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Think of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as a variety pack of stocks, bonds and other investments that can add diversification to your portfolio without the same price tag as purchasing the investments individually. ETFs trade on major stock exchanges throughout the day, and the investments in them track specific market indices, sectors or commodities (such as oil).
ETF shares, or units, can be bought and sold on a stock exchange throughout the trading day, just like stocks. They are a one-stop shop for purchasing an underlying asset or asset class.
An ETF's underlying securities are largely determined by the investment objective of the ETF. Some common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies.
ETFs are open-ended, meaning units can be created or redeemed based on investor demand. This process is managed by market makers. A market maker is a trader at a bank or brokerage tasked with making firm bids or offers to ensure liquidity is maintained in the market.
An ETF listed for trading on a Designated Stock Exchange (DSE) is a qualified investment for registered plans. A DSE includes the TSX and other Canadian and U.S. exchanges. You can find a list of DSEs by visiting www.canada.ca and searching "designated stock exchanges."
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide the risks and rewards of the underlying market:
Like stocks, exchange-traded funds are bought and sold on major stock exchanges throughout the trading day, so there is a cost to trade them. At RBC Direct Investing, you'll pay just $9.95 flat CDN or U.S. per online and mobile tradeLegal Disclaimer footnote 5 with no minimum balance or trading activity required. When you make 150+ trades per quarter, you'll pay only $6.95 flat CDN or U.S. per online and mobile equity trade.