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. Note that these ETFs hold silver or silver futures, not stocks of companies that mine for silver.

Key Takeaways

  • The price of silver has dramatically underperformed the broader equity market over the past year.
  • The three silver ETFs, ranked according to one-year trailing total returns, are SIVR, SLV, and DBS.
  • The only holding of SIVR and SLV is silver, and the holdings of DBS are solely comprised of silver futures.

The silver ETF universe is comprised of 3 ETFs that trade in the U.S., excluding leveraged ETFs. These ETFs trade the commodity silver, as opposed to ETFs that trade silver-mining companies. Silver has dramatically underperformed the market in the past year, with the benchmark Bloomberg Silver Subindex providing a one-year trailing total return of -14.6% as compared with 31.1% for the S&P 500, as of Aug. 30, 2021. The best performing silver ETF is the Aberdeen Standard Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR). Below, we look at the best 3 silver ETFs, ranked by one-year trailing total returns. The numbers below are as of Aug. 30, 2021.

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.

Aberdeen Standard Physical Silver Shares ETF (SIVR)

  • Performance over 1-Year: -12.9%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.30%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 488,746
  • Assets Under Management: $967.6 million
  • Inception Date: July 23, 2009
  • Issuer: Abrdn PLC

SIVR is structured as a grantor trust, physically backed by silver bullion and coins held in a vault on behalf of investors. Its objective is to track the performance of the price of silver less the expenses of the operations of the trust. Because it holds only physical silver, this fund does not utilize futures contracts. Like other silver ETFs, SIVR may be a useful safe haven during market uncertainty, but it may not be attractive as a long-term, buy-and-hold investment. The single holding of SIVR is silver.

iShares Silver Trust (SLV)

  • Performance over 1-Year: -13.1%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.50%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 21,569,480
  • Assets Under Management: $12.9 billion
  • Inception Date: April 21, 2006
  • Issuer: Blackrock Financial Management

Like SIVR, SLV is a grantor trust holding physical silver on behalf of investors. The trust provides investors with exposure to the daily movements of the price of silver bullion. Given that it does not utilize futures contracts, the fund is not subject to backwardation or contango. Like SIVR, it may be attractive to investors as a safe haven during market turbulence. The single holding of SLV is silver.

Invesco DB Silver Fund (DBS)

  • Performance over 1-Year: -15.2%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.75%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 1,477
  • Assets Under Management: $23.0 million
  • Inception Date: Jan. 5, 2007
  • Issuer: Invesco

DBS is structured as a commodity pool, a private investment tool structured to combine investor contributions for trading futures and commodities markets. The fund tracks the DBIQ Optimum Yield Silver Index Excess Return. This rules-based index seeks to track the price of silver futures plus the interest income of the fund's holdings. Because it is exposed to futures contracts, DBS is subject to the risks associated with backwardation and contango. The fund's only holdings are of silver futures.

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