Swap-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) use investor cash to create collateral. It offers the return earned from the collateral to a counterparty, in exchange for a payment equal to the return on the securities that it wishes to track.

This strategy presents a risk to the investor based on the ability of the counterparty to fulfil its financial obligations. It also depends on the quality of the collateral.

In the current climate this may be a risk worth avoiding if possible. Even physical ETFs, which own the underlying assets, may be riskier than they seem because of stock lending activities, where the ETF provider lends out its underlying securities to counterparties in exchange for a fee. Stock lending introduces similar counterparty risks to synthetic ETFs.

Risk warnings
This document has been prepared based on our understanding of current UK law and HM Revenue and Customs practice, both of which may be the subject of change in the future. The opinions expressed herein are those of Cantab Asset Management Ltd and should not be construed as investment advice. Cantab Asset Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. As with all equity-based and bond-based investments, the value and the income therefrom can fall as well as rise and you may not get back all the money that you invested. The value of overseas securities will be influenced by the exchange rate used to convert these to sterling. Investments in stocks and shares should therefore be viewed as a medium to long-term investment. Past performance is not a guide to the future. It is important to note that in selecting ESG investments, a screening out process has taken place which eliminates many investments potentially providing good financial returns. By reducing the universe of possible investments, the investment performance of ESG portfolios might be less than that potentially produced by selecting from the larger unscreened universe.