Difference between ETF and Mutual Fund

Exchange−traded funds (ETFs) have received much attention as of late for being one of the most promising investing vehicles. In the eyes of the uninitiated, these funds are similar to mutual funds since the investors' money is pooled to purchase a diversified set of bonds and equities. So, what is the distinction between the two?

Exchange−traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds have very few distinguishing features. One key difference is that exchange−traded funds (ETFs) can be purchased directly through a brokerage, much like stocks, whereas mutual funds must be purchased through a fund management organization.

Most ETFs are managed similarly to index funds, which means that individual fund managers are not responsible for selecting individual holdings. Such funds instead simulate a collection of investments. Whether an investor chooses a mutual fund or an ETF depends on what works best for them. Purchasing an ETF is quick and simple if the investor already has a brokerage account. An individual who wants to invest but lacks access to a brokerage account may be better served by purchasing shares in a mutual fund.

What is Exchange Traded Fund (ETF)?

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, are mutual funds that trade like stocks on the stock market. Commodities, equities, and bonds are all assets that an ETF may own. During a trading day, they are exchanged at a price near the net asset value they were issued. Most ETFs follow the performance of an underlying index, such as a bond or stock index. ETF prices may fluctuate during the trading day. In comparison to mutual fund shares, ETFs often offer cheaper costs and more daily liquidity. The three main applications of exchange−traded funds (ETFs) are hedging, equalizing cash, and arbitrage.

Owners of exchange−traded funds (ETFs) partake in the company's success through distributions, including dividends and interest. In the event of a fund liquidation, they may also get a residual value. ETF shares are often listed on stock exchanges to facilitate trading, buying, and selling.

Some investors, known as "authorized participants," are required to take part in the "creation" and "redemption" processes that control the flow of ETFs into the market (APs). The majority of APs are large, well−known financial organizations like banks and investment firms that may exert substantial purchasing power.

Advantages of ETF

Here are some of ETFs' primary benefits −

  • Trading short or using leverage allows investors to increase their exposure. There is no minimum investment amount; therefore, they can buy as little as one share.

  • When purchasing or selling ETFs, the fee paid to the broker is identical to the one paid for a standard order.

  • It functions similarly to a mutual fund in that its price fluctuates daily. The financial dealings happen in "real−time," too.

What is Mutual Fund?

Compared to exchange−traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds often have more significant initial investment requirements. These minimums may change from one business to the next and from one type of fund to another. While American Funds' The Growth Fund of America requires a lower initial deposit of only $250, Vanguard's 500 Index Investor Fund Admiral Shares demands a minimum investment of $3,000.

When producing money for their investors, many mutual funds have a "fund manager" or "fund team" who actively trades stocks or other assets inside the fund to outperform the market. Due to the increased need for time, effort, and people in researching and analyzing securities, these funds often come at a greater cost.

Mutual fund purchases and sells are conducted directly between investors and the fund. When the net asset value (NAV) is calculated at the close of business, only then is the price of the fund fixed.

Difference between ETF and Mutual Fund

The following table highlights how and ETF is different from a Mutual Fund −

ETF Mutual Fund
The value of an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) fluctuates during the course of a trading day as it is bought and sold by investors. At the end of the trading day, the net asset value is used to determine mutual funds' purchase and sale prices.
The running costs of an ETF are cheaper. Operating expenses for mutual funds can vary widely.
For Exchange Traded Funds, there is no set minimum amount required to invest. The minimum annual operating costs for most Mutual Funds are published.
As a result of how ETFs are created and redeemed, investors might enjoy favorable tax treatment. The tax consequences of investing in a mutual fund are greater than those of an exchange−traded fund.
Every trading day, investors may buy and sell ETFs on the stock market at the current market price. Only from the funds themselves may shares of a mutual fund be acquired at the day's set NAV price.
Buying and selling shares often incur no fees when investing in a mutual fund, unlike ETFs. The "bid−ask spread" is an extra fee that must be paid when buying and selling ETFs.
Every trading day, investors may buy and sell ETFs on the stock market at the current market price. Shares of a mutual fund are acquired at the day's set NAV price only from the funds themselves.
The "bid−ask spread" is an extra fee that must be paid when buying and selling ETFs. Buying and selling shares often incur no fees when investing in a mutual fund, unlike ETFs.
Since an ETF's liquidity is not tied to its daily trading volume, it is significantly higher. The market value and trading volume of an ETF mirror that of the equities comprising its underlying index. Mutual funds' liquidity is worse than that of ETFs.
Regarding ETFs, there is no predetermined time limit on when an asset may be sold. At any moment during the trading day, the investor can make a purchase or sell at the current market price. This means that there is no required minimum holding period. There may be a charge for selling shares of a mutual fund before the specified time. An investor must often wait 90 days from the date of acquisition before selling their shares.
ETFs are mutual funds that attempt to mimic the performance of a certain index by constructing a portfolio composed of securities with comparable characteristics to those comprising the index itself and then trading on the open market. Mutual funds are actively managed by experts, and they follow an index. The assets are selected to outperform the benchmark.


In comparison to mutual funds, which often have bigger capital gains, ETFs are marginally more tax−efficient since they do not transfer capital gains onto their investors. Mutual funds, on the other hand, are often the simplest and cheapest option to invest in many markets and different types of assets.

Both mutual funds and exchange−traded funds (ETFs) are based on the idea of pooled investing and employ a passive indexing strategy. But exchange−traded funds (ETFs) provide easy access to extensive market segments, which helps to explain why they are gaining in popularity.