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A Beginner’s Guide to Exchange Traded Fund or ETF

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An Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is a type of investment fund and marketable security that holds assets such as stocks, bonds, or commodities. It is designed to track the value of an underlying asset or index. ETFs are traded on stock exchanges, similar to individual stocks, allowing investors to buy and sell them throughout the trading day at market prices.

Understanding Exchange Traded Funds

Exchange Traded Funds are like a basket of multiple underlying assets, including stocks, bonds, or commodities. They are traded on exchanges, making them easily buyable and sellable, like stocks. The value of an ETF’s shares will change throughout the trading day as they are bought and sold on the market.


This is different from mutual funds, which are not traded on an exchange and are traded only once per day after the markets close. Exchange Traded Funds are more cost-effective and more liquid compared to mutual funds.

Types of Exchange Traded Funds

  • Passive and Active ETFs: Passive ETFs replicate the performance of a broader index, while actively managed ETFs have portfolio managers making decisions about which securities to include.
  • Bond ETFs: These provide regular income to investors based on the performance of underlying bonds.
  • Stock ETFs: These comprise a basket of stocks to track a single industry or sector.
  • Industry/Sector ETFs: These focus on a specific sector or industry.
  • Commodity ETFs: These invest in commodities, including crude oil or gold.
  • Currency ETFs: These track the performance of currency pairs.
  • Inverse ETFs: These attempt to earn gains from stock declines by shorting stocks.
  • Leveraged ETFs: These seek to return some multiples on the return of the underlying investments.

Example: Nifty Bees

Nifty Bees is an example of an Exchange Traded Fund that is designed to provide returns that closely correspond to the total returns of securities as represented by the Nifty Index. It is traded on the exchange, and it allows investors to invest in the performance of the Nifty Index.

How to Buy Exchange Traded Funds

Investing in Exchange Traded Funds has become fairly easy with various available online investing platforms and apps. After choosing a platform, the next step is researching the available ETFs to find the ones that align with the investor’s goals and preferences. Considering a trading strategy is also crucial, especially for beginners. Dollar-cost averaging is a recommended strategy as it smooths out returns over time and ensures a disciplined approach to investing.

Advantages and Disadvantages

ETFs offer several advantages, such as access to many stocks across various industries, low expense ratios, fewer broker commissions, and risk management through diversification. However, they also have disadvantages, including higher fees for actively managed ETFs, limited diversification for single-industry-focused ETFs, and lack of liquidity for some ETFs.

Actively Managed ETFs

Actively managed ETFs involve more involvement from portfolio managers in deciding the holdings within the fund. They usually have a higher expense ratio compared to passively managed Exchange Traded Funds due to the active management involved.

Special Considerations

  • Indexed-Stock ETFs: Provide diversification and the ability to sell short, buy on margin, and purchase as little as one share.
  • Dividends and ETFs: Investors also benefit from companies that pay dividends.
  • ETFs and Taxes: ETFs are more tax-efficient compared to mutual funds.
  • ETFs’ Market Impact: The popularity of ETFs has raised concerns about their influence on the market and whether they can inflate stock values and create fragile bubbles.


Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs are a versatile and accessible investment option that allows investors to gain exposure to different assets, sectors, and strategies. They offer a balance between diversification and accessibility, making them a suitable investment option for both novice and experienced investors. However, it’s crucial for investors to research and consider the type of ETFs that align with their investment goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.



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