Strategic Investing: ETFs 101

Strategic Investing: ETFs 101

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have become extremely popular with investors because of their flexibility, diversification, and cost-effectiveness. This article is designed to help doctors and healthcare professionals understand ETFs—how they work, their advantages, common strategies, and popular options—so you can make informed decisions when investing for your future.

Understanding ETFs

ETFs are investment funds that trade on stock exchanges, similar to individual stocks. They offer diversification and potentially lower fees by tracking the performance of a market index, sector, commodity, or other assets. The specific holdings of an ETF are usually transparent, allowing investors to understand the underlying investments.


  • Stocks: Individual shares from companies within a particular index or sector
  • Bonds: Various fixed-income securities
  • Commodities: Physical assets like gold, or futures contracts that track the price of commodities like gold or oil
  • Combination: A mix of different asset types to achieve a diversified investment

Types of ETFs

  • Index ETFs: Track a specific market index (such as the S&P 500), offering broad market exposure in a passive way
  • Sector & Industry ETFs: Focus on specific sectors or industries, providing targeted exposure
  • Commodity ETFs: Invest in commodities through futures contracts or physical assets
  • Actively Managed ETFs: Function more like mutual funds, with portfolio managers actively selecting holdings in an attempt to outperform the market

Benefits of Investing in ETFs

Now that we understand how ETFs work, let’s explore why they might be a good fit for busy doctors and healthcare professionals. ETFs offer several advantages that can simplify your investment strategy and potentially help you build wealth for long-term goals.


One of the main advantages of ETFs is their ability to provide instant diversification. By investing in a single ETF, an investor can gain exposure to a broad range of assets, reducing the risk associated with investing in individual securities.

Cost Efficiency

ETFs typically have lower expense ratios compared to mutual funds. For example, in 2023, the average expense ratio of an index ETF was 0.48%, while the average expense ratio for an index mutual fund was 0.81%​.


ETFs can be bought and sold on the stock exchange throughout the trading day at market prices, providing greater liquidity compared to mutual funds, which are traded at the end of the trading day.


ETFs are known for their transparency. Most ETFs disclose their holdings on a daily basis, allowing investors to see exactly what they own.

How ETFs Work

Before diving into investment strategies, let’s take a closer look at how ETFs function. Understanding the mechanics behind ETFs will help you make informed decisions about incorporating them into your portfolio.

Creation & Redemption

ETFs are created and redeemed through a process involving authorized participants (APs). APs create ETFs by buying the underlying assets and exchanging them for ETF shares. Conversely, they can redeem ETF shares for the underlying assets. This mechanism helps maintain the ETF’s price close to its net asset value (NAV).

Market Pricing

Unlike mutual funds, which are priced at the end of the trading day, ETF prices fluctuate throughout the day based on supply and demand. The price of an ETF is influenced by the value of its underlying assets and investor demand.

Key ETF Investment Strategies

Now that you understand the benefits and workings of ETFs, let’s explore some practical strategies you can use to incorporate them into your investment plan.

Buy & Hold Strategy

Buy and Hold is a passive investment strategy that involves purchasing ETFs and holding them for an extended period, typically to benefit from long-term market trends.

Dollar-Cost Averaging

Dollar-cost averaging (DCA) is an investment strategy where an investor divides their total investment amount into periodic purchases of a target ETF. This method can reduce the impact of market volatility by helping investors lower the average cost per share.

Asset Allocation

Asset allocation involves spreading investments across various asset classes to balance risk and reward. Using ETFs, an investor can easily diversify their portfolio across a range of stocks, bonds, and commodities.

Sector Rotation

Sector rotation is a more active investment strategy that entails moving investments between different sectors based on economic cycles. For instance, during a tech boom, an investor might allocate more funds to a technology fund.

Examples of Popular ETFs

With a vast array of ETFs available, choosing the right ones can be overwhelming. This section highlights some popular options across various categories to help you narrow down your search.

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)

The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF tracks the S&P 500 Index, providing exposure to 500 of the largest U.S. companies. As of this article’s publishing, VOO has an expense ratio of 0.03%, making it one of the lowest-cost ETFs available​.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM)

The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, allowing investors to capture growth potential in developing economies. EEM invests in companies across various sectors within these countries.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)

Designed to track the price of gold, SPDR Gold Shares holds gold bullion in secure vaults and offers a way for investors to gain exposure to gold without the complexities of owning physical metal. GLD is often used as a hedge against inflation.

Considerations When Choosing ETFs

ETFs offer a wide range of choices—but with so many options, choosing the right ones can be crucial. This section explores important considerations to keep in mind when selecting ETFs for your portfolio. Additionally, we recommend consulting with a financial professional to help you determine which investment decision is right for your financial goals.

Expense Ratios

Lower expense ratios are crucial for maximizing returns. For example, a difference of 0.50% in expense ratios can significantly impact long-term returns.

Tracking Error

This measures how closely an ETF follows its benchmark index. Lower tracking errors indicate better performance alignment with the index.

Liquidity & Trading Volume

High liquidity and trading volumes indicate that ETFs can be bought and sold easily without significantly affecting their market price.

Tax Efficiency

ETFs are generally more tax-efficient than mutual funds because of their unique structure, which minimizes capital gains distributions.

The Bottom Line: Adding ETFs to Your Investment Portfolio

ETFs offer a cost-efficient method for medical professionals to expand their investment portfolios, mitigate risks, and reach financial objectives. With the wide range of options available, there’s likely an ETF that suits your specific investment strategy. It’s crucial to assess your investment goals and risk tolerance before making any commitments. Staying up-to-date on market changes and consulting with a financial advisor can empower you to make solid investment decisions to secure your future.

Additional Investment Fund Resources

Want to continue exploring your investment options? Check out the rest of the articles in this series to learn more:

The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. For specific financial counsel on investments, we strongly recommend seeking the guidance of a qualified expert.

Published on May 31, 2024

Written by The Influent Staff

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