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Like a mutual fund, an exchange-traded fund pools the money of many investors and purchases a group of securities. Like index mutual funds, most ETFs are passively managed. Instead of having a portfolio manager who uses his or her judgment to select specific stocks, bonds, or other securities to buy and sell, both index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds attempt to replicate the performance of a specific index. However, a mutual fund is priced once a day, when the fund’s net asset value is calculated after the market closes. If you buy after that, you will receive the next day’s closing price. By contrast, an ETF is priced throughout the day and can be bought on margin or sold short–in other words, it’s traded just as a stock is.

An ETF is expected to approximate the performance of the index it tracks, but it may slightly underperform the index due to administrative costs. Less heavily traded ETFs may actually have market values that are significantly higher or lower than the underlying values due to the principle of supply and demand. For example, if a particular sector has fallen out of favor, demand for shares of an ETF in that sector may fall out of favor as well. This could cause the ETF’s price to fall further than the underlying value of the fund’s actual shares. And, like all securities funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

IRS Circular 230 disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matter addressed herein.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018