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With stock market volatility, investors can feel some trepidation when deciding where and how to invest their money. Incorporating low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs) into long-term investment strategies can provide a viable solution for those looking to safeguard their portfolios from unanticipated risks —without sacrificing returns. In this blog post, we will discuss practical ways to minimize market risk through investments in ETFs.

What Are ETFs and How Do They Work?

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, have grown in popularity in recent years as a way for investors to diversify their portfolios while minimizing risk. Put simply, ETFs are a type of investment fund that holds a basket of assets – such as stocks, bonds, or commodities – and trades like a single stock on a stock exchange. Investors can buy and sell shares of an ETF throughout the trading day, giving them greater flexibility than traditional mutual funds. With the added benefit of transparency, investors can easily track ETF holdings, which are reported daily on the fund’s website, including the type of assets held and the level of diversification within the basket of assets.

Another advantage of ETFs is that they typically have low expense ratios, making them a cost-effective choice for investors. ETFs are also generally more tax-efficient than mutual funds since they typically have lower turnover rates, generating fewer taxable capital gains. In summary, ETFs are an attractive investment tool for investors seeking to diversify their portfolios, especially for those looking to minimize risk and reduce fees.

Questions to Ask When Choosing an ETF

As an investor, it can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing an ETF as there are several options available. Here are some questions to consider when choosing an ETF:

1. What is the ETF’s objective?

ETFs can have various objectives and focus on different sectors, countries, or investment styles. Before investing, it is imperative to understand the ETF’s objective and determine if it aligns with your investment goals.

2. What is the ETF’s expense ratio?

The expense ratio is the fee charged by ETF managers for managing your investments. It is essential to be aware of the expense ratio as it can impact your returns. Lower expense ratios are preferable as they provide greater returns.

3. What is the ETF’s liquidity?

Liquidity refers to how quickly you can buy or sell your ETF shares. Highly liquid ETFs are easier to buy or sell without affecting the market price. Low liquidity, on the other hand, can result in larger spreads between the bid and ask price, making it more expensive to trade.

4. What is the ETF’s performance history?

An ETF’s historical performance can give you an idea of how it has performed in the past. While past performance is not an indicator of future returns, it can give you an idea of how the ETF has reacted during different market conditions.

5. What is the ETF’s underlying assets?

It is essential to investigate how the underlying assets relate to the ETFs objectives because it can affect your returns. The underlying assets can vary, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, or a combination.

Different Types of ETFs and Their Benefits

ETFs closely mirror the performance of a specific market or index. There are various types of ETFs available to investors, each with its own unique benefits.

1. Bond ETFs

Bond ETFs are a popular choice for investors looking to add stability and diversification to their portfolio. These funds invest in a basket of bonds, giving investors exposure to a variety of fixed-income securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, and municipal bonds. One of the major benefits of bond ETFs is their ability to provide consistent income through the interest payments made by the underlying bonds. This makes them an attractive option for investors looking for a source of passive income. Additionally, bond ETFs can help to reduce overall portfolio risk by offsetting the more volatile returns of equity investments. Another advantage of bond ETFs is their liquidity. Since they trade on major stock exchanges, investors can buy and sell shares at any time during the trading day, making them more easily accessible than traditional mutual funds.

2. Equity ETFs

Equity ETFs offer investors the potential for higher returns, albeit with increased risk. Equity ETFs invest in a basket of stocks, providing exposure to a particular market segment or index. They offer the same flexibility as bond ETFs, with shares trading on major stock exchanges throughout the day, allowing investors to buy and sell at any time. One of the significant advantages of equities ETFs is their ability to diversify across numerous stocks, reducing individual company risk and exposure to volatility.

Additionally, they provide investors with access to a vast array of investment options, including domestic and international equities, sector-specific funds, and thematic investments. This allows investors to construct a highly tailored portfolio that aligns with their specific risk and return objectives. Moreover, equity ETFs offer transparency, as investors can easily see the underlying stocks held within the fund’s basket. Furthermore, equity ETFs provide tax efficiency to investors through the use of in-kind redemptions. This allows the fund manager to redeem securities to settle fund shares, reducing capital gains taxes for investors. Investors should exercise caution when investing in equities ETFs, as they do carry more substantial risk than bond ETFs.

3. Sector ETFs

Sector ETFs as the name implies, invest in a particular sector of the economy, such as healthcare, technology, or energy. These types of funds offer investors an opportunity to gain exposure to a specific industry or segment without having to purchase individual stocks. By owning a diversified portfolio of stocks in a sector, investors can benefit from the growth potential of that segment while minimizing the risks associated with owning a single stock.

One of the primary benefits of sector ETFs is their ability to add diversification to a portfolio. As previously mentioned, owning a basket of stocks in a particular sector provides investors with exposure to several companies within that industry, reducing the risk associated with owning a single stock.

Additionally, sector ETFs offer investors the opportunity to invest in specific areas of the economy that they believe have the most potential for growth. Sector ETFs also offer investors the potential for higher returns. While they do carry specific risks associated with investing in a specific industry, sector ETFs can provide substantial returns for investors who do their research and pick the right sectors to invest in. For example, the technology sector has consistently outperformed the broader market in recent years, providing investors with high returns on their investments. Investors should exercise caution when investing in sector ETFs, as they do carry risks associated with investing in a specific sector.

4. International ETFs

International ETFs are a popular choice for investors looking to diversify their portfolios globally. These types of funds provide exposure to foreign markets and can help investors take advantage of growth opportunities in countries outside their domestic market. International ETFs invest in a basket of stocks or bonds from companies outside the investor’s home country, providing exposure to multiple economies and reducing the risks associated with investing in a single country.

One of the primary benefits of international ETFs is their ability to provide highly diversified exposure to numerous foreign markets, reducing unsystematic risk. Investors can benefit from exposure to global growth opportunities and diversification across different sectors and economies in a single investment. These funds can provide returns that are not correlated to domestic equity markets, providing a hedge against domestic economic downturns.

Another advantage of international ETFs is their ability to provide investors with exposure to emerging markets. Emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and China, offer investors opportunities for higher potential returns than developed markets. These markets are often driven by population growth, increases in consumer spending, and other factors related to rapid economic expansion. However, investing in these markets can also carry substantial risk. International ETFs allow investors to gain exposure to these markets without having to undertake the risks associated with the individual investments. It is important to note that investing in international ETFs does carry some challenges such as currency risk and different regulations and practices.

How do you invest in an ETF?

With such an extensive range of ETF options available, investors can tailor their investments to suit their individual preferences and goals. To invest in an ETF, first evaluate your goals and risk tolerance. Conducting research and consulting with a financial advisor can help you better understand the various ETF options and select the one that aligns with your investment objectives.

It is important to note that an ETF’s performance is not necessarily guaranteed, and like any investment, it carries risk. Before investing in an ETF, it is essential to conduct thorough research and consider how the investment will align with your overall financial plan.

Members Trust Company works with credit unions to provide investment management services to credit union members nationwide. If you’re interested in investing in ETFs, give us a call at (888) 727-9191. We will connect you with a local credit union financial advisor who will help you start the investment process. After discussing your goals and risk tolerance, our representative will recommend an ETF model based on your specific needs.

In summary, choosing an ETF requires careful consideration of various factors. By asking the right questions and doing thorough research, you can select an ETF that aligns with your investment goals. To learn more about our investment strategy, visit Wealth Management or watch this short video:

Non-deposit investment products available through Members Trust Company are not deposits of or guaranteed by the trust company, a credit union or credit union affiliate, are not insured or guaranteed by the NCUA, FDIC or any other governmental agency and are subject to investment risks including possible loss of the principal amount invested. Members Trust Company, owned and managed by America’s credit unions, is a special purpose federal thrift regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Past performance is not indicative of future results. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice regarding your situation. For legal or tax advice, please consult your attorney and/or accountant. Any opinions expressed are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the position of Members Trust Company. The information above is obtained or compiled from sources we believe to be reliable. We Do Not Guarantee that such information, will be free from errors, omissions, whether human or mechanical, nor do we guarantee their timeliness, accuracy, or completeness.