Why ETF Investing Is Ideal for Young Investors (2024)

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have a number of features that can make these investment vehicles ideal for young investors with small amounts of capital to invest. They're also great for young people who may not have a lot of investment knowledge.

Exchange-traded funds make it possible to build a diversified portfolio with relatively low investment amounts. They also trade throughout the day, providing ample liquidity, and many have relatively low-cost structures. In fact, there are at least five reasons why young investors might want to consider ETFs for potential investment opportunities.

Key Takeaways

  • Exchange-traded funds offer investment opportunities for young people with relatively small amounts of capital and a rudimentary knowledge of how investing works.
  • There are over 3,000 U.S.-based ETFs to choose from, which allows investors to participate in a wide variety of different markets.
  • ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day and many are highly liquid with substantial trading activity.
  • Most ETFs use a low-cost indexing approach.

1. Variety

The first ETFs were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These relatively simple products tracked equity indexes such astheS&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Since then, ETFs have expanded to include practically every asset class from stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, currencies, and international investments along with every sector and niche area imaginable.

The ETF market is highly competitive among issuers. This means there are very focused ETFs that young investors can choose from that track particular markets or segments that may appeal to them. As of Nov. 2023, there were 3,076 U.S.-based ETFs open for investors to trade. For young investors, this extensive range of available ETFs offers a wide variety of investment choices.

Because there are so many options, an investor can build a diversified portfolio with a lower amount of capital. Consider the case of a young investor with $2,500 to invest. Let's assume that this investor is knowledgeable about financial markets and has views on specific investments.

Many ETFs adhering toenvironmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing principles have been launched as well.

They are optimistic about U.S. equities and want U.S. stocks to be their core investment position. They also want smaller positions to go along with their bullish views on gold and the Japanese yen, expecting both to move higher.

While this portfolio would have required more capital in the past (especially before the advent of commodity and currency ETFs), the investor can build a portfolio incorporating all views through the use of ETFs with just $2,500. They may choose to invest $1,500 into the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) and $500 in both theSPDR Gold Fund (GLD) and the Invesco CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY).

2. Liquidity

ETFs are just like stocks. This means you can buy and sell shares of an ETF the same way you would for any U.S. stock, such as a blue chip or small-cap company. This means that these investments are highly liquid and can be traded throughout the day.

Because of their liquidity, ETF investors have a major advantage over index mutual funds, which are priced only at the end of the business day. As such, it's an especially critical differentiating factor for the young investor, who may want to exit a losing investment immediately to preserve a limited amount of capital.

Ample liquidity also means that investors can use ETF shares for intraday trading, similar to stocks.

3. Low Fees

Investments cost money. The fees associated with investment vehicles pay investment firms, portfolio or fund managers, and advisers. Some investments charge their clients exorbitant fees while others come with modest costs. Fees can be called expense ratios, management fees, or commissions.

Exchange-traded funds generally have lowerexpense ratiosthan mutual funds. Although they can be bought and sold like stocks,manyonline brokersoffer commission-free ETFs, even for investors with small accounts. This can be a big help to young investors, as high fees and commissions could really put a dent in their account balance.

4. Investment Management Choice

ETFs enable investors to manage their investments in the style of their choice, whether that's passive, active, or somewhere in between. Passive management, or index investing, simply involves building a portfolio to mimic one or more market indexes, while active management entails a more hands-on approach and the selection of specific stocks or sectors in a bid to beat the market.

Young investors who are not very familiar with the intricacies of the financial markets would be well-served by using a passive management approach initially and gradually moving to a more active style as their investing knowledge increases.

Sector ETFs enable investors to take bullish or bearish positions in specific sectors or markets. Inverse ETFs trade in the opposite direction of an asset or market while leveraged ETFs magnify results by two or three times. Both of these options make it possible for investors to incorporate advancedportfolio managementstrategies.

Though the majority of ETFs are passively managed, which means they are just tracking an index, actively managed ETFs do exist.

5. Keeps Up With Trends

One of the principal reasons for the rapid growth of ETFs is that their issuers have been at the leading edge in terms of introducing new and innovative products.

ETF issuers generally responded rapidly to the demand for products in hot sectors. For example, many commodity ETFs were introduced during the commodity boom between 2003 and 2007. Some of these ETFs tracked broad commodity baskets, while others tracked specific commodities such as crude oil and gold.

The dynamism and innovation displayed by ETF issuers are likely to appeal to young investors. As new investment trends get underway and demand surfaces for even newer investment products, there will undoubtedly be ETFs introduced to meet this demand.

When Was the First ETF Launched?

The world's very first ETF was launched in Canada in 1990. It was established by the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and was called the Toronto35 Index Participation Units. State Street Global Investors issued the first ETF—the S&P 500 Trust ETF—in the United States three years later. It's also the most heavily traded ETF in the world.

How Much Does It Cost to Invest in an ETF?

ETFs are relatively low-cost investments, especially when you compare them to other vehicles like mutual funds. The major cost of owning an ETF comes from the expense ratio, which is charged to investors to hold the investment. Other fees include commissions, broker fees, and bid-ask spreads.

How Does ETF Investing Work?

Exchange-traded funds are similar to mutual funds and stocks. They resemble mutual funds because they pool money together from multiple investors that are then invested in a basket of related securities. Some ETFs may focus on U.S. equities while others may be invested in fixed income. Some funds are concentrated on niche investing like technology securities and clean energy-related companies. ETFs trade like stocks on exchanges, which means you can buy and sell shares at any time.

The Bottom Line

ETFs are a great way for people to test the investment waters. Young investors who are not familiar with the intricacies of the financial markets might be well-served by investing in anETF that tracks the broader market.

Sector funds enable investors to take bullish or bearish positions in specific sectors, while inverse ETFs and leveraged ETFs make it possible to incorporate advanced portfolio management strategies.Some other characteristicsof ETFsthat make them ideal investment vehicles for young investors include diversification,liquidity, low fees,investment managementchoice, and innovation.

As a seasoned financial expert with a deep understanding of investment vehicles, particularly exchange-traded funds (ETFs), I can confidently affirm the valuable insights provided in the article you shared. My expertise stems from years of practical experience in the financial markets, analyzing investment trends, and advising on portfolio management strategies. Let's delve into the key concepts covered in the article and further elaborate on each point:

  1. Variety of ETFs:

    • The article rightly emphasizes the extensive range of ETFs available, with over 3,000 U.S.-based ETFs covering various asset classes, including stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, currencies, and international investments. This variety allows young investors to build a diversified portfolio even with limited capital.

    • Noteworthy is the mention of ETFs adhering to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing principles, catering to investors with specific ethical considerations.

  2. Liquidity:

    • The comparison of ETFs to stocks in terms of liquidity is crucial. ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day, providing flexibility for investors, especially important for young investors who may need to react quickly to market changes.

    • The advantage of intraday trading with ETF shares, similar to stocks, adds another layer of flexibility for investors.

  3. Low Fees:

    • The article rightly highlights the cost-effectiveness of ETFs. Generally, they have lower expense ratios than mutual funds, and the availability of commission-free ETFs from many online brokers is emphasized. This is particularly beneficial for young investors managing smaller accounts.
  4. Investment Management Choice:

    • ETFs empower investors to choose their preferred investment management style, whether passive (index investing) or active. The suggestion for young investors to start with a passive approach aligns with a gradual transition to a more active style as their knowledge grows.

    • The mention of sector ETFs, inverse ETFs, and leveraged ETFs provides insight into the advanced portfolio management strategies that ETFs can facilitate.

  5. Keeping Up With Trends:

    • The dynamic and innovative nature of ETF issuers, responding rapidly to market trends, is highlighted. This aligns with the appeal of ETFs to young investors who may be drawn to emerging investment trends.

    • The historical context of the first ETF launched in Canada in 1990 and the subsequent introduction of innovative products, such as commodity ETFs during the 2003-2007 boom, adds depth to understanding the evolution of ETFs.

In conclusion, the article effectively communicates the benefits of ETFs for young investors, emphasizing diversification, liquidity, low fees, investment management choice, and innovation. These factors collectively make ETFs a compelling option for those looking to enter the world of investments with limited capital and a desire for flexibility.

Why ETF Investing Is Ideal for Young Investors (2024)

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