Silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs) closely track the price of silver and are generally more liquid than owning the precious metal itself. Like other precious metals, silver tends to be favored by investors seeking a hedge against inflation or a safe haven in times of market turmoil. Silver ETFs are generally structured as grantor trusts, a typical structure for funds whose assets are a single commodity held physically in a vault. This grantor trust structure means that each share of ownership in the ETF corresponds to a specific quantity of the underlying silver, making silver ETFs a convenient option for investors wanting to own physical bullion without the hassle of insuring and storing the metals themselves.

Key Takeaways

  • Silver ETFs significantly outperformed the broader market over the past year.
  • The ETFs with the best 1-year trailing total returns are DBS, SIVR, and USV.
  • The only holding of each of these ETFs is silver.

The silver ETF universe is comprised of 4 ETFs, excluding inverse and leveraged ETFs. Silver futures have dramatically outperformed the market in the past year, with a 1-year price change of 56.8% as compared with a 1-year total return of 19.4% for the S&P 500. The best performing silver ETF for Q4 2020 is the Invesco DB Silver Fund (DBS). Below, we look at the top 3 silver ETFs as measured by 1-year trailing total returns. All numbers in this story are as of August 13, 2020.

ETFs with very low assets under management (AUM), less than $50 million, usually have lower liquidity than larger ETFs. This can result in higher trading costs which can negate some of your investment gains or increase your losses.

Invesco DB Silver Fund (DBS)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Returns: 58.3%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.75%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 0.90%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 8,845
  • Assets Under Management: $23.8 million
  • Inception Date: January 5, 2007
  • Issuing Company: Invesco

DBS is structured as a commodity pool which tracks the DBIQ Optimum Yield Silver Index Excess Return. The index and the ETF are composed of silver futures contracts. Because it is exposed to futures contracts, DBS is subject to risks such as backwardation and contango. The single holding of DBS is silver.

Aberdeen Standard Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Returns: 58.2%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.30%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 831,106
  • Assets Under Management: $835.4 million
  • Inception Date: July 24, 2009
  • Issuing Company: Aberdeen Standard Investments

SIVR is structured as a grantor trust, physically backed by silver bullion and coins held in a vault on behalf of investors. Because it holds only physical silver, this fund does not utilize futures contracts. Like other silver ETFs, while SIVR may be a useful safe haven during market uncertainty, it may not be attractive as a long-term, buy-and-hold investment.

E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Silver ETN (USV)

  • 1-Year Trailing Total Returns: 41.5%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.40%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 1,472
  • Assets Under Management: $5.2 million
  • Inception Date: April 1, 2008
  • Issuing Company: UBS

USV is an ETN which tracks the UBS Bloomberg CMCI Silver Total Return index. The ETN measures returns from a collateralized basket of silver futures contracts diversified across maturities ranging from 3 months to 3 years. Like DBS, USV is subject to risks associated with backwardation and contango. The single holding of USV is silver.