Direct vs Regular Mutual Fund: Which is Good?

by Siddharth Singh Bhaisora

Published On March 26, 2024

In this article

In the world of investment, the choice between direct vs regular mutual fund represents a pivotal decision for individuals aiming to optimize their financial growth. Direct mutual funds stand out as a cost-effective option, enabling investors to purchase shares directly from the fund house, thereby eliminating intermediary fees. This direct approach not only streamlines the investment process but also significantly reduces the expense ratio, a critical factor affecting the fund's overall performance and the investor's net returns. By bypassing intermediaries such as brokers, advisors, or banks, investors in direct mutual funds enjoy the dual benefits of lower costs and potentially higher returns over the long term. Conversely, regular mutual funds are tailored for investors who prefer the guidance and expertise of financial intermediaries. These funds incorporate intermediary costs into their expense ratio, resulting in a slightly diminished net asset value (NAV) and potentially lower returns compared to their direct counterparts. However, the value of regular mutual funds transcends mere numbers; they offer personalized advice, ongoing portfolio management, and a hassle-free investment experience, making them an attractive choice for individuals new to investing or those who prefer a hands-off approach.

The dichotomy between direct vs regular mutual funds encapsulates a broader conversation about cost efficiency versus the value of professional guidance. Investors must navigate this landscape by assessing their financial literacy, investment goals, and the level of involvement they desire in managing their investments. This article delves into the key differences between direct and regular mutual funds, aiming to equip investors with the knowledge to make informed decisions.

What is a Regular Mutual Fund?

Regular mutual funds are investment avenues where you invest through an intermediary, such as a financial advisor or a bank's relationship manager. The presence of intermediaries results in higher expense ratios for these funds, as the fund houses compensate them with commissions. These plans are particularly suited to investors who prefer continuous support and guidance, offering a hands-on approach to investment decision-making.

  • Intermediaries' Role: Financial advisors or banks act as the bridge between investors and fund houses, facilitating transactions and providing advice.

  • Expense Ratio Implications: Higher expense ratios due to commissions, affecting the Net Asset Value (NAV) and, potentially, the returns.

What is a Direct Mutual Fund?

Direct mutual funds are those where investors buy directly from the investment company, eliminating the need for intermediaries. This direct approach often results in lower expense ratios, as there are no commission fees involved. Direct mutual funds appeal to savvy investors who are comfortable managing their investments without intermediary guidance.

  • Commission-Free Investing: Direct investment with fund houses means no intermediaries and, thus, no commission fees.

  • Expense Ratio Advantage: Lower expense ratios due to the absence of intermediary costs, potentially improving investment returns.

Direct vs Regular Mutual Fund Plans: Key Differences

The difference between mutual fund regular vs direct lies primarily in their cost structure and investment approach.

  • Net Asset Value (NAV): Regular plans typically have a lower NAV compared to direct plans due to the higher expense ratio, which incorporates commissions.

  • Returns: Direct plans often yield higher returns owing to their lower expense ratio, as they bypass the cost of distributor commissions.

  • Role of Financial Advisor: Direct plans allow you to invest independently, without advisor intervention, making them suitable for self-reliant investors. In contrast, regular plans involve financial advisors who guide the investment process.

Here are the key differences between direct vs regular mutual fund:


Direct Mutual Fund

Regular Mutual Fund

Expense Ratio

Lower, due to no commission paid to intermediaries.

Higher, includes commission paid to intermediaries.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

Generally higher due to lower expense ratio.

Lower compared to direct plans, due to higher expense ratio.


Potentially higher over the long term due to lower costs.

Potentially lower returns due to the higher expense ratio.

Investment Process

Investors deal directly with the fund house, no middlemen.

Investments are made through a financial advisor or broker.

Advisor Involvement

No financial advisor role; investors make decisions independently.

Financial advisors offer guidance and advice on investments.

Access to Information

Investors may need to seek out information and perform their own research.

Financial advisors can provide insights and updates about the fund.


Suited for those comfortable with managing their own investments and research.

Ideal for investors who prefer having a guided investment experience.

Monitoring & Review

Self-monitored, requiring investors to track performance and make adjustments.

Regular reviews and portfolio adjustments are often provided by advisors.

Goal-Based Planning

Investors are responsible for aligning investments with their financial goals.

Advisors help in creating a plan tailored to meet specific financial objectives.

Pros and Cons of Direct Mutual Funds

When we look at mutual fund direct vs regular funds, direct mutual funds offer a cost-efficient investment route for savvy investors, highlighted by their lower expense ratios due to the absence of intermediary commissions. This advantage directly translates into potentially higher returns over the long term, as every saved penny contributes to the investment's growth. Investors enjoy greater control and transparency over their investments, as they deal directly with the fund houses, making these plans particularly appealing to those who prefer to take charge of their financial destiny.

However, the benefits of direct vs. regular mutual funds come with the responsibility of self-management, which requires a significant amount of effort, time, and knowledge from the investor. The lack of personalized financial advice means investors must navigate the complexities of the market on their own, making it a less suitable option for novices or those who prefer a hands-off investment approach. The operational challenges of selecting and managing investments can also be daunting, requiring a solid understanding of mutual funds to achieve the desired financial outcomes.

Pros of Direct Mutual Funds

Cons of Direct Mutual Funds

Lower Expense Ratios: Since there are no intermediary commissions, the expense ratio is lower, enhancing potential returns.

Requires More Effort: Investors need to research and manage their investments independently, which can be daunting for some.

Higher Returns Over the Long Term: The savings on costs directly contribute to higher net returns for the investor.

Lack of Personalized Advice: Without financial advisors, investors miss out on tailored investment advice and strategies.

Greater Control Over Investments: Investors have complete autonomy in making investment decisions.

Operational Challenges: Direct plan investors might find the process of selecting and managing investments more time-consuming.

Transparency: Direct investment with the fund house ensures clarity on where and how the investments are being managed.

Knowledge Requirement: A solid understanding of the mutual fund market is necessary to make informed decisions.

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Pros and Cons of Regular Mutual Funds

Regular mutual funds are synonymous with convenience and support, offering investors the benefit of professional financial advice and portfolio management. This guidance is invaluable for beginners or those who prefer not to dive into the nitty-gritty details of mutual fund investments. When considering regular vs direct mutual funds, for regular mutual funds financial advisors not only assist in selecting the right funds based on the investor's goals and risk appetite but also provide ongoing monitoring and adjustments to the portfolio, ensuring it remains aligned with the investor’s financial objectives. This hands-off approach allows investors to leverage the expertise of professionals, potentially saving time and avoiding costly mistakes.

The main drawback of regular vs direct mutual funds is the higher expense ratios, primarily due to commissions paid to intermediaries. This can lead to lower net returns over the long term, as the additional costs diminish the investment's earning potential. Furthermore, the reliance on financial advisors might result in less control over individual investment choices, and there's a risk that advisors may prioritize funds that offer them higher commissions, possibly at the expense of the investor's best interests. This model of investing also creates a dependency on the advisor's expertise and integrity, which might not always align with the investor’s expectations or financial goals.

While both regular and direct plans offer unique advantages, certain benefits of regular mutual funds stand out for specific investor profiles.

Pros of Regular Mutual Funds

Cons of Regular Mutual Funds

Professional Advice: Investors benefit from the guidance of financial advisors, who can provide valuable investment insights.

Higher Expense Ratios: Commissions for intermediaries lead to higher expense ratios, potentially lowering returns.

Ease of Investment: The process is more straightforward, with advisors handling the selection and management of funds.

Lower Returns Over the Long Term: The higher costs associated with regular funds can eat into the long-term returns.

Monitoring and Portfolio Management: Advisors regularly review and adjust the portfolio to align with investment goals.

Less Control Over Investments: Investors might have less involvement in the direct selection of their investments.

Customized Investment Planning: Financial advisors offer tailored advice, ensuring investments align with personal financial goals.

Dependence on Advisor's Expertise: The quality of investment decisions may heavily depend on the advisor's knowledge and skills.

Support and Handholding: Ideal for beginners or those who prefer a guided investment approach.

Potential for Bias: Advisors might favor certain funds due to higher commissions, which may not always align with the investor's best interest.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Direct Mutual Funds

When choosing between mutual fund regular vs direct, several factors come into play that can influence your decision. Understanding these factors can help align your choice with your investment goals, risk tolerance, and personal preferences. Here’s a detailed look at what to consider:

1. Investment Knowledge and Experience

Suited for investors with a good grasp of the market and those comfortable making their investment decisions. It requires a willingness to research and manage investments independently.

2. Cost and Expense Ratio

Offer lower expense ratios since there are no commissions paid to intermediaries. This cost-efficiency can significantly enhance returns over a prolonged investment period.

3. Service and Support

While cost-effective, they lack the personalized service and advice provided by financial advisors. Investors must be proactive in seeking information, managing their portfolio, and making decisions.

4. Investment Returns

Generally offer higher returns due to lower expense ratios. For investors confident in their investment strategies, this can lead to significant savings and enhanced portfolio growth over time.

5. Ease of Investment

Might require more effort on the part of the investor to research options, make investment decisions, and manage the portfolio. However, digital platforms have made it easier to invest in direct plans, offering tools and resources to assist investors.

6. Risk Management

Investors need to manage risk on their own, requiring a deep understanding of how to balance their portfolio to meet their risk tolerance and investment goals.

Read this article to understand the risks associated with investing in mutual funds.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Regular Mutual Funds

When choosing between direct vs regular mutual funds, several factors come into play that can influence your decision. Let’s look at factors that are important for regular mutual funds investors to consider when investing:

1. Investment Knowledge and Experience

Regular Mutual Funds: Ideal for beginners or those who prefer not to delve deeply into investment research and decision-making. The guidance from financial advisors can be invaluable, especially if you're unfamiliar with the market.

2. Cost and Expense Ratio

Regular Mutual Funds: Typically have higher expense ratios due to the commission paid to intermediaries. This can eat into your returns over the long term, making it important to consider whether the benefits of advisory services justify the higher costs.

3. Service and Support

Regular Mutual Funds: Provide a higher level of service, including investment advice, regular portfolio reviews, and personalized financial planning. This can be particularly valuable for investors who value a hands-off approach or need assistance in understanding complex financial landscapes.

4. Investment Returns

Regular Mutual Funds: The higher expense ratios can potentially lower the net returns. However, the benefit of expert advice and tailored investment strategies might offset the costs for some investors, particularly in navigating volatile markets.

5. Ease of Investment

Regular Mutual Funds: The process is more streamlined with a financial advisor handling most of the legwork, from selecting the right funds to executing transactions. This can be a major advantage for investors who prefer a more hands-off investment experience.

6. Risk Management

Regular Mutual Funds: Financial advisors can help in diversifying investments and adjusting the portfolio based on market conditions and the investor's changing financial situation, potentially offering better risk management.

Read this article to Understanding Mutual Fund Risks: A Comprehensive Guide for Investors in India

The choice between direct vs regular mutual fund should also consider your long-term financial objectives. Whether it's saving for retirement, a child’s education, or another financial goal, the decision of which mutual funds are right for you should align with achieving these objectives efficiently.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are direct mutual funds more cost-effective than regular mutual funds?

Yes, direct mutual funds are more cost-effective compared to regular mutual funds primarily due to the absence of intermediary commissions. This results in lower expense ratios for direct funds, enhancing the potential for higher returns over the long term.

2. Can I switch from a regular mutual fund to a direct mutual fund?

Yes, investors can switch from a regular mutual fund to a direct mutual fund. This process involves redeeming units in the regular plan and then investing the proceeds in the direct plan of the same mutual fund. It's important to consider any applicable exit load and tax implications before making the switch.

3. Do direct mutual funds offer better returns than regular mutual funds?

Direct mutual funds often offer better returns than regular mutual funds over the long term due to their lower expense ratios. The absence of commissions and intermediary fees means a higher portion of the investment's returns is passed on to the investor.

4. How can I invest in direct mutual funds?

Investing in direct mutual funds can be done by directly approaching the mutual fund company through their website, customer service centers, or physical branches. Many digital platforms also allow investors to purchase direct plans online, providing a convenient and efficient way to manage investments.

5. Who should consider investing in direct mutual funds?

Investors who are comfortable managing their investments independently and have a good understanding of mutual fund schemes and the market should consider investing in direct mutual funds. This option is well-suited for those looking to maximize returns by saving on commission costs.

6. Who should consider investing in regular mutual funds?

Investors who prefer having professional guidance, personalized investment advice, and a hands-off approach to managing their investments should consider regular mutual funds. This option is ideal for beginners or those who value the ongoing support and advice from financial advisors.

7. Can I hold direct and regular mutual funds in the same portfolio?

Yes, investors can hold both direct and regular mutual funds in the same portfolio. This approach allows for flexibility in managing investments, where investors can choose to have certain funds under professional guidance while independently managing others to optimize for cost and returns. This strategy can be tailored to match the investor's confidence level, investment knowledge, and time commitment towards managing their portfolio.

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