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Mutual Funds vs. Index Funds – Difference between Mutual & Index Funds

Want to know the major differences between mutual funds & index funds? Read to know about mutual funds and index funds, how they work, their benefits and differences.

Investing in Mutual Funds is more convenient than buying equities directly. When it comes to Mutual Funds, you will be presented with a plethora of options. Choosing a suitable scheme from this list necessitates a deeper understanding of Index Funds vs. Mutual Funds.

What are Index Funds?

A Mutual Fund or Exchange-traded Fund (ETF) that tracks or matches the components of a financial market index is known as an Index Fund. These are passively managed funds; the fund manager invests in the same assets and the same proportions as the underlying index and does not modify the portfolio composition.

How does an Index Fund work?

Index funds are Mutual Funds that track a certain benchmark index, such as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq 100. When you invest in an Index Fund, your money is invested in all firms that make up the index.

Index Funds are naturally diversified and hence have a lower risk than individual stock ownership because their purpose is to duplicate the identical holdings of whichever index they track. An index fund is a diversified equities fund with a twist: no fund manager is involved in stock selection. An index fund's portfolio, both in terms of stock selection and percentage ownership, is always identical to that of an index.

What are Mutual Funds?

A mutual fund is a form of investment vehicle created when an asset management company (AMC) or fund house pools assets from a number of individual and institutional investors that share similar financial objectives. The pooled investment is overseen by a fund manager, who is a finance expert. The fund manager executes stock and bond trades in accordance with the investment mandate.

The fund manager's principal goal is to offer investors the best potential returns by investing in assets that are compatible with the fund's objectives. Mutual Fund performance is determined by the underlying assets.

Small and individual investors can gain access to professionally managed portfolios of stocks, bonds, and other securities through mutual funds. As a result, each stakeholder receives a proportional share of the fund's revenues and losses. Mutual funds invest in a wide range of assets, and their performance is often assessed by the change in the fund's overall market capitalization, which is determined by adding the results of the underlying investments.

A Mutual Fund is a type of investment vehicle that is created when an asset management company (AMC) or fund house aggregates assets from a number of individual and institutional investors with similar financial goals. A fund manager, who is a finance specialist, oversees the pooled investment. The fund manager makes stock and bond transactions that are in compliance with the investing mandate.

The primary goal of the fund manager is to provide the best possible returns to investors by investing in assets that are compatible with the fund's objectives. The underlying assets determine Mutual Fund performance.

Mutual Funds provide access to professionally managed portfolios of shares, bonds, and other securities to small and individual investors. As a result, each stakeholder shares in the fund's gains and losses proportionally. Mutual funds invest in a wide range of assets, and their performance is typically measured by the change in the fund's total market capitalization, which is calculated by combining the performance of the underlying investments.

Difference between Index Funds and Mutual Funds and which one to choose

Investing and management methods

Fund allocation and management are the key differences between Index Funds and Mutual Funds. Actively managed Mutual Funds require fund managers to choose the asset mix and investment proportion.

Index Funds, on the other hand, are managed in a passive manner. These funds invest in the same units in the same proportions as prominent benchmarks like the Nifty 50. Hence, these funds use their underlying benchmark as a framework for investment and tend to mimic its characteristics.

Cost-to-income ratio

From the standpoint of an investor, the most significant difference between Index Funds and Mutual Funds is their operational costs. The expense ratio is the annual cost of administering these funds' operations. Because Index Funds are passively managed, a fund manager's involvement is minimal. 


Actively managed Mutual Funds, particularly equity-oriented funds, seek to outperform market benchmarks. During market downturns in many industries, these funds outperform the market and provide higher returns.

Index funds have a track record of outperforming actively managed funds in more than 80% of cases. This is due to the former's attempt to replicate high-performing benchmarks such as the Nifty 50.


Actively Managed vs. Passively Managed Funds

Actively managed funds have a fund manager who is more involved in decision-making and actively monitors which stocks and bonds enter and exit a mutual fund's portfolio at a particular time. The fund manager cannot control the movement of the underlying assets in passively managed funds

In contrast, a passively managed fund merely tracks a market index. It lacks a management team to make investment decisions. They have far lower expense ratios than active funds. 

Though it's easy to mix up Index Funds with Mutual Funds, they're not mutually exclusive. As a result, you may end up with stock index mutual funds, which are frequently among the lowest-cost funds on the market, even lower than the widely used index ETFs. Investors will do better if they handle their own funds passively, regardless of how they are managed.


Glide Invest has your back when it comes to making your investments stress-free. It's an online investing platform for Indians who want to invest in mutual fund direct plans to achieve their financial goals. We make investing simple so that customers can earn high returns with minimal risk. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  1. Which one should I consider actively managed or index funds?

    Every investor should be interested in the discussion of Actively Managed Funds vs. Index Funds. The best funds to buy, on the other hand, will be chosen by each investor's circumstances and financial goals. The opportunity to beat the market is one advantage actively managed funds have over index funds, and investors like the idea of outperformance.
  2. What are the indicators of risk in a Mutual Fund scheme?

    Before choosing the best Mutual Fund Scheme to invest your hard-earned money in, you must conduct thorough research. While every scheme's fact sheet includes a number of risk indicators such as Standard Deviation, Beta, and Sharpe Ratio, the product label is the primary thing to look for.

To read more on similar topics, click here:

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