Mutual Fund


The world of mutual funds can seem labyrinthine to both new and seasoned investors, with various factors influencing the potential for returns. One such critical element is the expense ratio, a fee that can significantly impact the overall performance of online mutual fund investments. This article explores the concept of the expense ratio in mutual funds, its implications for investors, and guidelines for what should be considered an acceptable expense ratio.

Understanding expense ratios in mutual fund

The expense ratio in mutual funds represents the annual fees that mutual funds charge their shareholders. It is expressed as a percentage of the fund's average assets under management (AUM) and covers operational costs, including administrative fees, management salaries, marketing, and distribution expenses. The expense ratio in mutual funds directly reduces the fund's returns to the investors, making it a crucial factor to consider when evaluating mutual fund investments.


The expense ratio in mutual funds is calculated by dividing the fund's total expenses by its average assets under management (AUM). For example, if a mutual fund has Rs. 10 crore in AUM and incurs Rs. 10 lakh in annual operating expenses, its expense ratio would be 1%.

Impact of expense ratios on mutual funds

A high expense ratio in mutual funds can significantly eat into the returns. Especially in a low-return environment, the costs associated with higher expense ratios can diminish the net gains for investors. Conversely, funds with lower expense ratios allow more of the investment returns to be passed on to the investors.

The expense ratio in mutual funds offers a way to compare the cost-efficiency of different funds. However, it is essential to consider them alongside other factors such as fund performance, risk, and investment strategy to make informed decisions.

What should the expense ratio be for mutual funds

Benchmark ratios
There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as acceptable expense ratios can vary widely depending on the type of mutual fund. For example:

  • Due to their passive management strategy, index funds often have lower expense ratios, typically ranging from 0.02% to 0.20%.
  • Actively managed funds tend to have higher expense ratios, sometimes as high as 1% to 2%, reflecting the additional cost of active management and research.


  • Investment strategy: Funds with complex strategies may justify higher expense ratios due to the cost of specialised management.
  • Fund size: Smaller funds may have higher expense ratios as they spread their fixed costs over a smaller asset base.
  • Performance: A higher expense ratio might be acceptable if the fund consistently delivers superior performance net of fees.
  • Guidelines
  • For index funds, look for expense ratios below 0.20%.
  • For actively managed funds, a ratio between 0.50% and 1.00% is generally considered reasonable, though it may vary based on the factors mentioned above.

The expense ratio in mutual funds is a critical metric that directly affects the returns from mutual fund investments. While lower expense ratios are generally preferable, it is important to balance this consideration with other factors, such as the fund's performance history, management quality, and investment objectives. Investors should diligently assess the expense ratio in the context of their overall investment strategy to ensure they are maximising their potential returns while keeping costs in check. By doing so, investors can navigate the mutual fund landscape more effectively, making informed decisions that align with their financial goals.

The consideration of the expense ratio in mutual fund investments, alongside the convenience of online mutual fund investment platforms, plays a pivotal role in shaping an investor's portfolio performance and investment experience. The expense ratio, a critical factor to consider, directly impacts the returns from mutual funds by indicating the percentage of assets deducted for fund management fees. Savvy investors pay close attention to this ratio to maximise their net returns.

Meanwhile, the advent of online mutual fund investment options has revolutionised how investors access and manage their portfolios, offering ease, accessibility, and transparency. This digital shift not only simplifies the investment process but also empowers investors to make informed decisions by easily comparing the expense ratios of various funds. Balancing the cost implications of the expense ratio with the efficiency and accessibility of online mutual fund investments can significantly enhance investment outcomes. By leveraging online platforms to select mutual funds with favourable expense ratios, investors can optimise their investment strategy for better returns and a more satisfying investment journey.