A question that we get quite regularly at SimpleMoney is, "Where can I invest in mutual funds directly?" The answer, unfortunately, is not SimpleMoney. We are a portfolio tracker that gives you intelligent analysis about your investments so that you can make sound and wise financial decisions.
Today, however, there is a plethora of websites that allow investors to buy mutual funds directly in the Indian markets. Some of them are well-known and were pioneers in the mutual funds industry even when it was completely offline, and others are relatively new apps and websites that have commendable user interfaces and well presented data.
Which platform to pick is a very personal decision depending on a person's individual preferences, requirements and aversions. Some people want a process to be completely automated. Others don't want to have to pay for what they think should be a free service.
Below is a list that includes some of the most well-known mutual fund investing platforms in India today. This list is not exhaustive as there are new ones that emerge everyday.
This list also does not include individual fund houses or AMCs (Asset Management Companies), such as DSP Blackrock or HDFC Mutual Funds. Many of them will allow you to buy funds directly on their website. Depending on the number of funds you have, this means a few extra usernames and passwords.
MFUtilities is a free platform that enables users to execute mutual fund investments. It describes itself as a “Transaction Aggregating Portal.” MFUtilities was formed by the AMCs (Asset Management Companies) or fund houses to enable easy, secure transactions for mutual funds. It comes under the aegis of the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI). It is equally owned by the participating AMCs.
The obvious benefit of MFUtilities is that it’s free and it is also the method of investment used by many investors, including financial advisors. However, setting up an account on MFUtilities requires some time and effort and is not entirely automated. As the website describes:
“Investors will have to get themselves a Common Account Number (CAN) by submitting the CAN Registration Form (CRF) at any of the nearest Point of Service (POS) of MF Utilities India Pvt Ltd (MFUI) or a Distributor / RIA signed-up with MFUI or a participating AMC Branch. (If you are KYC compliant, you can do e-CAN)”
In order to gain online access with a login account to execute transactions, investors will have to:
“send your duly signed letter to our office address at Thane or send in your email to us at [email protected].”
Once this initial setup work is done, MFU will map all your existing folios matching the CAN combination. When MFU provides access to investors, they will be able to track their existing investments using the CAN.
This initial setup work can be time-consuming. However, if you are already KYC compliant, as mentioned above, you can sign up for an e-CAN, send an email requesting online access, and wait a few days. After this, you will have to live with a less than beautiful user interface, but you will have a reliable and secure portal through which to execute your transactions.
CAMS, which stands for Computer Age Management Services is a Mutual Fund Registrar and Transfer Agency to Indian Asset Management Companies. In the mutual funds world, a Registrar or Transfer Agency is an institution that registers and maintains a record of investors’ transactions. CAMS now offers a service called myCAMS that enables investors to buy mutual funds online.
Through myCAMS, users can do eKYC, open new folios, view their existing portfolio, check Mutual fund NAVs, set up Systematic Investment Plans (SIP) , opt for Common One Time Mandates (OTM) and do more across Mutual Funds serviced by CAMS through a single, secure gateway.
One caveat is that investors can only transact in funds that are serviced by CAMS as registrar.
The User Guide on the website lists all the value additions that myCAMS provides.
Karvy, like CAMS is another Mutual Fund Registrar and Transfer Agency, servicing its own set of AMCs. Karvy’s own investment portal is called KTrack, and as its user guide reveals, it provides value additions to users such as Capital Gains by Email ID, PDF and Excel Account statement, Gains by folio, CAN based account statement.
CAMS, Karvy and MFUtilities are organisations and institutions that have been created by and/or in partnership with AMCs to provide administrative services to investors. There are, however, a host of other direct investment platforms in India today, most of them aiming to provide a better user experience to investors. Many of them also combine their direct investment services with advisory services. These advisory services are often in the form of “robo-advisors” - AI based algorithms that determine a user’s ideal portfolio by performing calculations based on factors such as age, monthly income and financial goals.
Why go for these platforms over AMCs or the three reputed organisations described above? Well, there are a few reasons, but the ease of use and user friendly interface definitely rank high. Here are some direct investment platforms, but please note that the number of platforms is always increasing and this list is not exhaustive. Please also note that SimpleMoney does not endorse nor vouch for any of these platforms. We are presenting this information here so that it might be useful to you in your own research.
You can only see the costs of Bharosa Advisor after you create an account and sign in. When I emailed their customer support, I got the following response:
"Please register and go through the explore tab. Bharosa is 3X cheaper than other advisors but you can transact for free in direct mutual funds on MFU www.mfuindia.com if you do not need advice."
After creating an account, I clicked on the "Explore" tab under the section Is Bharosa right for you? and found the following information:
"Bharosa charges 0.25% annually only on your direct funds (to avoid double charging), with a minimum fee of Rs 200 per month and a maximum fee of Rs 10,000 per month. This is a small fraction of the gain that you can get by using Bharosa and is 3 times cheaper than the industry average. Many people think that they are paying no fee but in fact, they end up paying around 1% per annum in hidden commissions by using regular funds instead of direct funds."
Clearfunds’ homepage is a strong advocate for direct mutual funds. Posing thought-provoking questions such as “Why does your bank relationship manager shop in Dubai while you shop at Westside?” (Because Westside has really comfortable palazzos?) and “Why does your broker driver a Mercedes while you drive a Maruti?” (Hint: the real answer has to do with hidden commissions on regular mutual funds), Clearfunds makes a case for direct mutual fund investments and provides advisory services and allows you to execute transactions through their portal.
Price (from the website):
Flat fee of ₹199 everytime you buy a mutual fund scheme or start an SIP - irrespective of the amount you are investing. The fee is charged only once the first SIP investment has been executed.
In other words, each time you click on Netbanking or Auto-Pay, it counts as a transaction, which will cost you ₹199.
There are no charges for SIP modifications, or switching funds or selling investments.
Coin by Zerodha is probably one of the most well known of the direct investment platforms because Zerodha provides a wide range of services and is one a well-established player in the field.
Zerodha Coin is a platform that lets you buy mutual funds directly from asset management companies. Your mutual funds, stocks, currencies, bonds are all held in your Demat in one place. Here's an article on whether storing mutual funds in demat accounts is a good option for you.
A portfolio of up to ₹25,000 is free. After that, it's a flat fee of ₹50/month, and Zerodha will also help you shift your funds from regular to direct plans
Expowealth is another direct investment platform whose home page guides users towards direct instead of regular funds, providing an infographic to show how much money an investor can save on commissions to distributors.
The platform's service provides portfolio management and advice, and allows users to execute transactions for funds.
A free plan that only involves switching to direct plans for existing funds, redemptions, and portfolio analysis and reporting. The paid plans are either ₹149 per transaction or ₹149 per month (which has extra features such as a soon to be released Capital gains tax report).
Free for investments up to ₹50,000
Basic (DIY): ₹79/month
Premium (including advisory): ₹109/month
Jama’s website proclaims a user base of 10,000+ investors, and like Clearfunds, its website also has a similar comparison between regular and luxury goods (in this case, it’s a Maruti vs. a BMW - poor Maruti, not getting a lot of love), encouraging users to invest in direct funds and save on the commissions paid to distributors when you invest in regular funds.
Jama promises scientific fund selection for your portfolio and helps you switch your regular plans to direct plans.
Free account for a portfolio of up to ₹50,000
Silver plan: ₹499/year
Kuvera states on its website that it is the “world’s first free investing platform.” Kuvera helps investors build a personalised plan based on their financial goals and provides a set of recommended funds that users can invest in, or conversely, they can choose their own funds. Kuvera then monitors your portfolio and provides users with periodic feedback about how things are going.
Kuvera also helps users switch their funds from regular to direct plans. It provides a selection of over 30 fund houses and is a SEBI registered Investment Advisor (RIA).
Free. So how do they make money? This is what they say on their website:
“We generate revenues through B2B services and market data analytics. We will add value added investment products like PMS and AIF strategies in time and for this, we will charge users who wish to avail of these products or services. Financial goal planning and Mutual Fund investing, though, will always remain free for you to use.”
Moneyfront is another one of the investment platforms that is trying to dissuade users from signing up for regular mutual funds. It provides portfolio selection advice, reports and insights and is registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) as an Investment Advisor
Limited time offer before Jan 31 2018, which indicates that their prices are going to increase:
Family Accounts: ₹85/month, ₹170/month
Referral program: for every 3 friends, get 6 months free
Orowealth also promotes its direct platform investment feature, along with its service of helping users switch from regular to direct plans, and the advisory service it provides. It has an interactive infographic that helps you see how much money on commissions can be saved for specific funds by going with a direct fund over a regular one.
Oro has three levels of subscription: a pay as you go account where you pay a one time for different services such as redemptions, transactions and investment advice; ORO Gold (₹;2000/year) and ORO platinum (₹10,000/year)
Piggy is an app (available both for on Android and iOS) that allows users to execute direct transactions, and provides reporting and analysis on your portfolio.
Information on pricing is not clearly available on the website, perhaps because it’s an app. The only allusion that we could find to pricing was in the FAQs section:
There are no Piggy charges on OneTime transactions for first 4 weeks. Sell/Redeem is completely free.
Post 4 weeks, charges applicable only on Buy transactions. Sell/Redeem is completely free. Lump-sum or OneTime transactions charges (per transaction)
(1.) Non liquid funds : Rs.30 Piggy Fee.
(2.) Liquid funds : Rs.3 Piggy Fee.
Piggy fee for SIP is Rs.100 per fund per year.
Savvy writes on its website that it is India’s “first unbiased online investment advisor.” It promises tailor-made portfolios taking into consideration the psychology of the investor and promises no hidden fees or kickbacks.
Savvy advisory fees are calculated based on the balance amount in your portfolio. This is the basis for calculation, as shown on their website:
Unovest, a venture by personal finance blogger, Vipin Khandelwal, provides a range of services catering to investors who want to transact in direct mutual funds.
There are three subscription options:
Upraise provides a goal planner to users to provide them with funds that align with their financial goals. It provides a selection of "baskets" such as "Savings basket" (which consists of highly liquid short terms funds that provide a higher return than a savings account) and a "Tax Saver basket."
Upraise is a SEBI Registered Investment advisor and they charge their fees as a percentage of your portfolio:
WealthTrust states on its website that it is India’s “most trusted direct mutual funds investment platform,” providing tracking and investment services. WealthTrust has an interactive infographic on its website that shows how the funds picked by its advisory team have consistently outperformed the other funds in the same category.
Basic: Free. You can Switch to Direct Funds, Track your Portfolio and check Top Funds.
Premium: 99/month. Apart from the features available in Basic Plan, you can open Investment Account, buy Direct plans of 25 different AMCs and Redeem from the funds you bought through WealthTrust.
Smart Advisory: 699/year + 0.25% of your portfolio. You will have a dedicated SEBI-registered investment advisor to help you build a portfolio with optimal returns. For more details, chat with our support team from our app.
Wixifi promises intelligent investing to users by providing an automated portfolio tailored for you.
Wixifi charges y 0.125% per quarter on your average quarterly balance which works out to approximately 0.5% per year. It also states:
You pay us using your credit card only if you are satisfied after the end of the quarter.
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