Many investors in the UK consider ETFs and stocks to be two of the safest options for investing. However, it is essential to understand that each has unique pros and cons, varying significantly. ETFs offer broad market exposure with minimal trading costs but can lack personalised risk management strategies. Stocks, however, provide greater potential returns but require much more personal risk management knowledge and experience. Ultimately, it is up to individual investors to decide which option fits best with their financial goals and investment strategy.
Table of Contents
Benefits of trading stocks over ETFs
Investing in stocks over ETFs can be a much more profitable and efficient strategy for those knowledgeable about the markets and with the necessary risk management skills. Stocks offer four distinct advantages that ETFs do not.
Greater potential for returns
Stocks offer the potential for much greater returns than ETFs. By investing in individual stocks, investors can buy shares of companies they believe will outperform the market. It enables them to benefit from any profits these companies make and can result in substantial gains over time. Additionally, with many of the best buy-and-hold stocks being dividend-paying, investors also receive regular payments, which can further enhance their overall returns.
Trading stocks also provides several tax advantages when compared to ETFs. Dividend payouts from certain stocks may be eligible for reduced tax rates for qualified shareholders, and capital gains taxes may also be lower if profits are made from buy-and-hold stocks. Furthermore, investors can also take advantage of tax-loss harvesting, which allows them to offset gains made in other areas with losses made on buying and selling shares.
The ability to buy fractional shares
Another benefit when trading stocks over ETFs is the ability to buy fractional shares. Therefore, investors are no longer restricted by the price of each share; instead, they can purchase a much smaller portion of a share than what would have been possible before. It opens up access to a much more comprehensive range of investments and enables even those with limited funds to invest and diversify their portfolios.
Easier online trading
Stocks have become much easier to buy and sell online. With the emergence of online trading platforms, investors can buy stocks with just a few clicks. It has made it much simpler for those new to investing to buy shares online without opening an account at a traditional brokerage firm. In addition, these platforms often offer a range of educational resources and tools to help investors make informed decisions.
Risks these two assets have in common
Despite the advantages of trading stocks over ETFs, some risks are still associated with both assets. It is essential to be aware of these and mitigate them as much as possible to protect your investment.
Both stocks and ETFs are subject to market volatility. Therefore, they can both go up or down in value very quickly, making them a risky proposition for those who do not have the necessary knowledge and experience to manage their risk. As with any investment, it is vital to research each asset thoroughly before investing, keep a close eye on the markets, and take additional measures to protect your investments, such as diversification.
When investing in stocks, investors are also exposed to company-specific risks. Therefore, if there is a change in management or a drop in the value of the underlying assets of a particular business, investors may find themselves losing money. On the other hand, ETFs are generally less prone to this kind of risk as they comprise multiple assets and often track indices or sectors.
Stocks and ETFs can be traded using leverage, essentially borrowing money to buy more assets than you would otherwise be able to buy. Leverage can result in large profits if used correctly, but it also increases the risk of losses should the markets move against your position. As such, ensuring you have the necessary knowledge and experience to use leverage wisely is crucial.