What Is the iShares Silver Trust (SLV)?

What Is the iShares Silver Trust (SLV)?

4 Min.

SLV is an ETF that allows investors to buy and sell silver through leading brokerages, just like stock ETFs. However, its 10-year performance has not been impressive. While silver saw significant gains in 2020 due to extensive economic stimulus from central banks and governments, SLV might be worth considering if you are looking for a long-term investment for asset allocation purposes.


Silver price trends attract many investors due to their profit potential. Understanding the factors that influence silver's future trajectory is crucial. If you're looking to invest in the rise of silver, there are several options available. Among these, the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is a favored choice among stock traders and investors. SLV operates as an exchange-traded fund (ETF), securing silver reserves for investors. Remarkably, it mirrors the stock market's accessibility, trading like conventional ETFs through leading brokerages. With robust trading activity, SLV boasts an impressive 30-day average of 14 million shares exchanged daily as of October 2023.

Vital Statistics for SLV Investment (as of October 2023)

  • 52-Week Price Range: $16.66 - $23.49
  • Dividend Yield: None
  • Total Net Assets: $10.2 Billion
  • Inception Date: April 2006
  • Annual Expense Ratio: 0.50%
  • 10-Year Total Return: -0.13% (as of August 31, 2023)
  • 5-Year Total Return: 10.3% (as of September 30, 2022)
  • 3-Year Total Return: -4.04% (as of September 30, 2022)
  • 1-Year Total Return: 36.05% (as of September 30, 2022)

iShares Silver Trust (SLV) vs. ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ)

When evaluating SLV's decade-long performance, it may appear lackluster. However, subpar returns from 2010 to 2015 should not deter investors, especially those with a modest SLV allocation within their diversified portfolio.

SLV also proves more suitable for long-term investors than ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ). While AGQ may entice speculators with its potential for rapid gains, attempting to time the market often leads to disappointment. Notably, SLV boasts a lower expense ratio at 0.50%, a clear pathway to enhancing returns compared to AGQ's 0.95% fees.

Furthermore, SLV offers greater resilience in the face of declining silver prices, making it a prudent choice for investors concerned about market volatility. It's important to note that leveraged ETFs like AGQ are primarily designed for short-term trading strategies.

Following the Trend: SLV and Silver Performance

In April 2011, silver approached a significant milestone, touching $50 per ounce, marking the peak for SLV. Subsequently, both silver and SLV experienced a prolonged period of decline. However, returns showed resilience between late 2015 and the conclusion of 2020.

In 2020, silver exhibited remarkable growth, fueled by substantial economic stimulus measures enacted by central banks and governments. The precious metal's value often follows strong momentum, and late 2020 appeared promising with prospects for increased government expenditure. Additionally, favorable indicators like the gold/silver ratio remained in play.

Economic Challenges Persist

The Federal Reserve's accommodative monetary policy has benefitted SLV and Wall Street, but the impact on Main Street remains limited. Many consumers face constraints in terms of credit access and savings. This scarcity of financial resources, particularly among younger consumers, raises doubts about the sustainability of consumer spending growth. This economic fragility appears to provide justification for policymakers to continue their spending and monetary expansion efforts, which, in turn, support SLV.

Traditionally, gold and silver are considered safe havens during turbulent times, with gold being the stronger choice. Economic instability can indeed bolster silver's appeal. However, in a severe financial crisis, there could be a rush towards U.S. dollars, potentially harming silver prices and SLV.

Geopolitical Surprises and Silver's Role

Unexpected geopolitical crises have the potential to swiftly disrupt financial markets, leading to stock market downturns and surging commodity prices. Concerns often revolve around conflicts in the Middle East, particularly those affecting oil supplies.

While such scenarios are undesirable, they highlight the advantage of holding SLV for the long term. Even a modest silver investment can be a valuable hedge against stock market volatility. This quality enhances SLV's capacity to enhance the risk-adjusted returns of certain portfolios.


For those seeking rapid gains, SLV may not be the optimal selection. If you are looking for a long-term investment as part of a diversified portfolio, SLV should be considered. It's important to note that silver's volatility can result in swift declines, counterbalancing its rapid ascents, as observed in much of 2020.

iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV)
ProShares Ultra Silver (AGQ)
Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)
Silver ETF