Which are the most popular direct plan mutual funds?

Published: December 4, 2018 at 9:38 am

Last Updated on

Ever wondered which are the most popular direct plan mutual funds? This is a list of the largest (AUM wise) equity and debt direct plan funds. The data is sourced from AMFI and is as on Sep 2018. The post is inspired by a series of questions by Anath at Facebook group, Asan Ideas for Wealth and several other unsubstantiated opinions about fund popularity.

For the uninitiated, direct plan refers to funds which do not pay commissions from your investment value every day to distributors. The opposite of a direct plan is the regular plan. In this case, a commission is removed from your investment value every day along with expenses for the scheme before the NAV is declared. See this to understand how it makes a difference: Illustration: Direct Mutual Funds vs. Regular Mutual Funds

Is it right to assume that a fund with higher AUM is popular? In the case of direct plans, I think so. Many funds often have a social buzz. That is many people talk about it in a good or bad way. That does not mean they or anyone else have enough money in it. AUM is a quantifiable source of popularity. In the case of regular plans, popularity only means the bank or the distributors are “motivated enough” to push it more.

One can argue that the direct fund investment portal that offers fund suggestions may influence the choices of direct plan investors. This may well be the case in future, but as of now, I am sure you will agree that this is not the case.

Another important point that direct plan investors should keep in mind is the fact that the AUM you see in portals like Value Research is the sum of the regular plan and direct plan AUM. This can pretty misleading in some cases.

Take the case of ICICI Nifty Next 50 Index fund. This has a total AUM of  271.96 Crores. One might assume that much of this fund’s AUM comes from the direct plan.  This is indeed correct. The direct plan AUM (growth + dividend option) accounts for 63.8% of the total aum, and this is impressive. How much of this is due direct plan portals is unknown.

On the other hand, take UTI Nifty Next 50 Index fund which is only a few months old and already has 235 crores. Only 24.7% of this comes from the direct plan. The AMC had possibly asked distributors to push the fund, especially in the NFO period. God bless the investor who wishes to invest in the regular plan of an index fund!

Another interesting case is ICICI Equity Arbitrage. The direct plans (growth + dividend + bonus*) make up for 57% of the total AUM. The dividend option of the direct plan constitutes 47% of the total AUM!  The regular plan dividend option only constitutes 32% of the AUM! One can only guess that the direct plan dividend investors are high net worth individuals (HNIs) who do not mind paying the 10% tax on equity dividends. * I do not know why there is a bonus option listed only for the direct plan!

The point is that investors who wish to gauge popularity should look at the regular plan to direct plan break up in AUM. Members of FB group Asan Ideas for Wealth are especially guilty of assuming things based on a couple of threads. Many assume PPFAS and QLTE are popular among direct plan investors and this cannot be more wrong.

On Sunday I asked members of said group to guess (without any research) which direct plan equity fund had the highest AUM. Many responses were close, and six people gave the right answer. As mentioned, the first two guesses will receive a small prize (along with the admin for allowing it 🙂 ) Sudipta Badapanda and Amit Makhija.

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Looking at the list of direct plan equity funds, one thing should be clear. Much of the AUM has come from regular plan investors who have switched to direct over the last five years and continued to invest in it. If the direct fund portals take off in a big way, this dynamic could change, and we might see more cases like ICICI Nifty Next 50 Fund. However, for this to happen, the regular AUM slice, on the whole, should decrease. I think it will in 5-10 years depending on how the markets behave.

Which are the most popular direct plan mutual funds?

List of most popular direct plan equity funds

This list (and the one below) is sourced from AMFI and is provided on a “fair use” basis with attribution for educational and research purposes in public interest.

Please note that I have ranked funds in descending order of AUM without adding the growth option and dividend option AUM.  IMO it will not alter the rankings by too much for equity funds (the arbitrage fund rankings might change a bit). In any case, the first five spots will remain unchanged. So in what you see, unless specified otherwise, the scheme refers to growth option.

HNIs and perhaps institutions are responsible for a good chunk of the AUM in direct plans of arbitrage funds. There are 38 funds having an direct AUM more than 1000 Crore.

Scheme NameAverage AUM (Crores)
HDFC Equity Fund6020.21
Aditya Birla Sun Life Frontline Equity Fund4864.11
Kotak Standard Multicap Fund4734.67
ICICI Prudential Bluechip Fund4387.30
ICICI Prudential Equity Arbitrage Fund  – Dividend3699.71
Kotak Equity Arbitrage Fund -Fortnightly3509.91
HDFC Hybrid Equity3278.05
Reliance Arbitrage Fund- Monthly dividend Plan2742.61
ICICI Prudential Value Discovery Fund2708.62
HDFC Mid Cap Opportunities Fund2597.12
Aditya Birla Sun Life Arbitrage Fund – Dividend2479.45
ICICI Prudential Equity & Debt Fund2180.36
Franklin India Equity Fund2070.28
ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund1958.66
HDFC Top 100 Fund1940.76
Franklin India Bluechip Fund1791.19
Aditya Birla Sun Life Equity Fund1717.20
HDFC Balanced Advantage Fund1704.32
Kotak Equity Arbitrage Fund – Dividend1600.88
Franklin India Focused Equity Fund1499.48
Franklin India Smaller Companies Fund1479.60
Axis Long Term Equity Fund1387.68
HDFC Arbitrage Fund Wholesale Plan Dividend Option1275.97
Reliance Multi Cap Fund1215.77
SBI Arbitrage Opportunities Fund  – DIVIDEND1178.68
SBI Magnum Multicap Fund1157.44
Kotak Equity Arbitrage Fund1155.89
HDFC Small Cap Fund1148.58
L&T Emerging Businesses Fund1145.12
Reliance Large Cap Fund1145.04
HDFC Balance Advantage Fund  – Dividend Option1133.79
Aditya Birla Sun Life Equity Advantage Fund1133.28
ICICI Prudential Multi-Asset Fund1127.67
IDFCArbitrage Fund-Monthly Dividend1119.04
Reliance Small Cap Fund1079.02
Aditya Birla Sun Life Focused Equity Fund1007.70
Aditya Birla Sun Life Equity Hybrid’95 Fund987.84
Parag Parikh Long Term Equity Fund992.31
HDFC Arbitrage Fund Wholesale Plan Monthly Dividend Option939.04
L&T India Value Fund844.65
DSPFocus Fund838.86
Reliance Arbitrage Fund831.08
Quantum Long Term Equity Value Fund825.70
Tata India Tax Savings Fund820.95
Franklin India Prima Fund809.53

List of most popular direct plan debt funds

In this case, the list is dominated by liquid funds due to institutional funds. There are many credit risk funds too perhaps because of HNI money? Retail participation in direct plan debt fund is not as high as in the case of equity (source AMFI reports).

The most popular direct plan debt fund has 5.8 times the AUM of its equity counterpart! There are 93 funds with direct AUM of more than 1000 crores. In this case, the dividend option may influence the rankings but there are too many dividend options (monthly weekly, quarterly, general) and it is too much work to add them all!

Scheme  NameAverage AUM (Crores)
Aditya Birla Sun Life Liquid Fund34615.29
SBI Liquid Fund28596.44
ICICI Prudential Liquid Fund28413.53
HDFC Liquid Fund27664.97
Reliance Liquid Fund25646.63
UTI-Liquid Cash Plan24096.51
DSPLiquidity Fund16418.04
Kotak Liquid16139.52
Axis Liquid Fund15310.41
Tata Liquid Fund14104.18
Aditya Birla Sun Life Savings Fund10889.67
Aditya Birla Sun Life Corporate Bond Fund10865.43
L&T Liquid Fund10823.53
HDFC Corporate Bond Fund9400.804
IDFC Cash Fund9153.899
ICICI Prudential Savings Fund8942.688
Invesco India Liquid Fund8777.917
IDFC CBF_Direct Plan_Growth8534.492
ICICI Prudential Liquid Fund  – Daily Dividend8417.805
Reliance Short Term Fund8011.791
SBI Liquid Fund  -Daily Dividend7804.961
Reliance Low Duration Fund7795.236
Kotak Bond Short Term Plan-(Growth)7140.303
UTI – Short Term Income Fund -Institutional6419.813
UTI – Treasury Advantage Fund – Institutional6288.717
UTI-Liquid Cash Plan  – Daily Dividend Option6162.252
HDFC Short Term Debt Fund6079.536
HDFC Floating Rate Debt Fund5963.631
Kotak Savings Fund5429.894
Aditya Birla Sun Life Liquid Fund – Daily Dividend5263.392
Reliance Floating Rate Fund5145.698
Sundaram Money Fund5137.004
ICICI Prudential Short Term Fund4418.042
Aditya Birla Sun Life Floating Rate Fund-Long Term Plan-Direct Plan4186.727
ICICI Prudential Banking and PSU Debt Fund4034.811
Axis Short Term Fund4005.467
Reliance Prime Debt Fund3968.614
Franklin India Ultra Short Bond Fund – Super Institutional Plan3914.585
ICICI Prudential Floating Interest Fund3862.896
ICICI Prudential Money Market Fund Option3855.913
IDFC Bond Fund – Short Term Plan3750.686
Aditya Birla Sun Life Banking & PSU Debt Fund3738.216
ICICI Prudential Corporate Bond Fund3719.508
HDFC Liquid Fund – Daily Dividend Option3550.354
HDFC Credit Risk Debt Fund Option3450.669
Reliance Liquid Fund  Daily Dividend Reinvestment Option3429.688
Tata Short Term Bond Fund3371.88
Aditya Birla Sun Life Money Manager Fund3259.421
DSPLow Duration Fund3126.946
IDFC Low Duration Fund2531.419
Reliance Banking& PSU Debt Fund Plan-2495.577
Franklin India Liquid Fund – Super Instittutional2473.465
DSPShort Term Fund2375.121
Kotak Liquid – Daily Dividend2355.314
Franklin India SHORT TERM INCOME PLAN2266.005
ICICI Prudential Credit Risk Fund2195.691
HDFC Banking and PSU Debt Fund2149.514
HDFC FMP 1114D MARCH 2016 (1) Option2139.138
Tata Treasury Advantage Fund2080.49
UTI – Ultra Short Term Fund2078.048
Kotak Money Market Scheme – (Growth)2042.641
L&T Short Term Bond Fund- Growth2024.766
Reliance Credit Risk Fund Plan2011.549
Reliance Strategic Debt Fund1931.751
Aditya Birla Sun Life Low duration Fund1904.88
Aditya Birla Sun Life Credit Risk Fund1824.866
Axis Liquid Fund  – Daily Dividend Option1776.433
Aditya Birla Sun Life Medium Term Plan1775.979
DSPUltra Short Fund1686.316
Invesco India Short Term Fund1659.945
Kotak Low Duration Fund-1637.27
ICICI Prudential Bond Fund1602.227
Axis Treasury Advantage Fund1507.434
Aditya Birla Sun Life Dynamic Bond Fund1483.38
UTI MMF1452.489
Franklin India Low Duration Fund1416.435
DSPLiquidity Fund  – Daily Dividend1328.44
ICICI Prudential Savings Fund  – Daily Dividend1297.79
HDFC Floating Rate Debt Fund  – Monthly Div1233.049
HDFC FMP 1167D January 2016 (1) Option1227.622
ICICI Prudential Medium Term Bond Fund1204.079
HDFC Low Duration Fund-Direct Plan1200.499
Reliance Fixed Horizon Fund XXXVIII- Series 6  Option1198.456
Reliance Liquid Fund – Cash Plan Plan1161.554
UTI Credit Risk Fund1153.235
IDFC Bond Fund – Medium Term Plan-Direct Plan1081.109
DSPBanking & PSU Debt Fund1073.724
IDFCDynamic Bond Fund-Direct Plan1062.342
Kotak Credit Risk Fund1043.808
L&T Ultra Short Term Fund-Direct Plan973.5448
SBI DEBT FUND SERIES C -15 (91 DAYS)969.1325
Reliance Yearly Interval Fund – Series 1 Plan969.0156
ICICI Prudential All Seasons Bond Fund961.9214
Tata Money Market Fund- Growth959.0258
Tata Liquid Fund-Daily Dividend947.0427
HDFC Money Market Fund939.2151
Kotak Money Market Scheme – (Daily Dividend)862.479
DSPCredit Risk Fund861.5198
Franklin India Credit Risk Fund853.9758
Invesco India Treasury Advantage Fund832.1517
HDFC FMP 1158D February 2018 (1)-Direct Option Option815.2375

What are your impressions?

What do you make out of this list? Is it as per your expectations or were there surprises? Let me know in the comments section.

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of freefincal.com.  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, 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. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. How can I join the facebook group mentioned in the article? I think it will be wonderful to learn from experts there.

    1. Mirae funds are not in the list at all!! Mirae emerging blue chip and Indoa equity funds have been outperforming the benchmark.Any specific reason?

  2. Sir
    How will the returns of a direct investor be affected by knowing the split of regular versus direct

    Do we mean that the AMC AUM with larger percentage of regular part will give lesser return?

    Since direct.option came around 2013, the regular to direct component will always be in favor of regular at present, especially the older established funds with larger AUM

    Please enlighten and oblige

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