disadvantages. More importantly, mutual funds and ETFs can be used together to create a diversified portfolio.

Key Findings

When you buy a mutual fund, you pay the net asset value (NAV) of the shares in the fund, but when you buy an ETF, you pay the market. price.

ETFs typically have lower expense ratios than most mutual funds, which can give an investor a slight return advantage over index funds.

Mutual funds can be either passively managed or actively managed, while most ETFs are passively managed.

A portfolio of both mutual funds and ETFs can offer you more variety and further mitigate the risks that naturally come with investing.

Exchange-traded funds

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) can be traded throughout the day, so you can see the value of your ETF fluctuate as you trade. When you buy an ETF, you are buying it at the current market price. You can buy one or as many shares as you can afford at the current price.

ETFs typically have lower expense ratios than most mutual funds. Theoretically, this could provide the investor with a slight yield advantage over index funds. For example, the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) expense ratio is 0.03%, while the Admiral Shares (VFIAX) version of the mutual fund has an expense ratio of 0.04%, although both funds have almost the same returns,

ETFs are a new version of funds designed to democratize access to investment through lower fees than mutual funds. Fractional investment fund shares also allow investors to buy a portion of an ETF rather than a whole unit.

Make sure you have a full range of stocks from different industries that match your risk tolerance and goals.

Mutual funds

You can buy a mutual fund at any time of the day, but fund managers cannot make transactions within the fund until the end of the day. The price at which you buy or sell a mutual fund is not the price, but the net asset value (NAV) of the shares that make up the fund. When you invest in your mutual fund, your money is used to trade the fund's NAV at the end of the trading day.

For example, mutual funds typically have a minimum buy-in of, say, $3,000. So if a stock is worth $100, you are buying 30 shares.

Mutual funds can be either passively or actively managed, while there are very few actively managed ETFs. ETFs tend to be passively managed, which makes them most similar to index mutual funds.

Most brokers do not allow you to set automatic payments on ETFs as they trade differently.

Mutual funds usually allow you to set up automatic investing because you give them a dollar amount that buys a certain number of shares.

Special Considerations

Both mutual funds and ETFs allow you to purchase a basket of securities in a single purchase. They both typically invest for a stated or implied purpose such as growth, value, or income. In addition, they usually invest in a specific category of stocks or bonds, such as large company stocks, foreign stocks, or medium-term bonds.

ETFs are a newer version of funds designed to democratize access to investment through lower ETF prices and fees than mutual funds. A recent fractionation phenomenon made possible by technology now allows you to buy a fraction of an ETF instead of a whole unit at the same price as a stock.

You can use mutual funds and ETFs to diversify your portfolio. However, you can also use both of them to complement each other. For example, some investors prefer to use ETFs for industry funds and mutual funds for actively managed ones.

Index-based ETFs are usually cheaper, so you can buy them if you are on a tight budget. For example, the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) price was around $407 on August 10, 2021, while the Admiral Shares Mutual Fund (VFIAX) version of the same index has a floor price of $3,000.

Which is better - ETF or mutual fund?

You can achieve variety by using one or the other. A portfolio of both funds can offer you even more variety and further mitigate the risks that naturally come with investing. In addition, mutual funds and ETFs offer different prices, costs, and ways to make your money grow.

Which ETF does Warren Buffett recommend?

Some ETFs track the S&P 500 Index, such as the S&P 500 SPDR (SPY) or the iShares Core S&P 500 Index (IVV).

Why are mutual funds bad?

The negative aspects of mutual funds include higher expense ratios and various (sometimes hidden) back or front loading fees.

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