Expense Ratio in Mutual Funds

Expense ratio is the annual maintenance charge levied by mutual funds to finance its expenses. Explore all about expense ratio in mutual funds in this article.
Expense Ratio in Mutual Funds
3 mins read

As an investor, it is important to understand the expenses associated with mutual fund investments. One of the main expenses is the expense ratio. The expense ratio is a fee charged by mutual funds to cover their operating costs, including management fees, administrative fees, and other expenses. It is expressed as a percentage of the total assets under management (AUM) of the mutual fund. Mutual funds are required by law to disclose their expense ratio to investors. In this article, we will explore the expense ratio meaning, how does it work, its components, significance of expense ratio in mutual funds and many more in detail.

What is expense ratio?

The expense ratio means the fees charged by mutual fund companies to manage the mutual fund. It is expressed as a percentage of the total assets under management. The value of an expense ratio is determined by the size of the mutual fund under consideration. A fund with a limited pool of financial resources must devote a percentage of its resources to effective management. This raises the relative worth of the costs in relation to the overall quantity of cash available.

In the case of large-cap mutual funds, the amount set aside to cover expenditures is a lower proportion of the overall asset value. As a result, expenditure ratios have an inverse connection with mutual fund size.
This is represented by the expense ratio formula, which is calculated by dividing total expenses by the total assets of the funds. The higher the asset base, the smaller the ratio, and vice versa, assuming total expenses stay constant.

How does expense ratio work?

The expense ratio serves as the fee associated with owning a mutual fund or ETF, akin to a management fee paid to the fund company for the privilege of holding the fund. It is expressed as a percentage of your investment in the fund, with, for instance, a 0.30 percent expense ratio meaning an annual payment of Rs. 30 for every Rs. 10,000 invested. This fee is incurred annually if you retain ownership of the fund throughout the year. It is important to note that attempting to sell the fund just before the one-year mark won't circumvent the cost. In the case of an ETF, the management company discreetly deducts the expense from the fund's net asset value daily, making it nearly imperceptible to investors.

What are the components of Expense Ratio?

The expense ratio of a mutual fund scheme is calculated by dividing the total expenses incurred by the AMC by the value of assets under its management (AUM). The components of the expense ratio include fund manager's fee, marketing and distribution expenses, legal/audit costs, and other operating costs. There are three key components:

  1. Management fees: These compensate fund managers for their expertise in developing investment strategies. Typically, this fee ranges from 0.50% to 1% annually.
  2. Administrative costs: These cover fund operational expenses like record-keeping and customer service. They are expressed as a percentage of fund assets.
  3. Distribution fees: Mutual funds often charge these fees for advertising and promoting the fund to investors. They are deducted as a percentage of the fund's assets.

Understanding the significance of Mutual Fund Expense Ratio

The expense ratio plays a crucial role in shaping your mutual fund journey. As demonstrated by the examples, a higher expense ratio correlates with diminished returns. However, it's imperative to discern that a lower expense ratio doesn't necessarily translate to a superior mutual fund. A fund with a reduced expense ratio may prove just as proficient, if not more, in delivering optimal returns. Regular funds, with their distribution through intermediaries, inherently feature higher expense ratios compared to direct funds. This difference arises because direct funds are invested in directly through the AMC, bypassing intermediary commissions that contribute to the expense ratio.

Over time, these commissions can significantly erode your returns. When faced with the choice between two comparable mutual funds, the expense ratio emerges as a crucial factor in decision-making. For instance, in comparing two large-cap equity funds—A and B—with similar holdings and objectives but expense ratios of 1.5% and 2%, respectively, selecting fund A becomes the logical preference. The impact of the expense ratio is particularly pronounced in debt funds due to their relatively lower returns. A 7% return with a 2% expense ratio, for instance, dwindles to 5%, falling short of effectively outpacing inflation.

How does the Expense Ratio affect returns

The expense ratio is an important factor that can impact your mutual fund returns. A higher expense ratio means that a larger portion of your returns will be deducted as fees, thereby reducing your overall returns. On the other hand, a lower expense ratio can help you maximize your returns.

What is a good expense ratio?

A good expense ratio for a mutual fund depends on the investment goals, risk tolerance, and other individual factors of the investor. Generally, a low expense ratio is good for a mutual fund because it means that more of the investor's money is being invested rather than being used to cover operating costs.

What is Expense Ratio Formula?

Expense Ratio= Total expenses/Average AUM


  • Total expenses: Encompassing the expenses borne by the AMC, including the fund manager's remuneration, marketing, distribution outlays, as well as legal and audit expenditures.
  • Average AUM (AUM): Reflecting the overall value of funds pooled from all investors in a particular fund.

How to calculate expense ratio in mutual fund

Let us consider a fictional equity mutual fund with Assets Under Management (AUM) totaling Rs. 800 Crores. The cumulative expenses incurred for various components, such as the fund manager's fees, marketing, and distribution, add up to Rs. 16 Crores.

Applying the expense ratio formula:

Expense Ratio= Total expenses/Average AUM

Expense Ratio= Rs. 16 Crores/ Rs. 800 Crores = 2%

This signifies that each investor will contribute 2% annually as the expense ratio to the Asset Management Company (AMC). This deduction occurs daily throughout your investment tenure in the scheme.

What are low-expense ratio mutual funds?

Low-expense ratio mutual funds are mutual funds that charge a lower fee to cover their operating costs. Low-expense ratio mutual funds are considered attractive to investors because they offer lower fees, which can improve the overall returns on investment.

What is the interest expense ratio in mutual funds?

The interest expense ratio in a mutual fund is the amount of interest paid by a mutual fund to borrow money to invest in securities. The interest expense ratio is included in the expense ratio calculation and is expressed as a percentage of the total assets under management.

What is an expense ratio example?

For example, if a mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1%, it means that the mutual fund company charges a fee of 1% of the total assets under management to cover its operating costs. If the mutual fund has total assets under management of Rs. 10,00,000, the mutual fund company will charge Rs. 10,000 as an expense ratio.

Impact of expense ratio on mutual fund returns

A prevalent fallacy is that a greater cost ratio signals better management of a mutual fund and a higher likelihood of profit generation. Mutual funds with low expense ratios yet managed by competent managers who make accurate market predictions can also produce significant returns. Mutual funds with a high-cost ratio can be managed aggressively for larger returns or invest in firms with a higher possibility of success. A higher level of revenue will compensate for the increased level of costs.

While the cost ratio is significant, it is not the only factor to consider when choosing a mutual fund plan. The greater expenditure ratio might often mask good profits. If market tracking is not your thing and you find it tough to grasp, invest via Bajaj Finance platform. You can invest in carefully curated mutual funds in a paperless and hassle-free manner.

What are the expense ratio limits?

AUM in Crore TER limit for equity schemes TER limit for all the schemes other than equity 
Rs. 0 – 500 crore 2.25% 2.00%
Rs. 501 crore -750 crore 2.00% 1.75%
Rs. 751 crore -2,000 crore 1.75% 1.5%
Rs. 2,001 crore - 5000 crore 1.6% 1.35%
Rs. 5,001 crore - 10,000 crore 1.5% 1.25%
Rs. 10,001 crore - 50,000 crore 0.05% total expense ratio reduces with every increase of Rs. 5000 crore of daily net assets 0.05% total expense ratio reduces with every increase of Rs. 5000 crore of daily net assets
Remaining assets 1.5% 0.80%

Things to remember about Expense Ratio

Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

  1. Understanding cost to AMC: The expense ratio represents the fee paid to the Asset Management Company (AMC) for fund management.
  2. Consideration of investment objectives: While a lower expense ratio is generally preferable, it is essential to align your investment goals with the mutual fund's characteristics, rather than solely opting for those with lower expense ratios.
  3. Difference between regular and direct plans: Regular plans generally have higher expense ratios compared to direct plans, and actively managed funds generally incur higher expenses than passively managed ones.
  4. Significant impact on debt funds: Debt funds are more affected by the expense ratio, given their relatively lower returns. Deducting expenses can leave them less equipped to outperform inflation.
  5. Comparative tool: Utilise the expense ratio as a tool for comparing different mutual funds. Additionally, be aware that the deduction is made daily from your investment amount and does not require a separate payment to the AMC. A fund with a higher Assets Under Management (AUM) is likely to have a lower expense ratio due to the distribution of management costs among a larger investor base.

Identify funds with low expense ratios

When it comes to low expense ratio mutual funds, there are several ways to identify them:

  1. Research fund options
    Start by researching mutual funds with lower expense ratios. Look for funds that prioritise cost efficiency. You can find this information from the fund’s official documentation or through the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) data.
  2. Compare expense ratios
    Compare the expense ratios of different funds within the same category. An apples-to-apples comparison will help you identify the lowest-cost options. Remember that even a small difference in expense ratio can significantly impact your returns over time.
  3. Diversify your portfolio
    Avoid putting all your money into a single fund. Diversify your investments across multiple funds with low expense ratios. This approach helps spread risk and ensures better overall cost management.
  4. Check fund performance
    While cost is important, do not ignore a fund’s performance. Look at historical returns, consistency, and risk-adjusted performance. A fund with a good track record and a low expense ratio is an ideal combination.


The expense ratio is more than just a fee; it is a critical factor that can significantly impact returns. Investors must carefully weigh the cost against the benefits offered by a mutual fund, considering their specific financial goals and risk tolerance.

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Frequently asked questions

What is meant by expense ratio?

The expense ratio represents the annual fees charged by a mutual fund for managing your investment. It includes administrative costs, management fees, and other operational expenses.

What is a good expense ratio for a mutual fund?

A good expense ratio varies by fund type. Generally, lower is better. For equity funds, aim for below 1%. For debt funds, even lower (around 0.5% or less) is preferable.

Is lower expense ratio better?

Yes, a lower expense ratio means you pay less for fund management. Over time, this can significantly impact your returns.

Is expense ratio charged every year?

Yes, the expense ratio is an annual charge deducted from your investment. It covers ongoing fund management costs.

What is a .04 expense ratio?

An expense ratio of 0.04 (or 4 basis points) is exceptionally low. It indicates cost-efficient fund management.

What if expense ratio is too high?

A high expense ratio can eat into your returns. Consider switching to lower-cost funds to optimise your investment.

Is expense ratio charged on every SIP?

Yes, the expense ratio applies to each SIP instalment. It is a proportionate deduction.

Should I worry about expense ratio?

Yes, but do not obsess with it. Choose funds with reasonable expense ratios, but also focus on performance and risk.

Is 0.95 expense ratio good?

A 0.95 expense ratio is relatively high. Aim for lower-cost alternatives unless the fund’s performance justifies it.

Is expense ratio charged every month?

Expense ratios are typically calculated on an annual basis, not monthly.

Which mutual fund has the lowest expense ratio?

It varies depending on the fund's management and investment strategy, but index funds and ETFs often have lower expense ratios.

Who pays the expense ratio?

The expense ratio is paid by the investors in the mutual fund and is deducted from the fund's assets.

What is the difference between expense ratio and fee?

The expense ratio encompasses all costs associated with managing a fund, while fees are specific charges for certain services, like transaction fees.

Is the expense ratio fixed?

The expense ratio can vary over time based on changes in the fund's management fees, operating expenses, and other factors.

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