Understanding the ETF Liquidity Ecosystem

Investors who own non-liquid ETFs may have difficulty selling them at the price they want. At WealthDesk, we offer you readymade WealthBaskets consisting of stocks or ETFs reflecting an investment strategy or theme designed explicitly by the SEBI-approved investment professionals and make your investment journey hassle-free. Because ETFs have the same trading flexibility as stocks, short-term traders can use ETFs to quickly move in and out of a position. But ETFs are also a cost-efficient way to build a long-term, core portfolio. Investments in Betashares Funds are subject to investment risk and the value of units may go up and down.

Are shares of ETFs liquid

On the secondary market, ETF shares with higher trading volume and tighter spreads are usually more liquid. As with any financial security, not all ETFs have the same level of liquidity. An ETF’s liquidity is affected by the securities that it holds, the trading volume of the securities held, the trading volume of the ETF itself, and the investment environment.

Bid-ask spreads are a key measure of the liquidity of an asset or security. ETFs provide numerous advantages and are a fantastic vehicle for achieving investing objectives. ETFs are available in almost every asset class, from standard investments to alternative assets such as commodities or currencies. Low liquidity of an ETF can lead to higher trading costs or difficulty in buying or selling the ETF. An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a collection of assets that trades on an exchange. The funds described in the following pages can be marketed in certain jurisdictions only.

Understanding the ETF Liquidity Ecosystem

The management fees for most ETFs tend to be much lower than mutual funds, which means more money can be put towards a potential return. As an example, iShares Core ETFs average about one-tenth the net expense ratio of most mutual funds.1 The impact of these cost savings can be meaningful, particularly over time or when market returns are low. This unique creation and redemption mechanism means that ETF liquidity is much deeper and much more dynamic than stock liquidity. It also explains why an ETF‘s liquidity is predominantly determined by the liquidity of its underlying individual securities, rather than by the size of its assets or by trading volumes. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offer many benefits to investors, including flexible intraday trading, efficient market access and potentially lower costs.

The most apparent source of liquidity for ETF is trading activity, although it is not the only one. The average daily volume of shares moved in the secondary market amongst traders adds to an ETF’s liquidity. Investing in ETFs can offer a range of benefits, including simplicity, low cost, transparency, diversification and flexibility. Consider ETFs as a way of accessing the best of mutual funds and individual stocks. We conduct a panel analysis to assess whether market-wide stress has an effect on ETF arbitrage, as measured by share creation and redemption. In the case of shares, you can usually tell that liquidity is low when the trading volumes are limited.


Investors tend to be complacent with respect to counterparty risk in normal market conditions and react with sizeable selling (and ensuing redemption) activity when counterparty risk increases in stressed market conditions. This might contribute to amplifying the effects of materialising counterparty risk on financial stability. ETFs typically trade at narrow bid-ask spreads and close to their NAV (see Charts A and B).

One example is the technology sector, which has witnessed an influx of funds in recent years. At the same time, the downside of volatile stock performance is also curtailed in an ETF because they do not involve direct ownership of securities. Industry ETFs are also used to rotate in and out of sectors during economic cycles.

Liquidity risk in ETFs

One day, a breakthrough invention in solar energy creates waves of excitement in the market. Investors move to buy shares of GreenTech ETF to capitalize on this trend. The sudden surge in demand could drive the share price of the ETF sky-high, deviating from the actual value of the underlying assets or its NAV.

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Investors should be aware that many inverse ETFs are exchange-traded notes (ETNs) and not true ETFs. An ETN is a bond but trades like a stock and is backed by an issuer such as a bank. Be sure to check with your broker to determine if an ETN is a good fit for your portfolio. Currency ETFs are pooled investment vehicles that track the performance of currency pairs, consisting of domestic and foreign currencies. They can be used to speculate on the prices of currencies based on political and economic developments for a country. They are also used to diversify a portfolio or as a hedge against volatility in forex markets by importers and exporters.

Are shares of ETFs liquid

If an ETF does not trade enough, it may not be easy to pull out the investment to convert into cash. You may leave this website when you access certain links on this website. BlackRock has not examined any of third-party websites and does not assume any responsibility for the contents of such websites nor the services, products or items offered through such websites. Neither party should be liable to the other for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the other party due to any cause beyond the first party’s reasonable control including without limitation any power failure.

While the shares of ETFs are tradable on secondary markets, they may not readily trade in all market conditions and may trade at significant discounts in periods of market how to choose liquidity provider stress. The demand for such assets in the stock market determines the price spread. Existing shares or redemption or issue of new shares complete large orders.

Alternatively, another stock for ABC, Inc. has a low trading volume and a wide bid-ask spread of $2.00, indicating low liquidity. Here, buying or selling ABC shares would not receive prices as favorable, and trading large amounts could noticeably change the price. Through this simplified example, it’s evident how liquidity impacts the ease of trading and the stability of the market price, highlighting its importance in investment decisions. ETFs are more liquid than mutual funds since they trade on the stock exchanges. They can trade like stocks without any redemption process or a lock-in period. The different findings for bond and equity ETFs could be due to the fact that underlying bond markets have higher limits to arbitrage, as bonds are typically less liquid than equities.

  • The supply of ETF shares is regulated through a mechanism known as creation and redemption, which involves large specialized investors called authorized participants (APs).
  • Shorting is selling a stock, expecting a decline in value, and repurchasing it at a lower price.
  • Further information is available in the relevant fund’s offering documents.
  • The result can lead to investors not being able to easily buy and sell shares of a low-volume ETF.

Second, given the specificities of ETFs a dedicated regulatory framework could be envisaged. In the United States, an ETF-specific rule was proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2018. In any case, a decision on the appropriate action should take into account whether financial stability risks can be sufficiently addressed.

Conversely, ETFs tracking obscure or less liquid indexes may face liquidity challenges, as the underlying assets might be harder to trade, affecting the efficiency of the creation and redemption process. State Street launched the first US-listed ETF in 1993 — the SPDR® S&P 500® ETF (SPY). Since then, ETFs have become an increasingly popular investment vehicle for both individual https://www.xcritical.com/ and institutional investors. Improving education about how ETFs are structured and traded is vital to helping investors understand the potential benefits of investing in ETFs, including the multiple layers of liquidity they offer. You can better define ETF liquidity by accessing the liquidity of the underlying securities rather than by monitoring the investors’ activities.

Secondary market liquidity is determined primarily by the volume of ETF shares traded. The choice of the index or sector tracked by an ETF can significantly affect its liquidity. If an ETF tracks a well-known, widely followed index with liquid underlying assets, it’s likely to have better liquidity.