In this video, learn about the five biggest mistakes that investors make when buying ETFs, or exchange-traded funds. To learn the basics about ETFs, visit https://www.fidelity.com/learning-center/investment-products/etf/overview.
To get started investing with ETFs, visit https://www.fidelity.com/etfs/overview
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Let’s talk about the five biggest mistakes investors can make when buying exchange-traded funds. ETFs can be good tools for investors - when used appropriately. But with any investment, there are always things to watch out for.
Number 1: Buying the Hot New Thing
More than 100 new ETF products launch each year, many of them chasing the latest hot trend. Cloud computing, driverless cars, 3-D printing … you name it, there’s an ETF for that.
Buying into the latest hot theme might make you big returns, but take care: These product launches may come after there has been a run up in the market. Buying at the top can be painful on the way down.
Number 2: Buying Something You Don’t Understand
The only thing worse than chasing the hottest trend is buying something you don’t understand. ETFs have taken institutional strategies and made them push-button-easy for everyday investors to access. Want access to commodity futures? There’s an ETF for that. 300% leverage? 200% short? Interest-rate carry plays? Yes to all. But just because you can buy something easily doesn’t mean you should. All of these funds may be good tools, but only if you know how to use them correctly.
Number 3: Thinking All ETFs Are Created Equal
Consider China. At the start of 2014, there were more than a dozen broad-based China ETFs. For example, had you chosen PGJ, the PowerShares Golden Dragon China ETF, at the start of the year, you would have lost more than 7% of your money. Had you instead chosen ASHR, the Deutsche Xtrackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF, you would have earned a 51% return. Both are “China ETFs.” Both can provide big, diversified portfolios. But ASHR has significant exposure to Chinese Ashares—largely consumer-focused stocks listed and traded on the domestic Chinese market— which performed spectacularly well in 2014. Don’t assume all ETFs are created equal. Just because two ETFs cover the same market doesn’t mean they provide the same exposure or returns.
There’s no guarantee which fund will perform better in the future. But if you wanted to invest last year in the growth of the Chinese consumer and the domestic investor base there, a little bit of research would have gone a long way.
Number 4: Trading…Just Because You Can
Trading is central to ETFs. It’s right there in the name. But just because you can trade an ETF intraday doesn’t mean you should. Emotions are often an investor’s worst enemy. You zig when you should zag; you sell at the bottom and buy at the top. We all do sometimes. The trouble is ETFs make that even easier than traditional mutual funds. ETFs’ intraday liquidity can be great when you need to get into or out of the market quickly. But those situations are rare.
Number 5: Only Using Market Orders
When you do invest, consider using a limit order versus a market order. Market orders are instructions to buy or sell securities at the best possible price right now. That can work well for the most liquid ETFs, but as you move beyond the top dozen ETFs, you can find yourself getting trades executed at prices you don’t really want. Using a limit order means you agree to buy an ETF at a certain price or below, and sell it at a certain price or above. A limit order puts the control back in your hands and can help you set the price on your terms. Learn from these common mistakes to help avoid making them yourself.
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