Actively Managed ETFs vs Managed Funds: Critical Differences

Broadly speaking, investors in active ETFs and traditional managed funds make the same decision: they choose the expertise of a fund manager to decide where and when to invest. Active ETFs aim to outperform the benchmark index, and managers choose stocks and weightings depending on the fund strategy and investment objectives. Like traditional managed funds, active ETFs give investors the opportunity to beat the market by tapping on the knowledge and experience of financial professionals.  This is because active management – whether through active ETFs or managed funds – offer the opportunity to benefit from market inefficiencies. Share prices are often driven by sentiment rather than long-term fundamentals. A sudden drop in Apple shares, for example, might spook the market and affect the stock prices of other technology companies that aren’t related to Apple. Or a robust business with long-term performance potential might announce positive earnings, but its shares fall because a negative, short-term news story relating to that firm unsettles the market. Active managers seek to look through these short-term inefficiencies and potentially profit from them.

More recently, some fund managers have started offering access to funds that combine the features of both active ETFs and managed funds. This means, investors can choose to invest in the Fund either through the securities exchange or directly with fund manager using an application form, depending on their preferred method of access.  So, while the underlying strategy and investment style is the same, there are key differences between the structure and access of the product. The below table highlights the main differences:

  Active ETF Managed fund 
Availability Quoted or listed Unlisted 

  • Open-ended
  • Issues / cancels units daily
  • Trades on the securities exchange
  • Fund acts as a market maker to provide liquidity
  • Open-ended
  • Regularly issues /cancels units
  • Does not trade on the stock exchange
  • Live pricing on the stock exchange
  • Generally expected to trade at a tight
    spread around the NAV, reflecting the open-ended nature of the fund
  • Instant price confirmation
  • No cooling off rights (same as other listed securities)
  • Entry / exit price generally not known
    until trade + 1 day
  • Cooling off rights as outlined in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)
Disclosure Full holdings are disclosed either monthly or quarterly on a lagged basis, subject to Australian stock exchange approval. Typically, holdings are disclosed monthly with a 30-day lag.
Minimum investment
No minimum Typically A$25,000
Application process including anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC)
  • Must have a broker account
  • No application form, AML or KYC required apart from the initial application for a brokerage account.
  • Investing directly requires an application form, AML and KYC documents for each fund manager.

Essentially the main difference boils down to access, which may mean an Active ETF may suit investors looking to invest but have smaller deposits or want the simplicity of buying and selling on a stock exchange. For more information on how Active ETFs differ to other products, download our Active ETF product distinctions flyer (PDF).