<strong>What is an exchange-traded fund (ETF)?</strong>
An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a pooled investment fund whose shares are traded on an exchange. ETFs are bought and sold by a broker. In the U.S., ETFs can be found on the NYSE, or the NASDAQ.
<strong>How can I buy or sell ETFs?</strong>
ETFs are listed with ticker symbols in the same way as individual stocks. They can be bought or sold throughout the day by a full service or discount broker. A brokerage commission to buy or sell will usually apply.
<strong>How long have ETFs been trading and available for investors to purchase?</strong>
ETFs were first introduced in the early 1990s in the United States and Canada and over the ensuing years the number of ETFs traded worldwide and the value of their assets under management have increased substantially. ETFs are now a global product category tracking the performance of broad-based equity indexes, sector specific equity indexes and are used to invest in other asset classes such as fixed income, currencies and commodities. More recently, active managers have been using ETFs as a platform to reach investors nationally.
<strong>How many ETFs are currently trading?</strong>
There are currently more than 1,500 individual ETFs available to purchase & trade on U.S. exchanges.
<strong>How is an ETF different from a mutual fund?</strong>
ETFs offer investors intraday liquidity and can be bought and sold with a brokerage account. Mutual funds are priced at the end of the day and cannot be bought or sold during regular trading hours. Also, ETFs are traded on a stock exchange, whereas mutual funds are bought and sold directly with the fund company or through a mutual fund trading platform.
<strong>Can ETFs be sold short?</strong>
Yes. One of the potential advantages of ETFs is that they trade on an exchange similar to equities and if available may be sold short.