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Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Nov. 8, 2013

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are SEC-registered investment companies that offer investors a way to pool their money in a fund that invests in stocks, bonds, or other assets. In return, investors receive an interest in the fund.  Most ETFs are professionally managed by SEC-registered investment advisers.  Some ETFs are passively-managed funds that seek to achieve the same return as a particular market index (often called index funds), while others are actively managed funds that buy or sell investments consistent with a stated investment objective.  

ETFs are not mutual funds.  But, they combine features of a mutual fund, which can only be purchased or redeemed at the end of each trading day at its NAV per share, with the ability to trade throughout the day on a national securities exchange at market prices.  Before investing in an ETF, you should read its summary prospectus and its full prospectus, which provide detailed information on the ETF’s investment objective, principal investment strategies, risks, costs, and historical performance (if any).

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The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has provided this information as a service to investors.  It is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of SEC policy.  If you have questions concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.

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