Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Instruments (ETFs, ETNs, and CEFs) – An Introduction

Mutual funds (open-end fund) draw on money from investors to acquire stocks, bonds, or other assets. In return investors receive shares of the mutual fund proportional to these invested assets. The funds are considered open-end for the reason that shares can be continually issued or redeemed based on investor demand. Also absent for mutual funds is the secondary market– Investors buy shares from the mutual fund and redeem it by selling it back – no trading occurs between investors. On the other hand, with exchange traded instruments (ETFs, ETNs, and CEFs), shares outstanding increase or decrease less frequently and only in large chunks (multiple of “creation units”). They are called Exchange Traded as there is a secondary market for these instruments where they can be traded identical to any other stock.

The spreadsheet below compares the features of exchange traded instruments with mutual funds:








































Comparison TermMutual FundExchange Traded Instruments
Trades in an ExchangeNo – bought/sold from/to the mutual fund companyYes – Trades just like a stock.
PriceNet Asset Value (NAV) at the End of the Trading DayMarket Value that varies through-out the day. Could trade at a premium or discount to NAV.
Purchase CostsMore – except no-load mutual funds that do not have front and back-end loads – they still charge a small fee in most casesLess – Brokerage fees and the bid-ask spread which is both relatively small.
Ongoing FeesMore – Actively managed funds have much higher fees while index mutual funds have lower fees although usually not as low as comparable Exchange Traded InstrumentsLess.
Automatic Dividend ReinvestmentYesNo
OptionsNo – not traded in stock exchanges at allYes
Granular Purchase OptionYes – you can buy for any amount as long as minimums are metNo – you have to purchase whole shares (not fractional).
Minimum Investment RequirementsMostly YesNo with some exceptions
Portfolio TurnoverMore – no protection against other investors redeeming shares thereby forcing the fund to realize capital gains/lossesLess – Immunity from tax consequences due to other investor activity
Capital Gains TaxesYes – ongoingNo – only when sold.
Cash Drag (Performance impact due to holding cash instead of other investments)More – mutual funds usually hold more cash to satisfy on-going redemptionsLess – with certain exchange traded instruments that are structured as Unit Investment Trust there can be a cash drag because of a regulatory requirement to hold dividends in non-interest bearing accounts until distribution.


The three types of Exchange Traded Instruments (ETF, ETN, and CEF) can be summarized as:

ETF:

- With an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), assets are acquired by selling large blocks of shares called “creation units.” Selling large blocks is a regulatory requirement and allows for the formation of a secondary market. Since no money is exchanged in the primary market (creation units are exchanged for large blocks), there is no tax event at that level. The creation units are sold, after being separated into a large number of individual shares, thus forming the secondary market.

ETN:

- Exchange Traded Notes (ETN) is structured as a debt instrument. Debt instruments by nature are prone to credit risk – risk involved with the debtor (in this case the entity that issues ETNs) not honoring the obligation. This situation arises if the issuing entity goes bankrupt or runs into financial trouble. ETN’s promise a return tied to an index or other market benchmark (less fees). As with ETFs, “creation units” and secondary market creation are applicable to ETNs too. However, ETNs are a riskier investment option due to the added credit risk involved – this risk is somewhat mitigated by the fact that issuing agencies usually have good credit ratings.

CEF:

- Closed End Funds (CEF) are launched through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) process and the funds realized are then invested. Shares are traded in stock exchanges thereby forming the secondary market. Since a fixed amount of money is raised at IPO, shares outstanding remain stable.

Below is a spreadsheet that summarizes how they differ from each other:


































Comparison TermETFETNCEF
Investor HoldsShares that represent assets heldShares that represent a Senior Debt ContractShares that represent assets held.
RecourseAssets HeldIssuer CreditAssets Held
RiskMarketMarket & IssuerMarket. The portfolio may use leverage which is an additional risk.
Institutional (multiple of creation unit) RedemptionCustodianIssuerNA
Benchmark Tracking ErrorYesNo – it is a prepaid contractYes
ValuationNet Asset Value (NAV) – usually trades close to this valueIndicative Value based on associated benchmark levelNet Asset Value (NAV) – can trade at a significant premium or discount.
MaturityNone – investors can redeem anytime at multiples of “creation unit”Varies – can be a few years to 30 years or more – investor receives cash that conforms with the investment return promised (benchmark return minus fees) None, although there are exceptions
DistributionsYes - dividendsNoneYes - dividends
Tax TreatmentDividends taxed on an on-going basis. Capital gains taxed when sellingNo on-going taxes. Capital gains taxed when sellingDividends taxed on an on-going basis. Capital gains taxed when selling



Summary:

There are several thousands of mutual funds with more than ten trillion in assets under management. This compares to around thousand exchange traded instruments with close to a trillion in assets. Even so, exchange traded instruments offers far more flexibility and the fees on the average are fewer explaining the faster growth of exchange traded instruments compared to mutual funds. There are distinct structural differences within the three exchange traded instruments with associated differences in their investment and risk profiles. As with any investment vehicle, careful consideration needs to be given to these factors before committing money.

Related Posts:

1. Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Funds - An Introduction.
2. Triple Leveraged ETFs - An Introduction.

Last Updated: 06/2009. 

No comments :

Labels

401k ( 15 ) Abad Turtle Beach ( 1 ) Abrams Capital Management ( 5 ) Acoustic Electric Guitars ( 1 ) Acoustic Guitars ( 1 ) ACT ( 1 ) Activist ( 4 ) Address Change ( 2 ) Advanced Placement ( 4 ) air asia ( 2 ) airlines ( 2 ) Akre Capital Management ( 18 ) Alex Roepers ( 5 ) AP ( 4 ) apartments ( 2 ) Appaloosa ( 15 ) ARIUS ( 1 ) Arlington Value Capital ( 3 ) Atlantic Investment Management ( 5 ) Ayemenem ( 1 ) Bangalore ( 3 ) Bangkok ( 2 ) Bannerghatta National Park ( 1 ) barbuda ( 2 ) Battery Park ( 1 ) Baupost ( 2 ) Baupost Group ( 17 ) bay area ( 2 ) BDCs ( 3 ) Benjamin Graham ( 2 ) Benjamin Graham Model ( 2 ) Berijam Lake ( 2 ) Berkshire Hathaway ( 30 ) best sites ( 9 ) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( 13 ) Bill Ackman ( 19 ) Bill Gates ( 14 ) Blue Ridge Capital ( 13 ) Blum Capital Partners ( 12 ) books ( 4 ) Boone Pickens ( 2 ) BP Capital Management ( 2 ) Brave Warrior ( 3 ) Brave Warrior Advisors ( 12 ) british honduras ( 2 ) Bruce Berkowitz ( 19 ) Bruce Fund ( 12 ) Camcorders ( 3 ) canada ( 4 ) cancun ( 3 ) CANROYs ( 7 ) Cantillon ( 12 ) carl icahn ( 9 ) Carl Ichan ( 8 ) casino ( 3 ) Casio ( 2 ) CBRE ( 2 ) CEF ( 2 ) Charles Akre ( 15 ) Charlie Munger ( 13 ) Chase Coleman ( 13 ) Chou Associates ( 18 ) Christmas gifts ( 7 ) Christopher H. Browne ( 7 ) Chuck Akre ( 13 ) Cisco ( 2 ) Class Action Settlements ( 2 ) CLEP ( 1 ) Coatue Management ( 13 ) Cochin ( 2 ) coin collecting ( 266 ) collectibles ( 266 ) Consumer Product Reviews ( 29 ) cook islands ( 2 ) coonoor ( 2 ) Covered Calls ( 2 ) credai ( 4 ) Daily Journal ( 13 ) Dalal Street ( 8 ) Dan Loeb ( 10 ) DAT ( 1 ) David Abrams ( 5 ) David Einhorn ( 22 ) David Swensen ( 17 ) David Tepper ( 15 ) David Winters ( 15 ) DCF ( 2 ) Digital Piano ( 3 ) Dinakar Singh ( 13 ) Donald Yacktman ( 10 ) dry bulk shipping ( 2 ) Duquesne ( 18 ) Education ( 37 ) Edward Lampert ( 14 ) Egerton Capital ( 13 ) Egypt ( 3 ) Elementary Education ( 10 ) Elementary School Textbooks ( 5 ) eReaders ( 2 ) Eric Mindich ( 13 ) ESL Investments ( 9 ) ESPP ( 6 ) ETF ( 2 ) ETN ( 2 ) Eton Park ( 13 ) Everyday Musings ( 58 ) Exam Prep ( 7 ) Exiting the rat race - how to? ( 19 ) EXPLORE ( 1 ) Fair Value Estimates ( 4 ) Fairfax Financial ( 4 ) Fairfax Financial Holdings ( 14 ) Fairholme ( 19 ) Fairpointe ( 13 ) Family Office ( 5 ) FD Laddering ( 1 ) Financial Independence ( 93 ) Fisher Asset Management ( 10 ) Flash Camcorders ( 3 ) flat ( 4 ) flats ( 2 ) Flip ( 3 ) Francis Chou ( 18 ) free ( 17 ) frugal ( 3 ) Frugal Living ( 34 ) Fund Holdings ( 755 ) futures ( 2 ) FVE ( 2 ) gambling ( 3 ) garmin ( 2 ) Genting ( 2 ) george soros ( 21 ) giveaway ( 15 ) Glenn Greenberg ( 16 ) Glenview Capital ( 10 ) GMAT ( 1 ) Google ( 2 ) Gotham Asset Management ( 7 ) gps ( 4 ) GRE ( 1 ) Greenlight Capital ( 22 ) Guitars ( 3 ) Half Marathon ( 2 ) Hawaii ( 2 ) Hedge Funds ( 774 ) HELOC ( 1 ) High School Education ( 7 ) High School Textbooks ( 6 ) HOA ( 3 ) hobby ( 17 ) holiday shopping ( 7 ) Holidays ( 3 ) Holyland ( 11 ) Home Improvement ( 2 ) home ownership ( 5 ) Homes ( 18 ) Homeschool ( 18 ) Houses ( 2 ) Housing ( 3 ) Hykon ( 2 ) Ian Cumming ( 15 ) Icahn Enterprises ( 6 ) india real estate ( 5 ) Infinuvo ( 6 ) Insurance ( 2 ) invesco ( 17 ) investing strategies ( 2 ) Investment Portfolio ( 94 ) Investment Research ( 10 ) Investments ( 7 ) iRobot ( 5 ) Irving Kahn ( 10 ) israel ( 5 ) Jason Maynard ( 10 ) Jefferies ( 2 ) Jeffrey Bruce ( 13 ) Jeffrey Ubben ( 12 ) Jerusalem ( 2 ) Jim Chanos ( 13 ) Joel Greenblatt ( 7 ) John Armitage ( 13 ) John Griffin ( 13 ) John Paulson ( 17 ) Joho Capital ( 15 ) Jordan ( 3 ) Joseph Steinberg ( 9 ) Julian Robertson ( 4 ) Kahn Brothers ( 10 ) Kakkanad ( 4 ) Kanyakumari ( 2 ) Kawai ( 2 ) Ken Fisher ( 10 ) kerala real estate ( 5 ) Kids ( 49 ) Kids Yamaha ( 3 ) Kindle ( 2 ) kochi ( 8 ) Kodaikanal ( 2 ) Korg ( 2 ) Kraft ( 2 ) Kuala Lumpur ( 2 ) KWA ( 2 ) Kynikos ( 13 ) laptop ( 5 ) Larry Robbins ( 10 ) Las Vegas ( 2 ) Leon Cooperman ( 14 ) Leucadia ( 2 ) Leucadia National ( 13 ) Lone Pine Capital ( 9 ) long ( 6 ) long call ( 2 ) long puts ( 3 ) Lou Simpson ( 15 ) LSAT ( 1 ) Mahabalipuram ( 2 ) Malaysia ( 3 ) Marathon ( 2 ) Mark McGoldrick ( 10 ) Markel ( 13 ) Mason Hawkins ( 4 ) MCAT ( 1 ) Melinda Gates ( 7 ) memorabilia ( 266 ) MFP Investors ( 13 ) Michael Dell ( 15 ) Michael Price ( 13 ) Middle School Education ( 4 ) Middle School Textbooks ( 3 ) Mini Notebook ( 2 ) MODUS ( 1 ) Mohnish Pabrai ( 21 ) mortgage ( 2 ) Mount Kellett ( 10 ) MSD Capital ( 15 ) Music ( 6 ) Mutual Funds ( 5 ) mysore ( 2 ) Nelson Peltz ( 9 ) Netbook ( 3 ) Notebook ( 2 ) numismatics ( 266 ) O-Duster ( 1 ) Oahu ( 2 ) offers ( 2 ) Ole Andreas Halvorsen ( 10 ) Omega Advisors ( 14 ) online tax ( 3 ) ooty ( 2 ) Options ( 4 ) Pabrai Fund ( 17 ) passive income ( 7 ) pattaya ( 2 ) Paulson & Company ( 7 ) Paulson and Company ( 9 ) PEG ( 2 ) Pershing Square ( 19 ) Phil Fisher ( 5 ) philately ( 283 ) Philippe Laffont ( 13 ) Piano ( 9 ) PLAN Test ( 1 ) portfolio ( 4 ) Prem Watsa ( 17 ) product reviews ( 13 ) Property Taxes ( 2 ) PSAT ( 1 ) R2I ( 24 ) R2I Finances ( 3 ) R2I Housing ( 5 ) Raising Kids ( 41 ) Rat Race ( 15 ) RBS Partners ( 12 ) reading ( 5 ) real estate ( 6 ) Reducing Expenses ( 2 ) REIT ( 3 ) Retirement Portfolio ( 9 ) Reviews ( 81 ) Richard C. Blum ( 12 ) Robert Bruce ( 13 ) Robert Karr ( 15 ) Robotic Vacuum ( 4 ) Roland ( 2 ) Roomba ( 10 ) schooling ( 2 ) Sears ( 9 ) seeking alpha ( 2 ) Services - Reviews ( 33 ) Seth Klarman ( 19 ) Shipping ( 5 ) Shopping ( 3 ) short ( 5 ) short calls ( 2 ) short put ( 2 ) short puts ( 2 ) short selling ( 7 ) Ski ( 5 ) Sled ( 4 ) Solar Stocks ( 13 ) Soros Fund Management ( 14 ) Southeastern Asset Management ( 4 ) Southwest ( 2 ) spin-offs ( 2 ) SQ Advisors ( 15 ) stamp collecting ( 283 ) Stanley Druckenmiller ( 18 ) Statue of Liberty ( 2 ) Stephen Mandel ( 9 ) Stock Analysis ( 84 ) Stock Investments ( 4 ) Stock Portfolio Updates ( 6 ) stocks ( 3 ) summer ( 2 ) tax ( 5 ) TaxAct ( 2 ) TaxCut ( 1 ) Teacher's Editions ( 5 ) Technology ( 4 ) Test Prep ( 11 ) Thailand ( 3 ) Thekkady ( 2 ) theme park ( 2 ) Third Point ( 10 ) Thomas Gayner ( 13 ) Thyra Zerhusen ( 13 ) Tiger Cub ( 28 ) Tiger Global ( 14 ) Tiger Management ( 12 ) Time Square ( 2 ) TOEFL ( 1 ) TPG-Axon ( 13 ) Travel ( 278 ) Travel Reviews ( 82 ) Trian Fund Holdings ( 9 ) trip report ( 21 ) TurboTax ( 3 ) Tweedy Browne ( 10 ) Vacations ( 28 ) value investing ( 12 ) ValueAct ( 5 ) ValueAct Holdings ( 6 ) Vancouver ( 2 ) Video ( 3 ) Viking Global ( 10 ) Wallace Weitz ( 10 ) Warren Buffett ( 30 ) Wayanad ( 4 ) Weitz Investment Management ( 9 ) wilbur ross ( 17 ) William Von Mueffling ( 12 ) Wintergreen Advisors ( 15 ) Yacktman Asset Management ( 10 ) Yale Endowment ( 17 ) Yale University ( 7 ) Yamaha ( 7 ) YDP ( 1 ) YPG ( 1 )