Most ETFs are similar to index funds (see mutual fund ) in that they represent a portfolio that is designed to track an index of a financial market, such as the S&P500. ETFs, however, track a greater range of indexes and thus offer more options and more specifically targeted choices for an investor. Unlike shares in a mutual fund, which may be redeemed only at the end of the business day when the net asset value is determined, ETF shares may be bought or sold at any time on an exchange and also may be sold short and purchased on margin, which is useful for traders. In general, compared to mutual funds, ETFs are more useful to the active trader with larger financial resources than to the long-term small investor. The first ETF was created in 1993 in the United States; the number of ETFs and amount of money invested in them grew significantly in the early 21st cent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Money, Banking, and Investment