Understanding the basics of investments also includes knowing the discrepancy between index funds, a type of investment done via a mutual fund, and an ETF known as an exchange-traded fund. Most traders do not know the differences between index funds and ETFs. In some cases traders tend to think they are the same, however, that is not true. Exchange-traded funds and Index funds are two different things. There are a lot of things that differ ETFs from index funds. This article will be focused on analyzing index funds vs. ETF.

What are Index Funds?

Index funds are funds that depict the theoretical component of the market. They are structured to function as the performance and make-up of a tradable market index. The index is not a form of investment, but index funds are a form of investment. By investing in index funds a trader uses a type of passive investment that establishes rules by which stocks are involved, the stocks are trailed without trying to win against them. These categories of funds follow a benchmark for index, just like the Nasdaq 100 or S&P 500. Unlike actively managed funds, index funds have lower commissions and expenses.

An index fund is a category of mutual funds that trails the performance of a market index. It could be the Russell 2000, MSCI EAFE, or the S&P 500, this is why they are called index funds. Index funds are easy to invest in because it is cost-effective and has no original strategy, therefore, it does not need active management.

What is an exchange traded fund?

ETFs are bundles of assets that are traded like securities. They are purchased and sold on a public exchange, just like conventional stocks.

Simply put, an ETF is an investment portfolio that allows traders to buy and sell in an exchange market. It is similar to trading stocks, or any other conventional trade.

However, ETFs are not represented with a share within a company, rather they are represented by stocks, bonds, commodities, options, or a combination of both two assets. ETFs can either trail an index or trail a market anomaly.

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Index Fund VS. ETF

Even Though they have a variety of tradable assets, ETF investment is more similar to stock trading than index funds. Similar to stocks, ETFs are listed in the exchange markets. They also have high liquidity, this means they can be bought and sold during the day just like stocks and shares. Their prices fluctuate intermittently. ETFs do not trail only index, the investment covers both industries, commodities, and even other funds.

Differences Between Index Funds And ETFS

There are so many discrepancies between mutual funds and ETFs. They include:

  • ETFs are associated with the costs of each asset, while mutual funds do not have any transaction costs. However, costs like taxation and management fees are charged lower for EFTs. When it comes to cost comparison, most retail traders pick index mutual funds over ETFs. This choice is based on the fees between the two assets. However, most traders seem to prefer ETFs irrespective of the costs.
  • ETFs can be traded in the daytime, which means ETFs can be bought and sold at a given price. Index funds can only be traded based on the fixed value point at the close of a day’s trade.
  • ETFs trades are more flexible and more convenient compared to index funds. ETFs can be easily traded, compared to index funds and conventional mutual funds.
  • Traders also allowed purchasing ETFs in smaller sizes and with fewer difficulties, unlike index funds. Buying ETFs helps traders to avoid the opening of unique accounts and documentation that come with trading index funds.

Similarities Between ETFS & Multual Funds

Most traders tend to confuse index funds for ETFs. This is because they both have similar characteristics and they are both passive investments that are structured to mirror the performance of other trading instruments.

  • ETFs and index funds both represent stocks and bonds that are professionally managed and tracked.
  • These two types of investment are less risky than investing in personal stocks and bonds.
  • ETFs and index funds are both diversified types of investment. This is because they can track the performance of stocks, bonds, etc. One index fund can comprise about ten, hundreds, or even thousands of normal stocks or bonds. In a case where one stock has low performance, the other stocks will be performing well. This helps in reducing the trader’s risk by a huge percentage.
  • Both index funds and ETFs offer different types of investment options. They also have access to a wide range of the U.S and international stocks and bonds. You can invest widely or narrowly or even in between. It all depends on your trading plan and your strategy. Some trading platforms provide more than 75 ETFs and 160 index funds.
  • Both ETFs and Index funds are managed by professional investment managers. EFTs and index funds are overseen by experienced investment managers. These managers pick and survey the stocks or bonds invested in, thereby saving the trader time and effort. The managers ensure that the investment stays on track, and does not deviate from their target indexes.
  • Both investments are commission-free. Most brokers do not charge a commission for the Trading of ETFs and index funds.

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Do ETFS or index Funds Have A Good Profitability?

The historic price data of ETFs and index funds shows that the investments have performed tremendously well. However, it is advisable to cross-check the total cost of each and correlate them before deciding on the one to invest in.

ETFS VS Index Funds, Which Is Safer?

None is safer than the other. Both ETF and index funds have their risks. It all depends on the trader’s strategy and plan. Stocks are riskier than bonds, but it has a higher profit potential on investment.


ETFs and Index funds have a lot of similarities just as they have a lot of disparities. They are not these same types of investment despite their similarities. They both have different trading structures. They are highly lucrative and have proven to have good profit potential. However, traders are advised to make diligent research before any form of investment.