Sub category: Superannuation
26 November 2020

ETFs: a nuts-and-bolts explainer (featuring pizza)

For many of us, superannuation can become one of our biggest financial assets, right on the heels of owning our own home. And since your super exists to fund your retirement, it’s good to know about the different ways it can grow and where your super money (because it is your money!) can go.

Super funds are made up of all kinds of investment products, from managed funds to cash and bonds, to property, to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs, for short), to shares on the share market, to things called LICs (Listed Investment Companies, for the curious). But let’s not get bogged down in all that jargon today. Instead, let’s zoom in on ETFs, because knowing a little about them could mean a lot of benefit for you.

ETFs… so what?

Before we get into the nuts and bolts, we wanted to bring up one of the most exciting things about ETFs (if not the most, if you ask us): they let you choose where you invest your super balance. For example, if you’ve got a soft spot for technology, sustainability or health, or you’re passionate about emerging markets, you can use ETFs to put your money where your heart is.

That’s one of the superpowers ETFs give you. Let’s break them down a little more.

First things first: what is an ETF?

It’s a type of investment that’s traded (that’s the T) through a stock exchange (that’s the E). ‘Traded’ just means bought and sold. But rather than one investment in one company, which is what a share of stock is, an ETF is a fund (there’s the F!), which means it’s a collection of investments in multiple companies, all bundled together. You invest your super money into the bundle. These bundles often fall into categories like those we mentioned earlier, so one ETF might be a technology bundle, another a sustainability bundle, another a health bundle and so on.

At this point, you might be wondering, “Okay, so who chooses what’s included in the bundle?” That’s pretty straightforward. The bundle is put together by an ETF provider, and that provider can either distribute the bundle themselves, or it can be distributed by places like financial institutions (like us).

How ETFs offer choice

You could think about an ETF as a pizza – a slightly weird pizza, maybe, but a pizza nonetheless. If you’re passionate about being vegetarian, you might choose to invest your dinner money in a vegetarian pizza. Then each slice of that pizza would feature a different vegetarian topping – one might be roasted pumpkin and pinenuts, the next triple cheese, and so on. (This is a really good thing because it offers variety. More on that next.)

Want to help create a future where more businesses are ethical? You could invest your super money in an ETF that only features sustainable companies. Passionate about healthcare? There are ETFs for that, too.

More great news about ETFs is that buying and selling is easy! You can pick and choose where you invest, and you can trade on the ASX – like a share. But it’s also important to know that markets can be volatile, so with every benefit there’s always potential risk when investing.

Why choose an ETF?

Investing in an ETF means your money is spread across multiple companies. So if one company underperforms, you’ll still be invested in a bunch of others. And if they perform well enough, they could help counter any loss.

Let’s expand on that pizza analogy: Imagine your housemate has raided the fridge and helped himself to a slice of your pizza. That’s disappointing, but he didn’t get the whole pie – he just took one slice. In fact, because you have a variety of toppings across your pizza, you’ve still got a lot of other tasty slices to enjoy. ETFs are a bit like that.

Take the ability to invest in what you care about and add easy trading and daily visibility of how your investment is performing, and an ETF could be the superpower for you.

Ready to start putting your money where your passion is?

As an ING Living Super member you could invest your super in what matters to you – areas like tech, health and sustainability. You simply need $10,000 in your account to set up a Share Trading account, and then, once you’re set up, check the limits involved (by reading the PDS) and you’re ready to start trading. Head to our website for more info on how to get started.


  • Check with your superannuation fund.
  • Speak to an independent financial adviser at or call 1300 337 301.
  • Read more about ETFs on the Australian Government’s MoneySmart website at
  • Explore the Australian Securities Exchange resources at

And remember, if you’re ever unsure, you can always ask our friendly Customer Care team between 8am and 8pm Mon–Fri (AEST/AEDT) on 133 464.

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you.

ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. ING, a business name of of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL 229823, is the Promoter of the Fund. Living Super is not available for U.S. Persons (i.e. if you have U.S. residential, postal or fiscal address, phone number, citizenship, Green Card or any U.S. related proxy).

Unless otherwise specified, the information on the Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) available on is provided by TAG Asset Consulting Group Pty Ltd T/A Atchison Consultants (ABN 58 097 703 047 AFSL 230846) and is current as at 31 May 2020. ETP investment objectives, descriptions and fees have been sourced from the relevant ETP provider and may change. You should also refer to the applicable disclosure documents for an ETP for up to date key features.

You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms

Related articles

Future Proof