1st Jan 2023 will mark the 10th anniversary of the introduction of direct plan mutual funds. This article discusses whether their introduction has caused more harm than good for investors. About 46% of total assets are in direct plans (a good chunk of it is as institutional and HNI assets).
The honest answer to this question is we don’t know. There is no way to measure or ascertain this unless we take anecdotal evidence seriously (which we will not). Direct plan mutual funds have led to mixed results like every rule change.
They have resulted in higher returns for true DIY investors. Before Jan 2013, a DIY investor buying units direct from fund houses was paying the same expense ratio as someone investing “through” a distributor. The AMC happily pocketed the additional fees.
They have enabled SEBI to create investment advisor regulations and stopped registered advisors from double-billing investors – once for advice and once for commissions. Registered advisors can only recommend direct plan mutual funds to their clients.
Of course, many advisors have found a way to ensure that the income is not reduced by charging a fee as a percentage of assets, having a distribution arm, getting commission from products not regulated by SEBI, etc.
Direct plans and Investment advisor regulations have, in principle, paved the way for conflict-free advice, as more than 1000 of our readers can attest by working with our curated list of fee-only advisors.
Naturally, investors choosing funds on their own would have led to mistakes, but this doesn’t mean all regular plan recommendations were suitable or well-intended. There is no way to meaningfully measure either.
In our opinion, the biggest harm has not been direct plans but direct plan portals with their “free” algo-based recommendations. Again this can’t be measured and remains speculation.
So have direct plans caused more harm than good? Since there is no data, it depends on you who ask!
- The distributors would say, well, we know what they would say.
- Most registered advisors are probably unhappy because it reduces their earning potential
- AMC guys don’t care how the AUM comes as long as it comes. They would like to fan all fires at the same time.
- No investor would complain about getting more returns. I am one of them and would certainly vote for “good”.
Some may say that direct plan exposure has not increased as much as it should. Perhaps, literacy and change take time. More importantly, affordable and conflict-of-interest-free advice in India is next to non-existent.
The only practical way (in our opinion) to address this is to lower the barrier to becoming registered advisors and independently elevate the status/respect of mutual fund distributors—more about this in another article.
Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.
🔥Enjoy massive year-end discounts on our courses and robo-advisory tool! 🔥
Use our Robo-advisory Excel Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! ⇐ More than 1000 investors and advisors use this!
- Follow us on Google News.
- Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
- Join our YouTube Community and explore more than 1000 videos!
- Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter with this form.
- Hit ‘reply’ to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.
Explore the site! Search among our 2000+ articles for information and insight!
About The Author
Dr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation for promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! ⇐ More than 3000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter what the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free! One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course! Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! ⇐ More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts you and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu gets a superpower!” is now available!
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. – Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or you buy the new Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & its content policy Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified from credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish any paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions presented will only be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters at freefincal dot com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing
Published by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want This book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.
Your Ultimate Guide to Travel
This is an in-depth dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 300 (instant download)