The ability to trade ETFs commission-free is most or very important to 45 percent of respondents. While 59 percent are inclined to trade ETFs at the firm offering the most ETFs commission-free, nearly half (48 percent) would not buy a commission-free ETF that assessed a fee for selling too early.

The study also revealed that some investors are ready to take their knowledge of ETFs to the next level. Three in ten investors (31 percent) say they still need to know more about ETFs in order to invest more in them. Respondents are most interested in learning more about ETFs’ tax implications, with understanding how to best use them in a portfolio coming in a close second.

“Investors are ready to move beyond a rudimentary understanding of ETFs and get into the nitty gritty details on things like costs and taxes,” said Flynn. “We’re turning a corner on ETF education which is very good news.”

Value the Flexibility, in it for the Long Haul

The top benefit of ETFs, according to study participants, is that they can be bought and sold like stocks. When given a choice of nicknames for ETFs, the #1 answer – selected by 57 percent of respondents – was “Easily Traded Funds 1.”

That said, 53 percent said they believe ETFs are best suited for those in the market for the long term. This came in well ahead of those who felt they were well-suited for active traders at 40 percent.

In terms of which ETFs are in favor with investors these days, sector funds rank first with equity and international ETFs rounding out the top three. Among specialty ETFs specifically, respondents are most interested in purchasing commodity funds.

Schwab offers a host of resources to help clients choose ETFs that fit their investment needs, including the Schwab ETF Select List™; tutorials, research and tools available via Schwab’s online ETF center and the ETF Education Exchange; and live events at local Schwab branches.

In addition to the 21 proprietary ETFs from Charles Schwab Investment Management, which can be bought and sold commission-free online in Schwab accounts, Schwab ETF OneSource offers investors and advisors access to the most commission-free ETFs anywhere in the industry 2. Commission-free online trading is available to individual investors at Schwab, to the nearly 7,000 independent investment advisors who use Schwab’s custodial services and through Schwab retirement accounts that permit trading of ETFs.

About the 2013 ETF Investor Study by Charles Schwab

The 2013 ETF Investor Study by Charles Schwab is an online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. individual investors between the ages of 25-75 with at least $25,000 in investable assets and some familiarity with ETFs. The study was designed to assess attitudes toward and understanding of ETFs. Fifty-four percent of survey respondents own ETFs, holding on average 19 percent of their total portfolios in ETFs.

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