A stock is an ownership in a publicly-traded company, and an ETF is also ownership in a publicly-traded company but typically tracks an index. The primary difference between a stock and an ETF is that stock is traded OTC (over-the-counter), while an ETF trades on exchanges like stocks.
What is an ETF?
ETF stands for Exchange-Traded Fund. ETFs are investment instruments that trade on stock exchanges like stocks but track an index like mutual funds. ETFs are meant to be less expensive than mutual funds and more flexible than indexes since investors can trade them during the day instead of only at the end of the trading day.
Because you can easily short ETFs, they have become popular in moderately bear market cycles as a method to bet against certain asset classes or sub-classes without having to go through the process of shorting individual stocks. Additionally, because many products are thinly traded, their spreads tend to be wider than those found on blue-chip stocks with significant liquidity.
The advantages of trading in ETFs?
ETFs have several advantages over traditional individual stocks.
ETFs must disclose their holdings daily, so you know exactly what is in your ETF and how it tracks its index.
Most traditional stocks have significant diversification, which means that once you buy one share of a company, it will usually make up less than 1% of your overall portfolio. But an ETF covers the entire market or even multiple indexes such as MSCI EAFE (an international equity index).
Since an ETF trades like shares of common stock (on an exchange), it is typically more liquid than individual stocks.
When a capital gain is realised on an investment held less than one year, the gains are subject to ordinary income tax rates (up to 39.6% federally). But if your holding period is longer than one year, the long-term capital gains rate applies.
What are the risks associated with ETFs?
The main risk associated with ETFs and index funds is their large-scale, automated trading. While this makes them easy to use and buy into, it also means that they can be very risky. ETFs tend to trade more than most mutual funds because they are index funds, and because of this, they can open up your portfolio to market risk. Market risk essentially means that there is no guaranteed return on your investment at all times – if you buy shares when markets are low, chances are you won’t get back what you paid for them. To trade ETF Singapore successfully, always use reputable brokers.
Are stocks a safe investment?
Stocks are a good investment for the future, but are they safe to buy? The short answer is yes. Stocks have historically been one of the best ways to grow your money over time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased roughly 9% every year since its creation in 1896. For comparison, inflation has averaged 2.3%.
Many investors lost money because of the market crash at the end of 2008, but this is unusual. First off, if you put all your money into stocks right before it crashed, you would have missed significant gains during 2009-2012, when the market rose back to pre-crash levels.
Furthermore, crashes are not common occurrences; there was only one when the market was at its highest in 1929. Despite another crash in 1987, stocks have grown in value since then. Nobody can guarantee that your money will grow in the future, but the chances of losing money are meagre if you invest in reasonably large companies that sell products or services that you use regularly. The more stable and predictable the company’s business model is, the less likely it will lose value over time. If you can’t buy individual stocks (which most people can’t), mutual funds are an alternative way to get broad exposure to many different companies- however, they often come with high fees.