Understanding Total Expense Ratio (TER) in Mutual Funds


Mir Amir Sohel

9/20/20233 min read

In the world of mutual funds, the term "Total Expense Ratio" (TER) is of paramount importance. It's not just a number; it's a crucial factor that investors must consider when evaluating the cost-efficiency of a mutual fund. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the depths of TER, exploring its definition, calculation, and components, shedding light on how it impacts your investment decisions.

What is Total Expense Ratio (TER)?

TER is expressed as an annualized percentage of a mutual fund's assets. It represents the total cost incurred by investors for the management of a mutual fund scheme. Under the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), asset management companies (AMCs) are authorized to levy certain operating expenses as TER. This percentage is calculated based on the fund's daily net assets, making it a dynamic metric that reflects the fund's operational costs accurately.

The Components of TER

To gain a comprehensive understanding of TER, we must dissect its various components, each contributing to the overall expense ratio. These components include:

1. Administrative Expenses

Administrative expenses encompass the costs associated with the day-to-day management and administration of the mutual fund. This category includes expenses related to paperwork, record-keeping, and compliance.

2. Transaction Costs

Transaction costs arise from buying and selling securities within the fund's portfolio. These costs can significantly impact the TER and vary depending on the frequency of trading and the asset class involved.

3. Investment Management Fees

Investment management fees are charges for the professional expertise provided by the fund manager. These fees are essential for the fund's performance and are a vital part of TER.

4. Registrar Fees

Registrar fees cover the expenses incurred for maintaining and updating the fund's shareholder records. These costs ensure that investors' holdings are accurately recorded.

5. Custodian Fees

Custodian fees are related to the safekeeping of a mutual fund's assets. Custodians play a crucial role in ensuring the security and integrity of the fund's investments.

6. Audit Fees

Audit fees are associated with the regular auditing of the fund's financial statements. These ensure transparency and compliance with regulatory standards.

7. Brokerage and Transaction Cost

In addition to the core components, mutual funds can incur brokerage and transaction costs when executing trades. These costs vary, depending on the type of transaction, with cash market transactions typically incurring higher expenses than derivatives transactions.

8. Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Investments

GST on investments is a percentage of the daily net assets of the schemes. It's an additional expense designed to cover tax liabilities, with provisions for an exit load.

9. Advisory Fees

Advisory fees are charges imposed by mutual funds for providing investment advice and financial planning services to investors.

10. Payments to Distributors

Mutual fund AMCs can deduct transaction charges from investors' subscriptions. This amount is then paid to the distributor as a form of commission.

11. TER Limits

TER limits are prescribed by SEBI and vary based on the category of mutual funds. Equity funds, for example, can charge up to 2.25 percent, while non-equity schemes have a base expense ratio limit of 2 percent. ETFs and fund-of-funds (FoF) also have their own TER limits.

Why TER Matters

TER is a critical factor in determining the overall cost of investing in a mutual fund. It directly impacts a scheme's Net Asset Value (NAV), with lower expense ratios leading to higher NAVs. This, in turn, affects the returns realized by investors. However, while a lower TER is appealing, it should not be the sole criterion for choosing a mutual fund.

Investors must also consider other factors like the fund's performance, risk profile, and suitability for their financial goals. A holistic approach to mutual fund selection, combined with an understanding of TER, can empower investors to make informed decisions that align with their investment objectives.

In conclusion, Total Expense Ratio (TER) is a multifaceted metric that encapsulates the various costs associated with managing a mutual fund. By comprehending its components and significance, investors can navigate the world of mutual funds more effectively, ensuring that their investment choices align with their financial aspirations.

In your journey as an investor, understanding TER is akin to mastering the map of a complex terrain. With this knowledge, you can navigate the mutual fund landscape more confidently and make decisions that lead to financial growth and prosperity.

Understanding Total Expense Ratio (TER) in Mutual Funds