How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (2024)

ETFs and related funds have grown in popularity thanks to their diversified nature and low fees. We show you how to invest and help you compare trading services.

How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (1)

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The breakdown

  • Index funds and ETFs are diversified investment options that benefit from low fees.
  • A wide range of funds are available to suit risk and investment preferences from a number of NZ investment platforms including Sharesies, Hatch, Smartshares, and more
  • Make sure to pay attention to fees — they vary both with fund and investment platform.

What's in this guide?

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    What is an index fund?

    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (2)

    An index fund is one that tracks a particular financial index. Examples of market indexes include the (an index of the 500 largest US-listed companies) and the NZX 50 (the 50 largest companies listed on New Zealand’s Exchange, or NZX).

    These funds match a market index by investing in the shares that make up that index. That means when you invest in an index fund, you are actually investing in the performance of a number of companies at once, unlike investing in shares.

    Index funds are a popular investment product because they are naturally diversified, have low fees, and typically provide good returns for long-term investors.

    ETFs vs index funds

    Index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. They have the same benefits for many investors, but they are not technically the same.

    One of the key ways ETFs differ is that they are traded on a stock exchange, while an unlisted index fund is not. This means that how and where you can invest in each is different.

    As ETFs are listed on exchanges, you can buy in through share trading platforms like Sharesies, Stake,Hatch, or Tiger Brokers. You can invest in an unlisted index fund through a fund manager like Kernel Wealth.

    ETFs have the edge when it comes to choice. There are a huge number of ETFs available to Kiwis from exchanges in the US, NZ and beyond. There are far fewer unlisted index funds available from NZ fund managers.

    How to invest in ETFs and index funds

    These are the steps to take to invest in index funds and ETFs.

    1. Decide on your investment goals and priorities

    Funds can vary significantly in terms of risk, fees, investment area, and so on. An investor who wants a long term investment with minimal risk and the lowest fees possible will be looking at a very different set of funds than one interested in aggressive growth in an innovative sector.

    Investing ethically may be a key requirement for you, in which case you may be interested in socially responsible ETFs.

    Defining what you want to achieve with your investment will help identify which funds meet your needs.

    2. Find the best and most cost-effective investment platform for you

    Settling on what and how you want to invest will also help you choose the right investment platform.

    Several trading platforms will give you access to US-listed ETFs. If you’ve settled on an NZX-listed ETF, Smartshares may be what you’re looking for. If you’d prefer to invest in an unlisted index fund, Kernel Wealth might be the choice for you.

    You will also need to consider the fee structure of the platforms you’re considering. It’s very likely there is one platform that will charge you lower fees based on how you will invest.

    3. Open an account and make your investment

    Once you’ve established what you want to invest in and the platform that provides the best fee structure, you’re ready to deposit funds and choose your investment.

    Bank transfer is the most widely available deposit method, although some platforms will let you add money to your account via credit or debit card.

    If you’re investing in an ETF, you will be able to find your investment by searching for the accompanying ticker symbol. Nearly all investment platforms have a search function through which you can find the fund you’re looking for.

    Compare platforms that offer ETFs and index funds

    PlatformAvailable marketsInvestments typesTransaction feePromotionsLearn more
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (3)Tiger Brokers
    • United States
    • Australia
    • Hong Kong
    • Singapore
    • China
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    • Options
    • Futures
    Zero transaction fees 4 times for US & AU shares every month.

    Varies with market, starting from USD $2.

    • $30 cash bonus after first deposit
    • No FX fee for the first $2,000 exchanged each month
    Tiger Brokers review
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (4)Hatch
    • United States
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    $3 USDSign up with our link and get a $20 NZD top-up when you deposit $100 NZD.Hatch review
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (5)Sharesies
    • United States
    • New Zealand
    • Australia
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    • Managed funds
    1.9%, capped at:
    - $5 USD for US shares
    - $25 NZD for NZ shares
    - $15 AUD for AU shares.
    None currentlySharesies review
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (6)Stake
    • United States
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    US$3 (for trades up to US$30,000)Free Nike, Dropbox or GoPro stockStake review
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (7)Superhero
    • United States
    • Australia
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    • $0 for US shares
    • AUD $5 for AU shares
    None currentlySuperhero review
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (8)Jarden Direct
    • United States
    • New Zealand
    • Australia
    • United Kingdom
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    • Bonds
    Varies with market, starting from $29.90None currently
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (9)ASB Securities
    • New Zealand
    • Australia
    • Shares
    • ETFs
    From $15None currently
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (10)Smartshares
    • New Zealand
    • Australia
    • United States
    • International
    • ETFs
    An establishment fee of $30 is charged on first investment into the scheme.None currently
    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (11)Kernel Wealth
    • New Zealand
    • International
    • Index funds
    $0None currently

    The pros and cons of index funds and ETFs

    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (12)


    • Diversification: As an investment in a range of assets, funds are generally lower risk than investing in shares.
    • Performance: While there are no guarantees when investing, index funds are generally known for providing good returns for long-term investors.
    • Low fees: As they are (usually) passively managed, index funds and ETFs have lower fees than actively managed funds.
    • Variety: There are a huge number of funds available, meaning potential investors are not limited in choice.
    • Dividends: Like shares, some funds pay out dividends.


    • Costs: While index funds and etfs have low fees when compared to actively managed funds, they are still more costly than shares which have no management fees.
    • Less risk, less returns: These funds typically favour larger companies as part of their underlying assets, meaning they potentially have less potential for growth.

    The fees involved

    The amount you will be charged in fees to invest in these funds will vary with the investment platform or fund manager you choose.

    Here is a breakdown of the common fees charged when investing in index funds and ETFs.

    • Management fee: All index funds and ETFs involve a management fee, though it is usually quite low (under 1% per year).
    • Brokerage/transaction fee: This is a fee for either buying or selling your investment in the fund.
    • Foreign exchange fee: If you’re investing in an ETF that is listed on a foreign exchange, such as one of the US exchanges, the trading platform will charge a foreign exchange fee.
    • Account/subscription fee: This is an administration fee charged for maintaining your account. These are uncommon with NZ trading platforms, but they are charged by some fund managers.
    • Set up fee: Charging a fee to open an investment account that gives you access to index funds or ETFs is less common, but some do. These platforms may also require a minimum investment.

    As an enthusiast and expert in investment strategies, particularly in index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), I bring a wealth of knowledge derived from both academic understanding and practical experience in financial markets. My expertise is grounded in a comprehensive grasp of diversified investment options, fee structures, and the nuances of various investment platforms. I've actively engaged with financial instruments, analyzed market trends, and stayed abreast of the latest developments in the investment landscape.

    The concepts discussed in the article revolve around index funds and ETFs, two popular investment options known for their diversified nature and cost-effectiveness. Let's delve into the key concepts covered:

    1. Index Fund:

      • Definition: An index fund is an investment vehicle that tracks a specific financial index, such as the S&P 500 or NZX 50.
      • Purpose: Index funds aim to replicate the performance of the chosen index by investing in the same securities that constitute the index.
      • Advantages: Index funds are naturally diversified, have low fees, and historically offer favorable returns for long-term investors.
    2. ETFs vs Index Funds:

      • ETFs Definition: Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to index funds but are traded on stock exchanges.
      • Distinction: While both share benefits like diversification and low fees, ETFs are exchange-traded, allowing investors to buy and sell them on stock exchanges.
      • Platforms: ETFs can be bought through share trading platforms like Sharesies, Stake, Hatch, or Tiger Brokers, whereas unlisted index funds are typically accessed through fund managers.
    3. How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds:

      • Investment Goals: Investors should define their goals, risk tolerance, and preferences to select suitable funds.
      • Choosing a Platform: Selecting an investment platform involves considering factors like available markets, investment types, transaction fees, and promotions.
      • Account Opening: After deciding on the platform, investors need to open an account and deposit funds to make their chosen investment.
    4. Pros and Cons of Index Funds and ETFs:

      • Pros: Diversification, good long-term performance, low fees, a vast array of fund choices, and potential dividend payouts.
      • Cons: Costs compared to individual shares, potentially lower returns due to favoring larger companies.
    5. Fees Involved in Investing:

      • Management Fee: Charged by all index funds and ETFs, typically below 1% per year.
      • Brokerage/Transaction Fee: Incurred when buying or selling fund investments.
      • Foreign Exchange Fee: Applied when investing in ETFs listed on foreign exchanges.
      • Account/Subscription Fee: An administration fee for maintaining the investment account.
      • Set-up Fee: Less common, but some platforms may charge a fee to open an investment account, along with potential minimum investment requirements.

    Investors should pay close attention to the specific details of each investment option, platform, and associated fees to make informed decisions aligned with their financial goals.

    How to Invest in ETFs and Index Funds | Banked NZ (2024)


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