ETF Vs Mutual Fund: What Are The Key Differences?

ETF Vs Mutual Fund: What Are The Key Differences?


Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds have many things in common. Both these fund types are a mix of multiple assets and are a representation of a famous way for investor diversification. While mutual ETF Vs Mutual Fund are quite identical in nature, they have certain key differences. The most significant difference between them is that ETFs may be traded during the day, just like stocks. However, you may only purchase mutual funds at the end of the trading day, depending on the calculated price, which is called the net asset value.

Mutual funds are in their present state and have been around for more than a century. The very first mutual fund was launched back in 1924. Exchange-traded funds are more like the newer entrants in the investing arena. The first ETF was launched in January 1993.

In previous years, most of the mutual funds were managed actively, which means fund managers were the ones to make decisions about allocating assets in the fund. ETFs, on the other hand, were more passively managed or tracked market indices and specific sector indices. That distinction has, however, become blurry in recent years, as passive index funds take up a bigger proportion of the mutual funds assets under the management, while there is an increasing array of actively managed ETFs which is available to investors.


Key Takeaways

  • Mutual funds were typically actively managed in the past years, with the fund managers who were actively buying and selling securities in between the funds attempting to beat the market while helping investors to make a profit. However, passively managed index funds have become quite popular in recent years.
  • On the other hand, while ETFs are usually passively managed, as they usually track a market index or sub-index, there is an accelerating number of actively managed ETFs.
  • A big distinction between ETFs and mutual funds is that individuals can buy and sell ETFs just like stocks. But, they can purchase mutual funds only at the end of a trading day.
  • Actively managed mutual funds usually have higher fees and higher expense ratios in comparison to ETFs. This reflects the higher operating costs that the active management involves.
  • Mutual funds can be open-ended, which means trading takes place between investors, and there are limitless funds and shares available. Close-ended funds, on the other hand, issue a number of shares regardless of what the investors demand.

ETF Vs Mutual Fund: Management 

While a fund manager can both actively or passively manage an ETF, most of the ETFs are passive investments that are pinned to how a certain index performs.

On the other hand, mutual funds vary from both active and indexed types, but they are usually managed actively. Mutual fund managers manage the active mutual funds.

ETF Vs Mutual Fund: Trading

Trading ETFs is a lot identical to stock trading. This means one can buy and sell them anytime during the day, and their price fluctuates throughout the day. It means that the price at which you are buying an ETF will differ compared to the prices that other investors pay.

Mutual funds, however, are orders that execute once each day, with every investor the very day and receive the same price.

ETF Vs Mutual Funds: Minimum Investment

ETFs are a lot like trade stocks. They do not require any initial minimum amount, and you can purchase them as whole shares. One may just buy an ETF for the price of a share, which is usually referred to as the “market price” of the ETF.

The initial investments for ETFs are usually flat dollar amounts and are not based on the share price of the fund. Unlike an ETF, you may purchase a mutual fund in fixed dollar amounts or fractional shares.

ETF Vs Mutual Funds: Costing 

ETFs come with implicit and explicit costs. While the broker will be disclosing the cost of the trading commissions, the ETF provider will tell the operating expense ratio. However, you must not miss out on the bid/ask spread or the premium or discount to NAV. These costs will be implicit. They result from selling or buying ETFs in the market at a price that differs from the value of the underlying holding of the ETF.

In addition to the operating costs, there is a chance that they may carry other additional costs, too.

ETF Vs Mutual Fund: Tax Efficiency 

ETFs usually generate less capital gains for investors as they may have a lower turnover and may use the in-kind creation/redemption process to deal with the cost basis of the holdings.

A sale of securities within the mutual funds may end up triggering capital gains for the shareholders. This may be applicable to even those who may realize a loss on the overall investment in the mutual funds.

Frequently Asked Questions!! (FAQs)

Q1. Is ETF Better Than Mutual Fund? 

Ans. Both ETF and mutual funds can help track indexes; however, ETFs are the most cost-effective and liquid as they trade on expenses like stock shares. Mutual funds provide some advantages, like active management or greater regulatory oversight. But, they only permit transactions once each day and have a relatively higher cost.

Q2. Why Buy An ETF Instead Of A Mutual Fund? 

Ans. ETFs generally have a lower operating cost in comparison to traditional open-end funds, greater transparency, flexible trading, and better tax efficiency in the taxable accounts. For over a century, traditional mutual funds have given many benefits over developing portfolios.

Q3. Are ETF Riskier Than Mutual Funds?

Ans. Both ETF vs mutual funds come with lesser risks than stock or bond investments. ETF vs mutual funds both come with in-built diversification. One fund may include thousands of individual stocks or bonds within a single fund. So, if one stock or bond does poorly, there might be a chance for the other to perform well.

The Bottom Line 

With the difference between ETF vs mutual fund, are you contemplating on which one is better? Well, the answer depends. Each has a certain need that it fulfills.

Mutual funds are more feasible when investing in obscure niches, which include stocks of smaller foreign companies that are complex but have potential rewarding areas.

But in most situations, and for maximum investors, ETFs always hold the edge. Their ability to offer exposure to multiple market segments in a straight way makes them useful if you have a priority to gather long-term wealth, which has a balanced and diverse portfolio.

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Upasana is a budding journalist who has a keen interest in writing. She considers writing as therapeutic and is most confident when she writes. She is passionate about music, movies and fashion. She writes in a way that connects with the audience in a personal level. She is optimistic, fun loving and opinionated.


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