What are common order types?

ETFs allow you to place any type of trade that you would with stocks. Here are some common order types:

Market order You buy or sell immediately at the best available current price. When you place a market order, your priority is making the trade quickly, not securing a particular price.
Stop order You set a price—the stop price—at which you automatically buy or sell. When the market hits the stop price, your stop order becomes a market order. The price you then get is the best available current price. That price may have changed, for better or worse, in the moments after your stop price triggered your market order. When you place a stop order, your priority is trying to limit a loss or protect a profit.
Limit order You set a price and execute your trade only if shares are available at that price or better. Limit orders protect you from executing a trade at an undesirable price. When you place a limit order, your priority is securing a certain price, not speed of execution.
Stop-limit order Similar to a stop order, but in addition to setting the stop price, you also set a limit price. When the market hits the stop price your stop order becomes a limit order, at the limit price you specified. When you place a stop-limit order, your priority is trying to limit a loss or protect a profit without the unpredictability of a market order.

Your block desk can help

A block desk, if one is available to you, can use its trading tools and network of relationships to help you when you place a large order. Your block desk may be able to:

  • Review the depth of interest in an ETF before placing a trade. You may be able to determine from your trading screen only how many shares are available at best-bid and best-ask prices. Your block desk can evaluate additional availability of shares.
  • Trade in increments to manage any effect that large trades could have on prices.
  • Create and redeem ETF shares directly with the ETF manager, if your broker is an authorized participant.
  • Obtain a quote to execute the entire trade.

A Vanguard sales representative is a good starting point for a discussion about ETF liquidity. He or she can consult with a capital markets specialist on your behalf, or refer you directly. The specialist can access additional data on the depth of liquidity and suggest a trading execution strategy.

For larger trades, the specialist can consult with market makers to help you maximize potential liquidity in the ETF. Your capital markets specialist will know whether your requested trade size is large enough to engage a market maker or whether liquidity is naturally available for your order. A large order for one product may not be a large order for another.

ETF fundamentals