Open-Ended Mutual Funds vs. Closed-Ended Mutual Funds: Key Differences Explained

by Alina Khan

Published On June 19, 2024

In this article

In the diverse world of mutual funds , investors often face the choice between open-ended and closed-ended structures, each offering distinct characteristics and investment approaches. This article aims to delineate the difference between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds, providing a clear understanding of open-end vs closed-end funds. Open-ended funds are characterized by their flexibility in allowing investors to buy and sell shares directly from the fund at net asset value (NAV) that is calculated daily.

In contrast, closed-ended funds have a fixed number of shares and are traded among investors on an exchange. The trading price of closed-ended mutual funds can therefore diverge from the NAV , depending on market demand and supply. By exploring how each type of fund operates, this comparison will equip investors with the necessary information to decide whether an open-ended fund or a closed-ended fund better suits their financial goals and investment strategies.

What is Open-Ended Mutual Fund?

An open-ended mutual fund is a type of investment that offers high liquidity and flexibility to investors, distinguishing it sharply in the open end vs closed end funds debate. These funds are a popular choice among individual investors due to their unique characteristics that differ significantly from those of closed-ended funds, highlighting the difference between open ended and closed ended mutual funds.

Characteristics of Open-Ended Funds:

  • Unlimited Issuance: Open-ended funds do not have a fixed number of shares. Instead, they continuously issue new shares or redeem existing shares based on investor demand. This feature ensures that new investors can always enter the fund, and existing investors can exit at their convenience.

  • NAV Pricing: Shares in an open-ended fund are bought and sold at the Net Asset Value (NAV), which is recalculated at the end of each trading day based on the total market value of the fund's holdings. The NAV reflects the current value of a share in the mutual fund and changes daily with fluctuations in market prices of the fund’s assets.

  • Direct Transactions: Transactions in open-ended mutual funds are conducted directly with the fund, meaning that investors buy shares from and sell them back to the fund itself, rather than trading them on the open market. This process simplifies transactions and ensures that trades reflect the most recent NAV, free from market pricing discrepancies.

  • Liquidity and Flexibility: One of the most significant advantages of an open-ended fund is its liquidity. Investors can typically buy or sell shares at any time without restrictions on the number of units they can transact. This makes open-ended funds particularly attractive to those who require regular access to their money.

  • Exit Load: While these funds offer high liquidity, they may charge an exit load—a fee for redeeming shares within a certain period after purchase. This fee is generally used to discourage short-term trading and to stabilize the fund’s asset base.

What is Close-Ended Mutual Fund?

A closed-ended mutual fund operates distinctly within the open end vs closed end funds spectrum, showcasing specific characteristics that define the difference between open ended and closed ended mutual funds. Unlike their open-ended counterparts, closed-ended funds provide a fixed number of shares and offer a structure more akin to that of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) than traditional mutual funds.

Characteristics of Closed-Ended Funds:

  • Fixed Number of Shares: Closed-ended funds issue a set number of shares through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) or New Fund Offer (NFO) . Once issued, no new shares are created, nor are existing shares redeemed by the fund.

  • Market Trading: Unlike open-ended funds, closed-ended fund shares are not bought and sold based on their NAV directly from the fund . Instead, they are traded on stock exchanges, similar to stocks, where their price is determined by market supply and demand.

  • Pricing Variations: The trading price of closed-ended funds may not always align with their Net Asset Value (NAV) . These funds can trade at a premium or a discount to the NAV depending on investor perception, market conditions, and demand-supply dynamics in the market.

  • Limited Liquidity: Since the number of shares is fixed and trading depends on buyer availability in the market, closed-ended funds typically exhibit lower liquidity compared to open-ended funds. This characteristic can make it challenging for investors to sell their shares quickly at a desired price.

  • Maturity Period: Closed-ended funds generally have a predetermined maturity period. At the end of this period, the fund is either liquidated, and the proceeds are distributed among the investors, or it is converted into an open-ended fund, providing more flexibility for the remaining investors.

  • Buyback Options: Some closed-ended funds provide a buyback option, allowing investors to sell their shares back to the fund at certain intervals before maturity. This feature offers a potential exit route but is subject to the fund’s specific terms and conditions.

Difference Between Open-Ended and Close-Ended Mutual Funds

The distinction between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds is crucial for investors deciding which investment vehicle best suits their financial goals. Below is a detailed tabular comparison that highlights the critical differences based on various aspects:

Comparison Basis

Open-Ended Funds

Closed-Ended Funds


Continuously offer new units to investors.

Offer new units only for a limited period.


Available for subscription throughout the year.

Subscription is only open during specific periods.


Allows investments through SIPs or lump sums

Only lump sum investments are accepted.


Transactions are executed at the end of the trading day.

Transactions are executed in real-time on the stock market.


No fixed maturity period.

Usually have a fixed maturity period, typically 3-5 years.

Liquidity Provider

Fund itself provides liquidity by issuing and redeeming units.

Liquidity depends on the stock market; units are traded like stocks.


Variable, can increase or decrease depending on demand.

Fixed after the initial offer period.

Price Determination

Price is based on the Net Asset Value (NAV) divided by outstanding shares.

Driven by supply and demand on the stock exchange; can trade at a premium or discount to NAV.


Not listed on stock exchanges; transactions through the fund directly.

Listed and traded on stock exchanges.

Issue Size

Can issue unlimited units based on investor demand.

Has a fixed issue size determined during the offer.


Assets Under Management (AUM) changes as new funds are added or redeemed.

AUM is relatively fixed post-initial offering.

Tax Benefits

Tax benefits available on investments in ELSS schemes.

Typically, no specific tax benefits on investments.

Fund Control

Fund manager’s control may be limited due to potential redemptions.

Fund manager has complete control as there are no redemptions.


Performance and records available for comparison with similar schemes.

Limited historical record, making comparison difficult.

Pros and Cons of Open-Ended Mutual Funds

Open-ended mutual funds are a popular choice among investors due to their flexibility and liquidity. Understanding their advantages and limitations is crucial when considering open end vs closed end funds and evaluating the difference between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds. Here we explore the pros and cons of open-ended funds.

Advantages of Open-Ended Funds

  • High Liquidity: Open-ended funds allow investors to buy and redeem units at any time, based on the fund’s current Net Asset Value (NAV). This high level of liquidity makes it easier for investors to enter or exit investments according to their cash flow needs.

  • Pricing at NAV: Transactions in open-ended funds occur at the prevailing NAV, which is calculated at the end of each trading day. This ensures that purchases and sales of the fund shares are done fairly, reflecting the actual asset value.

  • Historical Performance Data: Investors have the ability to review and analyze the historical performance of open-ended funds before making investment decisions, providing a basis for assessing potential returns and risks.

  • Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs): Open-ended funds often allow investments through SIPs , enabling investors to invest a fixed amount regularly. This facilitates disciplined investing and helps in averaging the cost over time.

  • Diversification: Investing in open-ended funds allows investors to diversify their portfolios across a wide range of assets, which can spread risk and increase the potential for returns.

Disadvantages of Open-Ended Funds

  • Market Risk: The high level of diversification, while beneficial in spreading risk, also exposes the fund to market-wide fluctuations that can affect all holdings simultaneously, potentially leading to significant value changes.

  • Timing Risk: Investors in open-ended funds face the risk associated with timing their entry and exit from the market. Misjudging these timings can lead to suboptimal buying or selling prices, affecting overall investment returns.

  • Impact of Management: The performance of open-ended funds heavily relies on fund management. Poor management decisions can dilute the value of the investments, affecting not only individual performance but also the overall health of the fund.

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Pros and Cons of Close-Ended Mutual Funds

Close-ended mutual funds present a unique set of characteristics that differentiate them in the discussion of open end vs closed end funds. Understanding the difference between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds helps investors choose the right type of fund for their investment strategies and goals. Below, we explore the pros and cons of closed-ended funds.

Advantages of Close-Ended Funds

  • Stability of Capital: Close-ended funds have a fixed capital structure, which means no new money flows in or out of the fund after the initial public offering. This fixed capital can lead to more stable management as the fund does not have to deal with frequent cash inflows and outflows.

  • Trading on Exchanges: Unlike open-ended funds, closed-ended funds are traded on stock exchanges. This allows investors to buy and sell shares of the fund on the secondary market like stocks, potentially at prices different from the fund's NAV.

  • Lower Volatility: Due to their fixed structure and the fact that fund managers do not have to sell assets to meet redemptions, closed-ended funds may experience less volatility compared to open-ended funds.

  • Investment Horizon: With their fixed term, closed-ended funds can be ideal for medium to long-term investments. They allow investors to plan for a longer investment period without the concern of others redeeming and potentially hurting the fund's performance.

  • Market Timing Reduction: Investors in closed-ended funds typically do not focus on short-term fluctuations and market timing, allowing more time for their investment to potentially grow based on market and economic fundamentals.

Disadvantages of Close-Ended Funds

  • Limited Liquidity: Although these funds are traded on stock exchanges, they often suffer from lower liquidity compared to their open-ended counterparts. This can make it difficult to buy or sell shares at desired prices.

  • Misalignment with Investment Goals: The fixed term of closed-ended funds might not always align with an investor's financial goals , especially if the fund's maturity does not match the investor's investment horizon.

  • Premiums or Discounts to NAV: Since these funds trade based on market dynamics, they can trade at significant premiums or discounts to their NAV. This pricing can be a disadvantage if an investor needs to sell when the fund is trading at a discount.

Which Type of Mutual Fund is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds, the decision hinges on understanding the difference between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds. Each type offers unique benefits and suits different investment strategies and goals. Below, we explore which type might be more appropriate for you based on specific financial needs and preferences, integrating the key aspects of open end vs closed end funds.

Open-Ended Funds: Ideal for Flexibility and Liquidity

Open-ended funds are an excellent choice if:

  • Liquidity is a Priority: You value the ability to quickly and easily cash out your investments without significant constraints or penalties.

  • Convenience is Key: You appreciate the ease of buying and redeeming fund shares directly with the fund at the current Net Asset Value (NAV), which reflects up-to-date pricing on your investments.

  • Flexibility Matters: You seek the ability to adjust your investment allocations in response to market conditions or personal financial changes.

  • Regular Investments: You are interested in making regular investments through Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) or want to use Systematic Withdrawal Plans (SWPs) for steady income, which are features typically available only with open-ended funds.

Closed-Ended Funds: Suitable for Long-Term, Stable Investments

Closed-ended funds may be more suitable if:

  • Fixed Investment Period: You are looking for investment opportunities where you can commit your money for a set period without the need to access these funds prematurely.

  • No Immediate Liquidity Required: You do not need immediate access to your money and are comfortable with the idea that trading these funds occurs through the stock market, which may not always guarantee immediate liquidity.

  • Long-Term Financial Goals: You have a long-term financial outlook and are investing with a medium to long-term perspective, allowing you to ride out market fluctuations and potentially benefit from higher returns on more stable, long-term investments.

  • Comfort with Set Terms: You prefer investing in a vehicle that doesn’t fluctuate with daily market changes in terms of fund size and capital, offering a more predictable investment environment.

Making the Decision

Choosing between an open-ended fund and a closed-ended fund involves assessing your financial objectives, investment horizon, liquidity needs, and how actively you want to manage your investments. Open-ended funds offer more active management opportunities and easier access to your money, making them suitable for those who may need to adjust their investment strategies frequently or require regular liquidity. In contrast, closed-ended funds are more passive, suited for investors who can lock away capital for longer periods and prefer a potentially less volatile investment.

Read this article to understand How many funds should you have in your Mutual Fund Portfolio?


Choosing between open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds requires a nuanced understanding of each type's distinct characteristics and how they align with individual investment goals and strategies. As we have explored the key differences, advantages, and disadvantages associated with each, it becomes evident that the decision largely depends on the investor's liquidity needs, investment horizon, and comfort with market fluctuations.

Open-ended funds provide great flexibility and constant liquidity, making them suitable for investors who may need regular access to their money or prefer systematic investment plans. On the other hand, closed-ended funds offer a more stable investment environment with potentially less volatility, appealing to those who can commit capital over a set term and are comfortable trading units on the secondary market.

Ultimately, whether you choose an open-ended or closed-ended fund should reflect your financial goals , risk tolerance , and investment strategy. By carefully considering the detailed insights provided, investors can make informed decisions that not only enhance their portfolio's performance but also match their long-term financial aspirations. Understanding these differences is crucial for crafting a diversified investment portfolio that stands resilient in varying market conditions.

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  1. What is the main difference between open-ended and close-ended mutual funds?

The main difference lies in liquidity and trading. Open-ended funds allow investors to buy and sell shares directly with the fund at any time based on the net asset value (NAV), while closed-ended funds have a fixed number of shares that are traded on stock exchanges at market prices, which can differ from the NAV.

  1. Are close-ended mutual funds riskier than open-ended ones?

Not necessarily. While the trading dynamics differ—closed-ended funds can trade at a premium or discount to their NAV—the actual risk depends more on the fund's investment objectives, the assets within the fund, and market conditions rather than the fund's structure.

  1. Can I redeem my investment anytime in a close ended mutual fund?

No, in closed-ended mutual funds, you cannot redeem your shares directly with the fund before maturity. You can sell your shares to another investor on the stock exchange, but the ability to do so will depend on market demand.

  1. What happens to a close ended mutual fund at maturity?

At maturity, a closed-ended mutual fund typically either distributes its net asset value to the shareholders or converts into an open-ended fund, allowing for new and existing investors to continue participating or to redeem their investments according to their needs.

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