Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

Exchange traded funds

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are open-ended investment funds that can be bought and sold on a stock exchange, just like Australian shares. ETFs are usually made up of a basket of assets, which may include Australian shares, international shares, bonds, currencies and derivatives. They enable you to invest in asset classes you may not be able to access directly, making them a great tool for diversifying your portfolio. 

Each ETF is given a stock code and traded on the securities exchanges. They are given a unit price based on the net asset value of the fund. Like shares, ETFs are open-ended and can be bought and sold at any time. Most ETFs are structured to replicate the return of a specific benchmark or index. For example, the S&P/ASX 200 Index, S&P/ASX 300 A-REIT Index, and MSCI World ex-Australia index.

Key features

  • Cost-effective – they can be more cost-effective than directly buying the equivalent portfolio of assets and typically have lower fees than managed funds.

  • Offers diversity – in a single trade you gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of securities or other assets. 

  • International exposure – they can give you exposure to international markets, as well as fixed income and other sectors.

  • Simple – through just one trade, you can potentially invest in global and local markets.

  • Control – you can build your own portfolio across sectors, countries and asset classes using different ETFs.

  • Flexible – they give you liquidity and flexibility to react to changing market conditions. 

  • Competitive brokerage through Westpac – start trading from just $19.95 or 0.11% of the value of the trade (whichever is greater)^.

  • The first ETF was launched in Australia in 2001 and the industry has experienced rapid growth.

Key risks

  • Asset values – ETFs are inextricably linked to the trend of the underlying asset. If the value of the underlying asset falls, the value of the ETF will also fall. 

  • Trades – certain market conditions (for example, lack of liquidity) could make it hard for you to buy or sell ETFs.

  • Asset classes – ETFs that use synthetic investments or derivatives to replicate the performance of an investment could expose you to additional risks and/or losses.

  • Foreign currency volatility – Some ETFs with underlying exposure to international assets may have added currency risk.

  • Geopolitical risks – the political situation in the home country of the market or benchmark could affect the value of the ETF’s assets. 

For more information about ETFs, please refer to the Australian Security Exchange’s Investing in Exchange traded products webpage.

Things you should know

Westpac Securities Limited ABN 39 087 924 221, AFSL 233723 (‘Westpac Securities’) (trading as ‘Westpac Share Trading’) provides the opportunity to trade listed financial products through our arrangement with Australian Investment Exchange Limited ABN 71 076 515 930, AFSL 241400 (‘AUSIEX’), a wholly owned subsidiary of Nomura Research Institute, Ltd (‘NRI’). AUSIEX is a Market Participant of the ASX Limited (‘ASX’) and Cboe Australia Pty Ltd (‘Cboe’), a Clearing Participant of ASX Clear Pty Limited and a Settlement Participant of ASX Settlement Pty Limited. Neither AUSIEX nor Westpac Securities are representatives of each other. Westpac Securities is not a related party of AUSIEX, NRI, ASX or Cboe. Under this arrangement, all trading, clearing, settlement and stock sponsorship arrangements are directly with AUSIEX. AUSIEX is not authorised to carry on business in any jurisdiction other than Australia. Accordingly, the information contained in this website is directed to and available for Australian residents only.

You should read the Westpac Securities and AUSIEX Financial Services Guides (“FSGs”), which provide you with information on the services Westpac Securities and AUSIEX can provide. You can access the FSGs via

This website may contain material provided directly by third parties. This information is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group nor any of their related entities, employees or directors (together, “Westpac”), nor AUSIEX, accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. This website may also contain links to external websites. Westpac does not accept responsibility for, or endorse the content of, such external websites. Except where contrary to law, Westpac intends by this notice to exclude liability for material provided directly by third parties and the content of external websites.

Neither Westpac nor any other company in the Westpac Group nor any of their directors, employees and associates nor AUSIEX, guarantees the security of this website, gives any warranty of reliability or accuracy nor accepts any responsibility arising in any other way including by reason of negligence for, errors in, or omissions from, the information on this website and does not accept any liability for any loss or damage, however caused, as a result of any person relying on any information on the website or being unable to access this website. This disclaimer is subject to any applicable contrary provisions of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act and Competition and Consumer Act.

The information contained on this website does not constitute the provision of advice or constitute or form part of any offer, solicitation or invitation to subscribe for or purchase any securities or other financial product nor shall it form part of it or form the basis of or be relied upon in connection with any contract or commitment whatsoever.

If a Product Disclosure Statement is available in relation to a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider that Product Disclosure Statement before making any decisions about whether to acquire the financial product.

Any securities or prices used in the examples on this website are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold.

The information on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. For this reason, before acting on the information you should consider whether it is appropriate to you, having regards to your objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate financial advice.

Westpac Securities is a wholly owned subsidiary of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714 (‘Westpac’) and part of the Westpac Group. A financial product acquired through Westpac Securities is not a deposit with, or any liability of Westpac or any other company in the Westpac Group. Investment in a financial product is subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment or loss of income and principal invested. Neither Westpac nor any of its related entities stands behind or otherwise guarantees the capital value or investment performance of any financial product acquired through Westpac Securities.


© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141, AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.

The Westpac Group, 275 Kent Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, AUSTRALIA