If you are someone who is new to investing or has little to no knowledge of the stock market, then you need an investment instrument which is in line with your risk and return objectives. If you don’t have the time to research, understand stocks, identify particular scrips, keep track of dividends or coupons & capital gains, then Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are the right instrument of investment for you. At the same time, if you want to save money by not investing in each & every scrip individually or avoid paying higher management fees (as in Mutual Funds), then ETF is indeed the way forward for you. Internationally, ETFs are much in demand because of the inherent ease of investing in these funds. While ETFs may be a cost-effective and attractive investment avenue, investors are advised to get informed about the inherent risks involved in investing in stocks and securities such as ETFs.
Now the question is, what is an Exchange Traded Fund? An ETF is a kind of security that constitutes a collection of securities – such as stocks – which tracks an underlying index. Because ETFs (composed of stocks) constitute a diversified group of stocks, the diversification benefit from investing in these instruments can be enjoyed by investors; however, it is important to mention that ETFs are not devoid of the inherent risk of the market. ETFs can be composed of stocks from different sectors and industries or from a single industry. ETFs may constitute one category of stocks or different ones. ETFs track underlying specific benchmark indices. Hence, ETFs are (generally) passive funds. When someone buys units of an ETF, he/ she is buying shares of a portfolio that tracks the yield and return of its index. The ETFs trade at a price close to their underlying basket price. However, because of demand/ supply forces in the market, there are times when the ETF will trade at a discount or premium to its Net Asset Value (NAV – assets minus liabilities on a per unit basis). The NAV of an ETF is calculated by the ETF fund manager at close of trading day for investors to gauge the underlying value of their holdings. On the other hand, the Indicative NAV (iNAV) is available at different periods of time during trading hours to help investors make the right decision for investing in ETFs
You may feel confused between ETFs and mutual funds because of their similiarities. However, while there are similiarities, ETFs are a different product altogether. Unlike mutual funds, ETFs have the liquidity and trading flexibility of stocks. ETFs can be bought and sold anytime during the trading hours like stocks and shares. On the other hand, mutual funds are purchased or redeemed based on the end of day Net Asset Value. Also, the underlying stocks constituting the ETF are disclosed every trading day whereas in mutual funds they are disclosed monthly by their respective Asset Management Companies (AMCs). In terms of fees and charges, ETFs have lower management fees as compared to mutual funds which have higher management fees and have a sales load/ sales charge as well. However, broker’s commission is charged against ETF trades.
There are many advantages of investing in ETFs. ETFs are easy to invest in. They can be bought and sold on the stock market through a brokerage account. For investing in ETFs, a brokerage account with a PSX TREC holder or brokerage firm needs to be opened. The orders to purchase and sell ETFs can be placed just like in shares’ purchase & sale. Limit orders and stop orders are also possible in ETFs. ETFs provide an easy way to diversify across different sectors, industries or securities and can constitute stocks, commodities, bonds, or other securities. In many markets of the world, there are several types of ETFs on offer which are composed of a combination of securities varying across different asset classes.
ETFs are a popular investment instrument in many countries around the world. More than 50 countries have ETFs listed on their markets. At present, ETFs can boast of Assets Under Management (AUM) of more than $ 7 trillion* globally.
In Pakistan, presently, there are four Exchange Traded Funds listed on the Exchange. These are NIT Pakistan Gateway ETF offered by NIT, UBL Pakistan Enterprise ETF offered by UBL Fund Managers Limited, Meezan Pakistan ETF offered by Al Meezan Investment Management Limited and NBP Pakistan Growth ETF offered by NBP Fund Management Limited. While we have a few ETFs of the conventional type, there is also a Shariah-compliant ETF (Meezan Pakistan ETF) available for those investors who want to invest according to Islamic principles of finance. It is expected that more such instruments will be listed on Pakistan Stock Exchange with the passage of time.
Conclusively, we can say that the ETF is a complete package of an investment instrument addressing your concerns as an investor from all aspects, may it be ease of account opening, transparency with regards to underlying stocks, periodic announcement of iNAV, cost effectiveness, and diversification.
By Raeda Latif – Head of Marketing & Business Development
Pakistan Stock Exchange Limited