Exchange Traded Funds (ETF): Types, Benefits and Limitations

Learn about investing in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and its various types.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF): Types, Benefits and Limitations
3 mins
22 June 2023

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

An Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) is a collection of marketable securities that track an underlying index. An ETF is a collection of securities such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or a basket of assets like an index fund. It combines the features of different investment options, such as mutual funds and stocks. While it is like index funds, there is a point of difference. ETFs can be bought or sold on stock exchanges like stocks.

More important details are provided in the following sections.

Types of ETFs

Discussed below are the various types of Exchange Traded Funds:

  1. Equity ETF
    Equity ETFs are described as passive investment options combining the features of stocks and equity mutual funds. Investors can trade these funds on stock exchanges, namely the NSE (National Stock Exchange) or BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange). They can purchase or sell these funds at market prices on a real-time basis.
    While the minimum investment quantum is one unit, there is no specification regarding the minimum investment amount. Equity ETFs are cost-effective and provide transparency regarding their holdings.
  2. Bond ETF
    Through bond ETFs, investors receive exposure to various fixed-income instruments such as Government bonds (with different maturities) and debentures. These ETFs combine the features of stock investments with the benefit of debt investments and the simplicity of mutual funds. People can trade bond ETFs on the open cash market.
  3. Commodity ETF
    Gold and silver ETFs are the only commodity ETFs available in India right now. These are passively managed funds tracking an underlying market index. The NAV (Net Asset Value) of commodity ETFs is subject to change throughout the day. The movement in prices depends on the demand and supply of the commodity in the markets.
  4. Sectoral/ thematic ETF
    A sectoral or thematic ETF tracks the performance of a particular sector or theme. A sectoral Exchange Traded Fund invests in a specific industry, such as banking, pharmaceuticals, and real estate. A thematic ETF focuses on an idea that encompasses multiple sectors like consumption or ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).
  5. International ETFs
    International Exchange Traded Funds replicate the index of a foreign country or that of the global market. These ETFs provide the opportunity to invest directly in foreign companies. They are similar to international mutual funds. Investors could use such ETFs to diversify the political and geographical risks associated with their portfolios. The price determination depends on the region-specific timelines and takes place at the end of the day.

How do Exchange Traded Funds work?

ETF builds a fund by investing in a collection of assets based on a benchmark index. Traders can purchase units of an ETF in the same way they purchase stocks of a firm. ETF trading takes place on a stock exchange throughout the day.

How to buy and sell ETFs?

Given below are steps to purchase units of an ETF:

Step 1: Open a Demat and trading account with an online brokerage firm. You can easily open one with Bajaj Financial Securities Limited. Before that, conduct thorough research and decide on the fund to invest in.

Step 2: A variety of options will be available depending on the AMC (Asset Management Company). Insert the correct symbol and number of shares to purchase.

Step 3: Depending on the preferred ETF transaction, place an order and click on ‘submit’. After the completion of the deal, the investor will receive an order update.

Investors can sell ETFs throughout the day. It enables them to benefit from intraday price changes. This is in stark contrast to mutual funds, where investors can make a purchase or redemption only at the end of a trading day.

Advantages and disadvantages of ETFs

The benefits and limitations of investing in ETFs are given in this section:


The benefits of investing in ETFs are as follows:

  • It is quite easy to understand the investment returns of Exchange Traded Funds.
  • Investing in ETFs helps to mitigate unsystematic risks due to its passive investment strategy. It also lowers one’s overall investment risk.
  • It greatly helps with portfolio diversification.
  • With the limited role of fund managers, ETF investments are comparatively cost-effective.


Listed below are the disadvantages of investing in ETFs:

  • Some people consider ETFs to be a non-efficient investment option. This is primarily because the investment returns mirror the underlying index.
  • Fund managers of ETFs are unable to choose portfolio securities or deviate from the index weightage. So, investors shouldn’t expect the ETFs to outperform their underlying indices.
  • Moreover, ETF trading depends a lot on the liquidity of the units.

Exchange Traded Funds are a useful investment option for investors who wish for exposure to a particular asset class, industry, region, or currency. People don’t have to worry much about conducting thorough research on specific sectors or industries. Furthermore, due to low operational expenses, these assets are well-suited for long-term investments.

While the popularity of ETFs is growing rapidly, it would be wise if investors evaluated which funds would be best suited for them after formulating their investment goals and assessing their risk appetite.

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