iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) Explained

iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) Explained

3 Min.

The iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) is a cost-effective and accessible investment option for those interested in silver. It tracks silver prices and provides stability and diversification in portfolios. However, investing in SLV, like other commodity ETFs, carries risks associated with market changes and industry-specific factors. Overall, SLV can be a valuable investment for those seeking stability and diversification.


Silver is a precious metal that holds value in many industries, especially in the production of jewelry and electronics. Its scarcity in industrial applications makes it a preferred choice for long-term investors seeking stability during economic downturns. Investment avenues for silver include silver bars, coins, silver production, silver mining firms, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The metal's worth is closely linked to economic conditions.

What Is the iShares Silver Trust ETF?

The iShares Silver Trust is an ETF that tracks silver prices. It shifted to the LMBA Silver Price in August 2014 from the London Silver Fix Price. As of 2021, it managed $14.37 billion in assets and averaged a 4.53% annual return since its 2006 inception, primarily holding silver to diversify portfolios and hedge against inflation. However, investing in commodity ETFs like SLV carries risks tied to market changes, index volatility, interest rates, and industry-specific factors.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) serves as the custodian for SLV's silver assets, which are supplemented by a small cash reserve. SLV takes a passive approach, avoiding active silver trading, although it occasionally sells silver to cover expenses. SLV shares offer a straightforward, cost-effective way to invest in silver, providing an alternative to direct silver ownership, which can be complex and expensive.

Fractional Ownership

The iShares Silver Trust, overseen by BlackRock, is an ETF that offers fractional ownership in its underlying assets. SLV features a competitive 0.5% annual expense ratio, lower than many similar ETFs in the precious metals sector. Investors can purchase SLV shares on the New York Stock Exchange Arca, without the burden of front-end or back-end loads, making it easily accessible.

Investing in Silver ETFs

Oversupply of Silver

Over the past five years leading up to 2020, silver often faced oversupply, pushing its global price downward. Primary demand sources for silver include coinage, jewelry, and industrial applications like photography mirrors and electrical materials.

Impact of Adverse Economic Changes

Silver prices can be negatively impacted by adverse economic changes, especially given its industrial use. Declines in consumer spending, driven by shifting preferences or income reductions, can also affect silver, notably in the jewelry sector.

Lower Expectations for Global Inflation

Lower expectations for global inflation have contributed to the decline in silver prices, impacting the iShares Silver Trust's value. Speculators and short-term investors play a significant role in silver's price fluctuations, adding to its inherent investment risks.

Suitability for Speculative Traders

Considering these factors, investing in SLV is most suitable for speculative traders. The fund has consistently recorded negative returns over the past decade due to factors like overproduction, deflationary pressures, and the 2009 financial crisis. With a five-year average return of -3.51% and a three-year standard deviation of 34.11%, investing in this fund carries substantial risk and often results in negative returns.


The iShares Silver Trust ETF provides investors with a cost-effective and accessible way to invest in silver. With its focus on tracking silver prices and diversifying portfolios, SLV offers stability and potential protection against inflation. However, it's important to note that investing in SLV, like other commodity ETFs, comes with risks tied to market changes and industry-specific factors. Overall, SLV can be a valuable investment option for those seeking stability and diversification in their portfolios.

Precious Metals
Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)
iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV)
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