Mutual Funds vs ETF

Learn all about the differences between ETF and mutual funds.
Mutual Funds vs ETF
3 mins read
3 April 2024

Mutual Funds vs ETFs

In investment opportunities, Mutual Funds vs ETFs stand as two titans offering distinct yet appealing benefits. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds are two popular investment vehicles in India that allow investors to gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of securities. ETFs, as the name suggests, are passive investment funds designed to mirror an underlying index or asset. On the other hand, mutual funds are actively managed investments, where fund managers aim to outperform the market through strategic decisions.

Both ETFs and mutual funds present investors with a low-cost pathway to enter the stock market, offering diversification and professional management. However, the distinction lies in their operational mechanisms. ETFs trade on exchanges like stocks, allowing investors to buy and sell throughout the trading day at market prices. Conversely, mutual funds are transacted through a fund house at the Net Asset Value (NAV) at the end of the trading day, a process that requires no direct involvement in market trading.

Knowing the difference between ETF and mutual funds, investors must also evaluate their investment objectives and risk tolerance levels. Each option carries its unique set of advantages and considerations, making informed decision-making crucial for optimising investment strategies. Whether it's the hands-off approach of ETFs or the active management of mutual funds, aligning investment choices with individual financial goals is paramount for long-term success. Investors can utilise tools like SIP calculators and lumpsum calculators available on the Bajaj Finserv Platform to accurately plan and assess their investment strategies, ensuring financial objectives are met effectively.

Overview of mutual funds

Mutual funds offer investors a convenient and diversified approach to investing in the financial markets. These investment vehicles pool money from numerous investors to purchase a portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities managed by professional fund managers. With mutual funds, investors can access a broad range of assets, including equities, fixed income securities, and even commodities, depending on the fund's objectives.

There are various types of mutual funds catering to different investment goals and risk appetites. Investors can choose from equity funds, debt funds, hybrid funds, and more. Each type of mutual fund offers a distinct risk-return profile, allowing investors to tailor their investment strategies according to their preferences and financial objectives. To explore the diverse range of mutual funds available in India, you can refer to this comprehensive overview of types of mutual funds provided by Bajaj Finserv.

Overview of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have gained immense popularity among investors due to their unique characteristics and advantages. Essentially, ETFs are investment funds that are traded on stock exchanges, much like individual stocks. They typically hold assets such as stocks, bonds, or commodities and offer investors exposure to a diversified portfolio within a single investment vehicle. One of the key features of ETFs is their ability to provide instant diversification across various sectors or asset classes, which can help mitigate risks associated with individual securities.

Unlike traditional mutual funds, which are bought and sold based on their net asset value (NAV) at the end of each trading day, ETFs can be traded throughout the day at market prices. This flexibility allows investors to execute trades at any time during market hours, providing them with greater control over their investment decisions. Additionally, ETFs often have lower expense ratios compared to actively managed mutual funds, making them a cost-effective option for investors seeking broad market exposure.

Another notable aspect of ETFs is their tax efficiency. Due to their unique structure, ETFs typically experience fewer capital gains distributions compared to mutual funds, resulting in potentially lower tax liabilities for investors. This tax efficiency can enhance overall returns and is particularly advantageous for long-term investors. Moreover, ETFs offer transparency, as they disclose their holdings on a daily basis, allowing investors to assess the fund's composition and make informed investment choices.

In summary, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) provide investors with a convenient and cost-effective means of accessing diversified portfolios across various asset classes. Their ability to trade like individual stocks, coupled with their tax efficiency and transparency, makes them an attractive option for both novice and seasoned investors alike. By understanding the unique features and benefits of ETFs, investors can effectively incorporate them into their investment strategies to pursue their financial goals.

Mutual funds vs ETFs: The differences

When considering the differences between ETF and mutual funds, investors encounter distinct characteristics that shape their investment choices. ETFs trade on stock exchanges like any other stock, providing high liquidity, while mutual funds are transacted at the end of the day at the NAV price, impacting their liquidity. Additionally, ETFs generally feature lower expense ratios compared to the higher management fees associated with mutual funds.

Key difference between ETF and mutual fund


Mutual fund

Trading And Liquidity

ETFs are traded on the stock exchange like any other stock, making them more liquid.

Mutual funds can only be bought or sold at the end of the day at the NAV price.

Cost Structure

ETFs have lower expense ratios.

Mutual funds have higher management fees.

Investment Approach

ETFs are passively managed, mirroring a particular index, making them less risky and transparent.

Mutual funds are actively managed, with fund managers investing based on analysis and market outlook.

Minimum Investment

ETFs allow investors to start with smaller amounts.

Mutual funds typically require a higher minimum investment.


ETFs are more tax-efficient with lower capital gains tax.

Mutual funds are less tax-efficient.


ETFs offer more targeted investments mirroring specific indexes.

Mutual funds provide more diversification options and exposure to a broader range of securities.

Through these differences, investors can evaluate ETF vs mutual fund options to align with their investment goals and risk tolerance levels. While ETFs offer advantages in liquidity, cost, and tax efficiency, mutual funds provide active management and diversification benefits. Hence, the choice between ETFs and mutual funds depends on individual preferences and financial objectives.

Similarities between ETFs and mutual funds

When comparing similarities between ETFs and mutual funds, several similarities emerge, making them both attractive investment options:

  • Diversified structure: Both mutual funds and ETFs offer investors access to a diversified portfolio of assets, which helps spread risk.
  • Professional management: Both investment vehicles are managed by experienced professionals who make investment decisions on behalf of investors.
  • Variety of choice: Investors can choose from a wide range of mutual funds and ETFs, allowing them to select options that align with their investment objectives and risk tolerance levels.

Types of ETFs and mutual funds

Understanding the various types of ETFs and mutual funds is crucial for investors to align their investment strategies with their financial goals and risk preferences. Here's an overview of the different types:

Types of ETFs

Type of ETF


Equity ETFs

These ETFs invest primarily in stocks of various companies, providing investors with exposure to specific sectors, regions, or market indices.

Bond ETFs

Bond ETFs invest in fixed-income securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, or municipal bonds, offering investors income generation and diversification.

Sector ETFs

Sector ETFs focus on specific sectors of the economy, such as technology, healthcare, or energy, allowing investors to target industries they believe will outperform the broader market.

Commodity ETFs

Commodity ETFs invest in physical commodities like gold, silver, oil, or agricultural products, providing investors with exposure to commodity prices without the need for direct ownership.

International ETFs

International ETFs invest in stocks or bonds of companies located outside the investor's home country, offering diversification and potential growth opportunities in global markets.


Types of mutual funds

Type of Mutual Fund


Equity Funds

Equity funds primarily invest in stocks, aiming for capital appreciation over the long term. They can be further classified based on market capitalization (large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap) or investment style (growth, value, blend).

Debt Funds

Debt funds invest in fixed-income securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, or money market instruments, providing regular income and capital preservation.

Hybrid Funds

Hybrid funds, also known as balanced funds, allocate investments across both stocks and bonds, offering a balanced approach to risk and return.

Index Funds

Index funds replicate the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, by investing in the same securities in the same proportion as the index components.

Tax-Saving Funds (ELSS)

Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) are tax-saving mutual funds that offer tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, along with the potential for long-term capital appreciation through equity investments.

By understanding the characteristics and objectives of each type of ETF and mutual fund, investors can make informed decisions to construct a well-diversified investment portfolio tailored to their needs.


During investing, ETFs and mutual funds stand out as popular choices, each offering unique advantages and considerations. While ETFs provide liquidity, lower expense ratios, and tax efficiency, mutual funds offer active management and broader diversification. Understanding the differences between ETFs vs mutual funds is crucial for investors to align their investment strategies with their financial goals and risk tolerance levels. Ultimately, the decision between the two investment vehicles depends on factors such as investment objectives, time horizon, and personal preferences. Investors can leverage the Bajaj Finserv Mutual Fund Platform to access a diverse range of investment options, with over 1000 mutual funds listed, also giving you the option to compare mutual funds empowering them to make informed decisions tailored to their unique financial aspirations. Fund managers too play an important role in determining the investment habits of an investor.

By carefully assessing the pros and cons of each option, investors can make informed decisions to build a diversified portfolio tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Frequently asked questions

Is it better to invest in ETF or mutual fund?

Both ETFs and mutual funds offer distinct advantages. ETFs provide liquidity and lower expense ratios, while mutual funds offer active management. The choice depends on individual preferences, financial goals, and risk tolerance.

What is the difference between mutual fund NAV and ETF NAV?

The Net Asset Value (NAV) of mutual funds is calculated at the end of the trading day, while ETF NAV fluctuates throughout the trading day as ETFs are traded on exchanges like stocks.

What are the disadvantages of ETF?

ETFs may incur brokerage fees, bid-ask spreads, and tracking errors. Additionally, ETFs may not be suitable for frequent trading due to potential commission costs.

Why choose an ETF over mutual fund?

Investors may prefer ETFs for their intraday trading capability, lower expense ratios, tax efficiency, and transparency in holdings. They also offer diversification and access to specific sectors or asset classes.

Do ETFs grow faster than mutual funds?

The growth of ETFs vs. mutual funds depends on various factors such as market conditions, investment strategies, and fund performance. There's no inherent guarantee that ETFs will grow faster than mutual funds.

Why are mutual funds more expensive than ETFs?

Mutual funds often have higher management fees due to active management and higher administrative costs. ETFs, being passively managed and traded on exchanges, generally have lower expense ratios.

What are two advantages of an ETF over a mutual fund?

ETFs offer intraday trading flexibility and typically have lower expense ratios compared to mutual funds. Additionally, they are often more tax-efficient due to their unique structure.

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