Basically, ETFs are open-ended index fund that can also be traded on the stock market.
Compared to Mutual funds, there are many advantages of ETFs, one is real time pricing, secondly long term investors are protected from short term traders. Hence it proves to be an ideal instrument for both long term as well as short term investors and also it is easy to buy and sell from the exchange. One major disadvantage of ETF is that the investor should have a demat account and a broking account.
There are two types of advantages over index funds - one is the expense ratio which is currently lower in ETFs as compared to normal index funds. The second advantage is the distribution costs- the other index funds have to pay trail commission to the broker, while ETF does not pay the same. So the ETF cost will be lower.
In addition to the above-mentioned expenses, there also exist some `hidden' costs like transaction costs. Such costs do not form a part of the expense ratio like brokerage and STT. The transaction costs however, are incurred by index funds but not by ETFs. This is another area where ETFs score over regular index funds.
ETFs don't incentivise their product, which other regular mutual funds can do, hence there is no one pushing it.
But internationally what has happened that over a period of time people have found out that ETFs are ideal instruments and it has become more popular.
Just to give an example - in the last three month if you look at the Nifty BeES, among all forty funds it was ranked 11th in the down market, which clearly shows that the ETFs/index funds are working.
Thanks to Personal Fn.com interview of Mr. Rajan Mehta who is the Executive Director of Benchmark Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd