How and where to invest in ETFs in Malaysia

One can invest in ETFs either through robot-advisory platforms or Bursa Malaysia. ( pic)

ETFs are an awesome investment. It is recommended by many top personal finance experts, including Sallie Krawcheck and Ramit Sethi.

Ellevest (where Sallie is the CEO) has the easiest-to-understand definition of ETFs: “Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are baskets of investments that resemble mutual funds, but trade on an exchange like a stock. They also tend to have low fees.”

The low fee part is important. The fee range for ETFs in Malaysia is between 0.2-0.8% in management fee per year. That’s cheap, in case you didn’t know.

Usually, mutual funds have a management fee of between 1-2%. And that’s not including the sales charge that you have to pay if you buy mutual funds, which can go up to 7% of your total amount.

The only not-so-good part about ETFs is that the volume is low in Malaysia, so it can be a bit hard to liquidate*. However, as ETFs get more and more popular, the situation will get better. ETFs are supposed to be for long-term investments anyway.

*Hard to liquidate = a bit hard to sell back

How to invest in ETFs

There are two main ways to invest in ETFs in Malaysia – through robo-advisory platforms or Bursa Malaysia.

You can also invest in ETFs outside of Malaysia, but that requires you to open a foreign account before you can top up your ETFs-earmarked accounts. All this is possible but a little messy and inconvenient, so ignore this if you want to keep it simple.

Investing in ETFs through robo-advisory platforms

As of the time of writing, there are two robo-advisory platforms serving the Malaysian market – Stashaway (from Singapore) and MyTheo (from Japan).


  • Nice interface and very millennial-friendly.
  • They ask you questions then help you select which ETF to buy, based on your risk appetite and goals. So you don’t carelessly pick the wrong one.
  • You can automate monthly top-ups so it’s a nice way to invest passively. A set-and-forget system.
  • You’ll like it if you’re into fintech.


  • No Syariah-compliant ETFs offered through them (yet).

Investing in ETFs through Bursa Malaysia

You can also invest in ETFs through Bursa. Quite a few companies offer them there, and the number is growing.


  • Should be easy if you are already familiar with the stock-buying process. Just use your CDS account to buy the ETF you want.
  • Syariah-compliant ETFs are available.


  • It’s unlikely that you can make automatic monthly top-ups here, unlike with the robo-advisory.
  • A little bit more technical. Not as friendly as the robo-advisory.
  • You have to pick the ETFs you want yourself. Thankfully the selection is still fairly small.

This article first appeared in

Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.