What is full replication in ETFs, and how do you use it?

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have become increasingly popular among investors looking for a convenient way to invest in a diversified portfolio of securities. ETFs are baskets of stocks, bonds or other assets that trade on an exchange like individual stocks. They offer the benefits of both mutual funds and individual stocks – they are low-cost and provide diversification, liquidity, and flexibility in trading. One of the critical characteristics of ETFs is their ability to track an underlying index or benchmark, providing investors with exposure to a specific market or sector.


In Singapore, ETFs have gained significant popularity due to their ease of trading on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). In addition to traditional ETFs, investors can use full replication in ETF trading. Full replication is a strategy ETF managers use to track the performance of an underlying index by holding all or nearly all the securities that make up the index. This article will discuss using full replication in ETF trading in Singapore.

Understanding full replication

Full replication is a strategy used by ETF managers to track the performance of an underlying index. It involves buying and holding all or substantially all the securities that comprise the index. This method aims to replicate the index’s returns as closely as possible, exposing investors to a specific market or sector.

One of the critical advantages of full replication is its ability to provide investors with precise exposure to the underlying index, reducing tracking error. Tracking error differs between an ETF’s performance and its benchmark index. When an ETF uses full replication, it closely mirrors the index’s performance, minimising tracking error.

However, this strategy also has some drawbacks. The most significant disadvantage is cost. Full replication requires buying and holding all or most of the securities in the index, which can be expensive and result in higher management fees for investors. Some securities may be challenging to obtain, causing liquidity issues for the ETF.

ETFs that use full replication are more commonly found in developed markets where the underlying indexes have a lower number of securities or when there is a high level of liquidity in those markets. In emerging markets, where the indexes may have more securities or less liquidity, ETFs tend to use other replication methods, such as representative sampling.

Choosing an ETF broker

To trade ETFs using full replication in Singapore, investors must open an account with a reputable ETF broker. An ETF broker is a financial institution that acts as an intermediary between investors and the ETF market. They offer various services, including execution, clearing, and settlement of trades.

When choosing an ETF broker in Singapore, investors should consider several factors. Firstly, they should ensure that the broker is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and has a good reputation in the market. Investors should also look for brokers that offer competitive commission rates and a user-friendly trading platform. It is also crucial to consider if the broker provides access to international markets, as some ETFs may track indexes in other countries.

Investors should also be aware of any additional fees the broker charges, such as custodian charges or inactivity fees. It is essential to review these costs carefully before selecting an ETF broker.

Researching ETFs

Once investors have chosen a reputable ETF broker, the next step is to research the available ETFs. It is essential to understand the underlying index that each ETF tracks and its performance history. Investors should also consider the fund’s expense ratio, liquidity, and assets under management.

In Singapore, investors can access a wide range of ETFs, including local and international indexes. They can invest in broad-based market ETFs or focus on specific sectors such as technology, healthcare, or real estate. Sector ETFs are popular for those who are looking for investments that align directly with their interests. Diversifying your investments by choosing funds that track different indexes to minimise risk is essential.

It is also crucial to consider the ETF’s past performance, including its tracking error, and compare it with similar ETFs. While past performance does not guarantee future results, it can provide investors with insights into how the ETF has performed in various market conditions.

Placing a trade

Once investors have researched and selected an ETF to invest in, they can place a trade through their chosen broker. The process is similar to buying individual stocks, where investors input the desired quantity and price of the ETF they wish to purchase.

Investors should remember that full replication ETFs may be more expensive than other ETFs due to higher management fees. Considering the total cost of owning the ETF, including any brokerage fees and additional charges, is essential.

Traders should also be mindful of the ETF’s bid-ask spread, which is the difference between the price to buy and sell an ETF. A lower bid-ask spread indicates a more liquid ETF and may result in lower investor trading costs.

Denny Jones

Hey there, I'm Denny Jones, a seasoned financial writer with over a decade of experience. I'm passionate about simplifying finance and empowering readers to achieve financial freedom. My articles offer practical advice and insights to help you navigate investing, budgeting, and personal finance with confidence. Let's unlock your financial potential together!

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