STEPHEN CRANSTON: New products and ease of JSE trading make ETFs viable investments
Demand for exchange traded funds is rising in SA but few are available on unit trust platforms
Nerina Visser, along with Mike Brown, runs etfSA, a broker that specialises in exchange traded funds (ETFs). She faces two problems in the market. One is that many people still confuse ETFs with electronic fund transfers (EFTs), or internet-based money transfers. The other is that the term ETFs is often used interchangeably with index funds. Some advisers believe they have access to all the index products they need through standard unit trusts.
What makes ETFs different is that they are traded on the JSE. While unit trusts are priced just once a day, bids and offers for ETFs are taken throughout the trading day. The problem has been that this has been the preserve of stockbrokers. Financial advisers, who invest the vast majority of private money, are rarely qualified to deal in securities (and rightly so). But these are not common or garden securities — they pool a portfolio of shares, making them conceptually no different from unit trusts.