While a lot of attention has been placed on the intensifying fee war and the race to zero in the exchange traded fund industry, investors shouldn’t forget that costs are only part of the total picture.
Beyond low fees, investors utilize the ETF investment vehicle for its diversification, ease of exposure, transparency, and intraday pricing, according to Noel Archard, Global Head of SPDR Product, State Street Global Advisors.
“Many of these features tie back to the ways in which ETFs have democratized investing by making previously difficult-to-access market segments available to all. An individual investor can now gain exposure to an entire market segment in one trade, have complete visibility into the underlying securities, and see the real-time market value of their holdings at any point during the day,” Archard said in a note.
Basically, investors can find value in ETFs beyond the low fees.
Archard further argued that an ETF provider should adhere to a disciplined and rigorous commitment to ensuring that investors continue to see each of those benefits in the ETF marketplace.
For example, a fund providers should expand access to market exposures, providing a diversified tool set of various ETF strategies to meet an investor’s growing needs, whether it be investing in simple beta or future technologies, core fixed income, or active total return. Fixed-income and actively managed ETFs have been areas where fund providers can add value as these two segments remain overshadowed by the equity ETF side.
Liquidity has also been a defining characteristic of ETFs as the ability to create and redeem shares through the primary market liquidity of securities within the ETF is one of the most important attributes of the fund structure.
Furthermore, beyond the low expense ratios, investors should consider the total cost of ownership, which includes fees, commissions, the bid-ask spread and other implicit costs.
“The bottom line is, basis points—no matter how low—are only a part of the equation,” Archard added.
For more information on ETFs, visit our ETF 101 category.