Short Term vs Long Term Mutual Funds

Short-term mutual funds are good for people who don't want to take big risks with their money. Long-term mutual funds are better for people who are okay with taking a bit more risk and leaving their money invested for a longer time.
Short Term vs Long Term Mutual Funds
3 mins

Short-term vs long-term mutual funds offer distinct benefits tailored to investors' varied financial goals and timelines. Short-term mutual funds typically encompass investments with durations ranging from a few months to a couple of years. These funds are ideal for investors seeking quick returns or those with immediate liquidity needs. They often involve lower risk profiles and may include assets like money market funds or short-duration bond funds.

On the other hand, long-term mutual funds cater to investors with a more extended investment horizon, typically spanning several years or even decades. These funds focus on wealth accumulation over time, offering higher growth potential but with a greater degree of market volatility. Long-term mutual funds commonly invest in equities, balanced funds, or diversified portfolios aiming to generate substantial returns over the long haul. Investors often choose between short-term and long-term mutual funds based on their financial objectives, risk tolerance, and investment timeframes.

Difference between long-terms mutual funds and short-term mutual funds

Here are some of the differences between short-term and long-term investments in mutual funds:

  • Interest rate
    Short-term funds are not as sensitive to interest rate movements as long-term mutual fund investments.
  • Returns
    Short-term investments generate higher returns compared to traditional investments like fixed deposits. Long-term investments in mutual funds generate even better returns along with the benefit of compounding.
  • Risk
    Short-term mutual fund investments have low risks compared to long-term investments.
  • Goals
    Short-term investments are more suitable for short-term goals like travelling and wedding ceremonies. In contrast, long-term investments are ideal for goals like retirement or children’s education.
  • Duration
    Short-term mutual fund investments are generally meant for tenure of up to 3 years. Long-term mutual fund investments require a minimum tenure of 5 years.

Long-term investment in mutual fund

When a person decides to remain invested in a mutual fund for a tenure exceeding 1 year, it is known as a long-term investment. Financial experts consider equity funds and hybrid schemes to be appropriate for such investments. A long-term investment can help tackle market volatility and create wealth for various long-term goals. Long term investment in mutual fund allows you to reinvest your earnings, dividends, or interest back into the investment, and increase the potential for growth exponentially.

On our platform we have around 12 different categories of equity and 7 categories of hybrid funds from the best AMCs in the country to choose from depending on your investment needs.

What are long duration mutual funds?

Long duration mutual funds aim to capture returns from longer-term fluctuations in interest rates. Unlike ultra-short term funds that focus on very short-term debt (less than a year), long duration funds invest in securities with maturities stretching from several years to even decades, like government bonds. This extended time horizon makes them more sensitive to interest rate changes. When rates fall, the value of the fund's holdings typically rises, potentially leading to higher returns for investors. Conversely, if interest rates climb, the fund's value might decrease. Due to this sensitivity, long duration funds are generally considered suitable for investors with a longer investment horizon (over 5 years) and a higher tolerance for risk.

How do long duration funds work?

Long duration or long-term mutual funds are a specific type of mutual fund that focuses on investing in bonds with maturities stretching beyond 5 years. These bonds can be issued by corporations with strong creditworthiness. The extended time horizon allows these funds to potentially benefit from long-term interest rate trends. However, this long-term focus also exposes them to fluctuations throughout the entire economic cycle, making them inherently riskier compared to other debt funds with shorter maturities.

Features of long-term funds

Consider these factors about long-term mutual funds to make an informed decision:

  • Fund manager: Long-term funds are overseen by a fund manager who makes investment decisions on your behalf. Their expertise in navigating markets and selecting promising stocks is crucial for your fund's performance.
  • Investment strategy: You have two main ways to invest: a lump sum, where you invest a larger amount upfront, or a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) which allows you to consistently invest smaller amounts at regular intervals. SIPs can help with budgeting and potentially benefit from rupee-cost averaging.
  • Market exposure: Remember, long-term funds primarily invest in equities (stocks) which are inherently risky due to market fluctuations. However, the extended investment horizon allows these funds to potentially ride out market volatility and generate higher returns compared to other asset classes.

Benefits of long-term mutual funds

Long-term mutual funds offer several advantages for investors seeking to build wealth over time. These benefits include:

  1. Compounding: Long-term mutual funds harness the power of compounding, where returns are reinvested, leading to exponential growth of the investment over time.
  2. Lower transaction costs: Long-term funds typically have lower turnover ratios, resulting in fewer buying and selling activities. This minimises the expenses associated with frequent trading, ultimately benefiting the investor in the long run.
  3. Reduced tax liability: Holding investments for more than a year often qualifies for favourable tax treatment, potentially resulting in lower capital gains taxes compared to short-term funds.
  4. Opportunity to ride out market cycles: By holding investments for the long haul, investors have the opportunity to weather market volatility and benefit from overall market growth, thus potentially maximising returns over time.

How long to remain invested in mutual funds?

The answer to this will vary from one investor to another. Short-Term Capital Gains (STCG) taxation is applicable when one holds units of equity mutual funds for less than a year. Beyond 12 months, the returns are classified as long-term capital gains. One may want to stay invested longer to benefit from the lower LTCG tax rate. But many people wonder whether a long tenure of around 12 to 24 months is enough for earning adequate returns. It might be enough if the market is on the rise. Investors should note that they may not earn high returns consistently for long-term mutual fund investments. In bearish markets, one may experience long periods of losses.

Many financial experts believe that an investor’s time in the market should be if it takes for him/her to fulfil investment goals. The duration of your goal determines which mutual funds to invest in. Examples of short-term goals include temporarily parking funds or saving money for a vacation. Retirement plans and children’s education are examples of long-term goals.

You can also use the Bajaj Finance SIP calculator to understand the kind of returns a mutual fund will yield depending on its investment tenure.

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Things to keep in mind for investing in long-term funds

Before starting a long-term investment in mutual funds, one should consider the following things:

  • Investors need to have a proper investment strategy to reach their life goals. They must take their risk-taking capacity into account before formulating one. Furthermore, they need to be disciplined enough to stick to the investment strategy.
  • A person needs to conduct thorough research to identify the best mutual fund for long-term investment.
  • It is advisable to undertake a comparative analysis because it helps in understanding how a certain fund has performed against its benchmark and peers.
  • It is important to be patient to earn returns from long-term mutual fund investments.
  • Always check the Riskometer tool on our website before investing in a fund. The tool stipulated by SEBI reflects the current risk of the scheme at a given point of time.

Who Might Consider Long-Term Investment Strategies?

Investors with a long-term financial horizon, typically ranging from several years to decades, may consider long-term investment strategies. These investors are often focused on wealth accumulation for major life goals such as retirement, buying a home, or funding their children's education. They are generally willing to endure market volatility, as they have time to ride out market fluctuations and benefit from the power of compounding. Long-term strategies often involve equity-oriented mutual funds, which have historically shown the potential for significant growth over extended periods.

What are short-term mutual funds?

Short-term funds, categorized as debt funds, extend loans to companies for a duration spanning 1 to 3 years. These funds typically focus on reputable companies with a demonstrated history of timely loan repayment and ample cash flows from their business activities to support their borrowing.

How do short-duration funds work?

Let us break down how short-duration funds operate. First, it is crucial to grasp the concept of interest rate risk. This risk refers to how a fund's value reacts to changes in market interest rates. Simply put, longer-term bonds are more sensitive to these fluctuations.

Duration: Think of duration as a measure of a fund's sensitivity to interest rate movements. The higher the duration, the greater the potential for price swings. Short-duration funds, as the name suggests, aim to minimise this risk by primarily investing in securities maturing within 1 to 3 years, as defined by regulatory guidelines.

Investment portfolio: Short-duration funds offer a diversified mix of debt instruments. They might hold:

  • Corporate bonds: Issued by companies, these offer potentially higher returns but carry some credit risk.
  • Government securities: Considered relatively low risk, these are bonds issued by the government.
  • Securitised debt: This involves bundled financial assets like loans or mortgages.
  • Money market instruments: These highly liquid assets, like certificates of deposit (CDs) and treasury bills, provide immediate cash flow.

Generating returns: Short-duration funds earn returns in two ways:

  • Interest income: The fund receives regular interest payments on the debt instruments it holds.
  • Capital gains: When market interest rates fall, existing bonds become more valuable, leading to capital gains. Conversely, rising interest rates cause capital losses. This effect is generally amplified in funds with a higher duration. By strategically managing the fund's duration, managers can attempt to capitalize on favorable interest rate movements.

Short-duration funds offer a balance between potential returns and risk. They provide higher returns compared to ultra-short-term funds while maintaining lower volatility than long-term bond funds. Remember, there's always a trade-off between risk and reward.

Benefits of short-term mutual funds

Short-term mutual funds provide investors with various advantages tailored to their immediate financial needs and risk preferences. These benefits include:

  1. Liquidity: Short-term funds boast high liquidity, enabling investors to swiftly access their funds without incurring substantial penalties or losses, making them suitable for emergency expenses or short-term goals.
  2. Lower volatility: Compared to long-term funds, short-term funds typically exhibit lower volatility, making them an appealing option for risk-averse investors or those with short-term financial objectives seeking stability in their investments.
  3. Flexibility: Investors enjoy the flexibility to reallocate their investments to seize new opportunities without being bound by long-term commitments, offering them the agility to adapt to changing market conditions or investment strategies.
  4. Potential for higher yields: Despite their lower risk profile, short-term funds can still yield attractive returns compared to traditional savings accounts or certificates of deposit, providing investors with the potential for higher yields while maintaining a degree of security.

Things to keep in mind before investing in short-term funds

  • Investors who don't mind taking on some interest rate risk in exchange for better returns can start with short-duration funds.
  • In general, these funds produce reliable short-term incomes. However, if interest rates unexpectedly fluctuate, fund prices may experience significant volatility.
  • When a short-term fund is redeemed after being held for more than three years, the benefit of indexation kicks in, resulting in lower taxes for investors.

Who Might Consider Short-Term Investment Strategies?

Short-term investment strategies are suitable for investors with immediate or near-future financial needs. These could include building an emergency fund, saving for a short-term goal like a vacation, or having cash readily available for unforeseen expenses. Such investors prioritise capital preservation and liquidity over long-term growth. They often choose debt funds or money market funds, which are less volatile and offer quicker access to funds. Short-term strategies focus on minimising risk and maintaining the value of invested capital rather than significant wealth appreciation.

Taxability of short-term funds

Short-term funds are particularly suitable for investors who prioritise safeguarding their capital and earning interest from the debt portfolio.

Regarding taxation, under the Budget 2020 amendments, dividends earned on mutual funds are added to the total income and taxed according to the investor's income tax slab. The taxation of these debt funds is as follows:

  • If the holding period of the debt investment is less than 36 months, it is taxed based on the individual's income tax slab and categorised as a short-term investment.
  • If the holding period of the debt investment exceeds 36 months, it is considered a long-term investment and taxed at 20% with indexation benefits.

Short-term mutual funds offer the option of a growth plan, where the tax treatment mirrors that of a bank fixed deposit. Alternatively, investors can choose dividend options, where the income from the investment is exempt from tax.


To sum up, people need to check their financial goals, and risk appetites and choose long-term or short-term mutual funds accordingly. Financial experts advise people to start investing as soon as possible as it helps to build a substantial corpus by the time one retires. To get more information on mutual funds and start your investment journey, download the Bajaj Finance app. The app also helps you with tools to manage your investments and hence is a one-stop solution to your investment needs.

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Frequently asked questions

Which is better, short term or long term investment?

Short-term vs long-term investments depend on individual financial goals. Short-term investments offer quick returns and liquidity, suitable for immediate needs. Long-term investments provide higher growth potential over time, ideal for building wealth and retirement planning.

Why is long term better than short term investment?

Long-term investments tend to outperform short-term ones due to the power of compounding. They offer higher growth potential, lower transaction costs, and favourable tax treatment. Additionally, long-term investing allows investors to ride out market fluctuations and benefit from overall market growth.

Which is more expensive short term or long term investment?

Short-term investments typically incur higher transaction costs due to frequent buying and selling activities. In contrast, long-term investments often have lower turnover ratios, resulting in reduced expenses associated with trading, making them more cost-effective in the long run.

What are the disadvantages of short term investing?

Short-term investing may involve higher volatility and lower returns compared to long-term investments. Additionally, short-term gains are subject to higher tax rates, and the need for constant monitoring and frequent trading can increase transaction costs, reducing overall profitability.

Which is riskier, short or long-term?

Short-term investments tend to be riskier due to higher market volatility and uncertainty over short periods. Long-term investments offer the potential to withstand market fluctuations and provide smoother returns over extended periods, reducing overall risk.

How many years are considered long term investing?

Long-term investing typically refers to holding investments for more than five years, although the exact duration may vary depending on individual financial goals and risk tolerance. Generally, longer investment horizons allow for the benefits of compounding and market growth to materialise effectively.

Which short-duration mutual funds are recommended for investment in 2024?

The choice of Short Duration Mutual Funds for 2024 investment depends on factors like historical performance, management expertise, and alignment with individual investment goals.

What is the optimal investment duration for short-duration mutual funds?

The ideal investment duration in short-duration mutual funds varies based on individual financial objectives and risk tolerance, but generally, a duration of 1-3 years is advisable to balance growth potential with risk management.

Where do short-duration mutual funds allocate their investments?

Short-duration mutual funds typically invest in a diversified portfolio of short-term debt instruments, including corporate bonds, government securities, and money market instruments, aiming to optimise returns while managing risk exposure.

How long should one remain invested in long-duration mutual funds?

The recommended investment horizon for long-duration mutual funds depends on individual financial goals, but typically, investors should consider staying invested for 5-10 years or more to maximise potential returns and mitigate short-term market volatility.

In what assets do long-duration mutual funds primarily invest?

Long-duration mutual funds primarily allocate their investments to long-term government securities and corporate bonds with maturities exceeding 7 years, aiming to capitalise on potential returns over extended timeframes.

Are long-duration mutual funds considered high risk?

Yes, long-duration mutual funds are generally considered to carry higher risk due to their longer investment horizon, making them more sensitive to interest rate fluctuations and market volatility compared to short-term investments.

What kind of returns can one expect from long-duration mutual funds?

Long-duration mutual funds have the potential to offer higher returns compared to short-term investments like bank deposits or money market funds, but they also entail greater market risk and may experience periods of volatility.

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