The Do’s And Don’ts Of Trading ETFs

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have seen immense growth over the past decade. There are a multitude of benefits, including transparency, tax efficiency and the ability to make intraday trades, that have contributed to the use and growth of ETFs. While these are all beneficial to investors, we continue to see questions around ETF trading. Although ETFs do trade on-exchange like stocks, investors have to understand that ETFs trade differently and that ETF execution is an imperative part of investing that should not be minimized.

Many investors know that when evaluating an ETF, average daily volume (ADV) does not indicate the true liquidity of an ETF. The liquidity of an ETF resides in its underlying securities, but how does one access that to ensure smooth execution?

Let’s discuss the do’s and the don’ts of how to best trade an ETF.

The Don’ts


1. Don’t trade in the first or last 15 minutes of the trading day. This is when trade desks have less transparency and markets are more volatile.

2. Don’t place market orders; if you want to trade electronically, place limit orders. We advise investors to always use limit orders, especially in times of volatility. We also advise investors to not use stop-loss orders that turn into market orders. 

The second point is especially important to focus on because many investors can make costly mistakes by simply “throwing in a market order.” Let’s take a look at an example that illustrates this point.

Figure 1

USFR trading_DONT

Figure 1 shows an investor who wanted to purchase The WisdomTree Bloomberg Floating Rate Treasury Fund (USFR). Instead of utilizing his or her resources and working with a trading desk, he or she carelessly entered in a market order that spiked the graph up nearly 11%. That is an extremely costly mistake that he or she will have to share with clients. The underlying securities are U.S. Treasury floating rate notes, which are extremely liquid, with an outstanding issuance of $342 billion as of May 31, 2018.1

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Disclaimer: Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Funds before investing. U.S. investors only: To obtain a prospectus containing this ...

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