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Choosing between ETFs and mutual funds: Strategy, then structure

The right investment balance requires a careful strategy.
By Vanguard
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Mutual funds and ETFs are increasingly popular investment vehicles. They share a lot of similarities; both are pooled vehicles that provide exposure to various markets, diversification, and generally reasonable investment costs. So how do you decide which best supports your client’s investment strategy?

In this research paper, Vanguard experts Joel Dickson, David Kwon, and Jim Rowley delve into how to choose between mutual funds and ETFs. They examine similarities and differences, both perceived and actual, between the two vehicles and the four key factors to consider when deciding between them.

Use this paper to:

  • Discover why investment strategy, trading flexibility, accessibility, and costs are the four key factors to consider when deciding between mutual funds and ETFs.
  • See which investment strategies feature mutual funds more often and which favor ETFs.
  • Examine the similarities and differences between ETF and mutual funds.

Read the whitepaper.


  • All investments are subject to risk, including possible loss of principal.
  • Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
  • Vanguard ETF shares are not redeemable with the issuing Fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. Instead, investors must buy and sell Vanguard ETF shares in the secondary market and hold those shares in a brokerage account. In doing so, the investor may incur brokerage commissions and may pay more than net asset value when buying and receive less than net asset value when selling.  

This article was produced by Vanguard and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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