What is exit load in mutual funds?

Understanding exit load: A guide to fees charged by mutual fund companies for early redemption.

3 mins
02 August 2023

Exit load, also known as redemption fee or back-end load, refers to a charge imposed on investors when they redeem or sell their mutual fund units within a specified period after purchasing them. It acts as a deterrent against short-term or frequent trading and encourages investors to adopt a long-term investment horizon. Exit load is designed to protect the interests of long-term investors by discouraging the disruptive effects of excessive trading on the fund's overall performance and transaction costs.

Types of Exit Loads

Contingent Deferred Sales Charge (CDSC): Under the CDSC structure, the exit load decreases over time. Initially, the charges are higher, but they gradually decrease as the investor holds the units for a longer duration. If the investor holds the units beyond the CDSC period, no exit load is applied upon redemption.

Fixed Exit Load: In this type of exit load, the charges remain constant throughout the specified holding period. For instance, if a mutual fund has a fixed exit load of 2%, it will apply whether the investor redeems the units within one month or within one year of purchase.

Stepped Exit Load: Stepped exit load involves a graduated structure where the exit load percentage changes in steps over the holding period. The longer the investor holds the units, the lower the exit load percentage becomes. This structure intends to incentivize long-term investment by reducing the penalty for early redemption over time.

When is Exit Load Applicable?

Exit load is applicable only if an investor redeems or sells their mutual fund units during the specified exit load period. Once the exit load period ends, investors can redeem their units without incurring any exit load charges.

Implications for Investors

The presence of an exit load can significantly impact an investor's overall returns, particularly for those engaged in short-term or frequent trading. Before investing in a mutual fund, investors must carefully assess their investment horizon, risk tolerance, and financial goals. Those with a long-term investment approach may find exit loads less concerning, as they are less likely to redeem their units before the exit load period expires. In contrast, investors with short-term goals or those who anticipate needing liquidity in the near future should consider the impact of exit loads on their potential gains.

Additionally, the presence of an exit load should not be the sole factor guiding an investment decision. Other critical considerations such as the fund's investment strategy, historical performance, expense ratio, and management team should also be thoroughly evaluated.

Considerations for Investors

Read the Offer Documents: Before investing in any mutual fund, it is crucial to read and understand the fund's offer documents, including the SID and KIM. Pay particular attention to the exit load provisions and the holding period during which the charge is applicable.

Align Investment Horizon: Investors should align their investment horizon with the fund's exit load policy. If they are unsure about holding the units for the specified period, they may consider alternative funds with shorter exit load periods or funds with no exit loads.

Diversification: Diversifying investments across different asset classes and funds can help mitigate the impact of exit loads on overall returns. A diversified portfolio may include funds with various exit load structures, thus reducing the dependency on any single investment's holding period.

Seek Professional Advice: For investors uncertain about how exit loads may affect their investment strategy, seeking advice from a qualified financial advisor can provide valuable insights and personalized guidance.


Exit load is a significant aspect of mutual fund investing that should not be overlooked by investors. It serves to discourage short-term trading and promote a long-term investment approach. Understanding the different types of exit loads and their implications can help investors make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance. By carefully evaluating the exit load provisions and considering the broader aspects of the mutual fund, investors can navigate the complexities of mutual fund investments and make choices that best suit their unique circumstances.

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