Compare Returns of Direct Plan and Regular Plan Mutual Funds

Published: April 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Last Updated on

I strongly believe, financial literacy is best promoted by non-professionals. Kirti Desai who runs Bemoneyaware typifies this belief.  Pleasantly surprised to learn so does Silki Gargh, a telecom professional from Varanasi, who runs loancalculators.She reviews loan products, creates calculators like SBI Maxgain Home Loan Calculator and writes on technology, computer security, online threats and virus attacks.The website is her attempt to explore, learn and share. This post is written by her.

Direct Plans of Mutual Funds were introduced from 1st January 2013 by different Mutual Funds Houses in India in compliance to SEBI’s mandate. A lot has been written about the benefits of Direct Plan Mutual Funds for financially savvy investors, who can choose the best available fund for them and can go through the hassles of filling the application forms and depositing them to AMC or CAMS office.

But even after a period of 3 months from the launch of the Direct Plans, a lot of investors are still sitting with their Regular Plans earning less returns than what they could actually get by switching to the Direct Plans. The reason may be several like…

  • Not being aware about the Direct Plans in the first place
  • Not being aware about the big difference this small move can make in their overall return
  • Not knowing how to switch to the Direct Plan
  • Capital Gain and other Tax implications, forcing them to remain invested at least for one year
  • Fearful about losing the services of their financial planners and distributors
  • Or just plain procrastination.

Whatever be the reason, we request all the investors to give this issue a serious thought, because the difference on the overall returns generated from a Regular Plan and a Direct Plan over a long period are too huge to ignore.

The purpose of this post is to highlight this difference by taking actual NAVs of some of the popular Mutual Fund Schemes. It is a good time for this review exercise as one quarter of the year of the launch of the Direct Plan Mutual Funds has already passed.

Example of HDFC Mutual Funds – The Largest Fund House in India

HDFC Mutual Fund is the largest Mutual Fund House of India with some of the most popular schemes like HDFC Top 200, HDFC Growth Fund, HDFC Tax Saver Fund etc. under its belt. The expense ratio structure for some of their popular Diversified Equity Mutual Funds is as follows.

Expense Ratio for Regular Plans

  • On the first 100 crores daily net assets 2.50%
  • On the next 300 crores daily net assets 2.25%
  • On the next 300 crores daily net assets 2.00%
  • On the balance of the net assets 1.75%
  • In addition to the above a charge of 20 bps on the daily net assets plus a proportionate
    charge in respect sales beyond T-15 cities subject to maximum of 30 bps on daily net assets
  • This is excluding Service Tax on Investment Management Fees, if any.

Expense Ratio for Direct Plan are lower by about 0.52% to 0.59%.

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Name of the SchemeNAV as on 28th Mar. 2013
HDFC Top 200 – Regular Plan210.4850
HDFC Top 200 – Direct Plan210.7820
HDFC Tax Saver  – Regular Plan225.3300
HDFC Tax Saver  – Direct Plan225.6950
HDFC Equity – Regular Plan271.1090
HDFC Equity  – Direct Plan271.5280
HDFC Growth  – Regular Plan87.6560
HDFC Growth  – Direct Plan87.7640

As you can see from the table above, the difference between the NAVs of the two plans of the same scheme is about 0.13% – 0.16%. Remember that these are the result of performance of one quarter. We can safely assume this difference to become about 0.50% to 0.70% in the full year. Let us assume a figure of 0.60%.

How Big is the Difference in Returns

Although the difference in returns of a Direct Plan vs. a Regular Plan Mutual Fund looks like a small figure of just 0.60%, but it can create a huge difference in the long run. This of course is due to the magic of compounding.

I have compared the returns from a Direct Plan vs. a Regular Plan Mutual Fund using this Excel file. Following is the result.


  • One time Lumpsum investment: Rs. 1,00,000/-
  • Assumed Rate of Return: 15%
  • Period: 25 Years
  • Difference in the Expense Ratio: 0.60%


  • Return from Regular Plan: Rs. 28,32,081/-
  • Return from Direct Plan: Rs. 32,91,895/-

Difference of Rs. 4,59,815/- i.e. a whopping 14%. Can you afford to ignore such a huge difference? Would you still procrastinate and not switch your mutual fund investments in the Regular Plan to the Direct Plan.

We have shown the example of HDFC Mutual Fund in this post. Please note that the expense ratios of other AMCs are also in the similar range and the above analysis holds good for all of them. We encourage you to download the MS Excel Template file available on this website and do the calculations yourself to see the actual difference in different conditions.

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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  1. Dear Pattu,
    It’s taken me two months and I’m happy to inform that from ICICI Direct(a broker), I’m now totally into direct plans! Yes, now I know how to fill a common application form, register an SIP, ask for statements directly from the AMC…I can even walk into the AMC offices and get my work done! Thank you and your “comparator” very much for initiating me into direct plans! Fortunate to be on your blog mailing list! Carry on the good work!
    Warm Regards/Kapil

  2. A typical Indian investor ‘ll still keep on searching for that perfect MF (which is nothing but a plain MIRAGE) instead of opting any one fund. No matter we opt a winner or laggard MF, at the end of the day, the performance of direct investing ‘ll end in a far higher return than the regular expense fund. Kudos to both Pattu & Silky.



  3. I switched all my investments to direct plans in Jan 2013 itself when it first came in to effect! While i was switching my investments to direct plan i accidentally met an agent at CAMS. The agent, after looking at my consciousness about direct plan had an argument with me and told me that i was wrong! I told him that even small difference in NAV would make a big difference because of long term compounding but he was not ready to listen and was adamant on his part of argument. He said majority of his clients invest in mutual funds for short term and they redeem frequently and direct plan wouldn’t make any difference. After listening to this i happily avoided the argument and went home. : )

    1. Dear AyushP306, sensible thing is waht you did. Instead of proving us right, sometimes it’s good to accept defeat & move on. the time ‘ll tell itself who was right & who was more right. 🙂



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