Expense ratio of a mutual fund scheme refers to the annual fee charged by a mutual fund house to the investors for the management of the scheme. It is calculated by dividing a mutual fund scheme’s total expenses by the value of assets under its management (AUM).
While managing a scheme, a fund house incurs expenses such as administrative cost, marketing cost, promotion cost, distribution cost, compliance costs, shareholder service cost, etc., which get reflected in the scheme’s expense ratio.
SEBI Regulations on Expense Ratio
As per the capital market regulator, SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), fund houses can charge Total Expense Ratio (TER), subject to the following maximum limits:
|Asset Under Management (crores)||TER for equity-oriented schemes (%)||TER for other schemes excluding Index Funds, ETFs and Fund of Funds (%)|
|Rs. 10,000-50,000||For every increase of 5,000 crore in AUM TER reduces by 0.05%||For every increase of 5,000 crore in AUM TER reduces by 0.05%|
|> Rs. 50,000||1.05||0.80|
Expense Ratio is inversely related to the AUM of the fund. When the value of a funds’ assets is small, the expense ratio is higher such that the management meets the fund expenses from a smaller asset base. Whereas, when the asset value of a fund is huge, the expense ratio is comparatively lower as the expenses get distributed across a wider asset base.
However, SEBI allows fund houses an extra of 30 basis points (0.30%) in expense ratio over and above the mentioned maximum limits for selling in beyond top 30 cities, only if 30% or more of new inflows come from beyond the top 30 cities. This is done to widen the penetration of the mutual funds in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
Fund houses are also allowed to charge 5 basis points (0.05%) of AUM over and above the maximum expense ratio limits in lieu of an exit fee, wherein exit load is levied or is applicable. However, AMCs are not allowed to charge the expense ratio in lieu of exit load for close-ended schemes.
Expense Ratio of Index Funds, ETFs, and Fund of Funds (FoFs)
Index Fund: An Index Fund is a mutual fund which invests in a market index such as the Nifty 50 or the Sensex. The fund invests in index stocks, in the weights in which they are present in the index. It thus seeks to replicate the performance of an index. This does not require a high level of active management of the fund and hence, the expense ratio of index funds tends to be low.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): ETF is a type of fund which passively invests in stocks, bonds or commodities, usually tracking an Index like the Nifty 50 or the Nasdaq 100 (for instance, Motilal Oswal Nasdaq 100). An ETF is traded on stock exchanges just like stocks. One must have a Demat and trading account to invest in it. In case of an ordinary mutual fund, you can directly buy units from the fund house, without going to a stock exchange. An ETF is a passive instrument (not actively managed) and hence, tends to feature a significantly lower expense ratio as compared to mutual funds.
Fund of Funds (FoFs): A Fund-of-funds (FoF) is a mutual fund which invests in other mutual funds. In India, FoFs are typically mutual funds investing in overseas mutual funds, which in turn invest in foreign stocks (for instance, Franklin India Feeder Franklin US Opportunities Fund) or FoFs investing in gold ETFs (for instance Reliance Gold Savings Fund). The expense ratio of FoFs is relatively higher than what an investor would incur by directly investing in the underlying mutual fund.
Expense Ratio of Direct vs Regular Mutual Fund Schemes
Mutual fund schemes come in two plans- direct plan and regular plan. The only difference between the two is that in case of a regular plan, your asset management company (AMC) or mutual fund house does pay a commission to a broker or agent as distribution expenses or transaction fee out of your investment, whereas in case of a direct plan, no such commission is paid.
Thus, direct mutual fund plans have a lower expense ratio than that of the regular mutual fund schemes.
Expense Ratio Calculator
You do not need a calculator to know the expense ratio of a mutual fund scheme. Every fund house publishes the expense ratios for all its mutual fund schemes in its factsheets. These factsheets are updated every month and are available on the websites of AMCs.