Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Abusing ETFs

Meyer, Steffen
Bhattacharya, Utpal
Loos, Benjamin
Volume: 21
Number: 3
Pages: 1217 - 1250
ISSN-Print: 1572-3097
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2016
Keywords: Household finance; ETFs; Security selection; Timing

Using data from a large German brokerage, we find that individuals investing in passive exchange-traded funds (ETFs) do not improve their portfolio performance, even before transaction costs. Further analysis suggests that this is because of poor ETF timing as well as poor ETF selection (relative to the choice of low-cost, well-diversified ETFs). An exploration of investor heterogeneity shows that though investors who trade more have worse ETF timing, no groups of investors benefit by using ETFs, and no groups will lose by investing in low-cost, well-diversified ETFs.