ETFs and mutual funds

Differences between ETFs and Mutual Funds

Although investing may be a good way to beat inflation costs and gradually build wealth, the sheer number of investment vehicles out there can be enough to intimidate beginners. Out of the many choices, ETFs and mutual funds reign as two of the most popular picks.

It should be worth delving into the differences between the two modes of investment, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. As an investor, it’s not only important that you have a good understanding of the differences, you should also know which strategies better suit your unique situation. Here are a few things you should know about ETFs and mutual funds.

They are similar in some ways

So many new investors get mixed up between the two because they seem so interchangeable at first glance. While there’s a tendency to mention them in the same discussions, they are actually two very distinct investments. Similarities, however, may be due to them both being made up of dozens or hundreds of securities. Both may also fall under the same regulations depending on the assets they hold in their portfolios. Intrinsically, they are both managed quite differently with regards to how they are used in an investment portfolio.

What’s an ETF?

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) can be considered to be the more popular choice out of the two investment vehicles. Described simply as a type of security that tracks an index,bonds, commodities, currencies, or a combination of various asset classes, it’s a fund that’s passively managed and merely replicates an index. In addition, these funds don’t hold all the stocks equally because they are held by an underlying index. ETFs aren’t actively traded by a fund manager, but they are actively traded on the stock exchange and can be purchased or sold during the trading session.

What are mutual funds?

For the most part, mutual funds can be defined as investment schemes that compile money from various investors to put back into diversified holdings. These funds are professionally managed by experts, and investments are usually put into a wide range of securities (such as stocks, bonds, and debt instruments). The measurement of each scheme is set through a NAV (Net Asset Value) which is generally derived from the equal division of the total investment for the mutual fund. It is usually divided among the investors, and the amount is determined by how many investors there are.

ETFs and mutual funds

ETFs are better for instant investing

Both investment vehicles are diverse, less risky and tracked on indices, yet at the same time exchange-traded funds usually come with a lower barrier to entry, so it might be an appropriate choice for those looking to invest right away. According to Vanguard, an ETF can be bought for the cost of a single share which could range from between $50 to several hundred dollars.

On the other hand, mutual funds usually have some limits on amounts, (Vanguard’s mutual fund minimum is about $3000). Getting started can be quite nerve-wracking, so if you intend to get your feet wet with $50 instead of $3000, it’s probably best that you go with ETFs.

Purchasing and selling traits differ

It may be best that investors take note of how a particular vehicle is sold or purchased. Mutual funds usually transact once a day, with investors buying or selling shares at the same closing price. ETFs, however, are allowed to continue trading throughout the day on public exchanges. Buyers and sellers react to changes in the market quite frequently, which means that shares often move fast. ETFs may also come in handy in this regard.

There’s a difference in efficiency

ETFs own underlying assets, dividing ownership into shares. Because of this, shares are usually bought and sold on a major exchange. In addition, the flexibility of the investment is reinforced because they can be traded intraday. This lets investors trade them online. An ETF shareholder can also earn dividends and if the fund is liquidated, investors can receive a portion of its residual value (the value determined at the end of an asset’s life). Mutual funds’ shares are purchased and sold directly through the mutual fund company. This means that the actions of other fund investors could quickly affect the individual investor’s tax liability.

Passive and active management

Because ETFs are generally able to track indexes, they can be passively-managed which essentially means lower costs compared to mutual funds, which are actively managed. This means that mutual funds carry great operating costs over time, with research specialists and analysts included in the costing.

There are differences between ETFs and mutual funds that some investors forget to take notice of. As you can imagine, you may have to take a number of variables into consideration if you want to invest wisely, practice good wealth management and growth your wealth gradually. Take note of these points and navigate your way towards the best strategic choice that suits your requirements.


Hampton Wealth specialises in sourcing high quality, listed bonds and funds with a focus on providing returns in excess of normal off the shelf investment options.

Find out more at HamptonWealth.com

Share this post

Comment (1)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *