Passive Mutual Funds

5paisa Research Team Date: 26 Apr, 2023 04:30 PM IST


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In the ever-evolving world of investments, passive mutual funds have emerged as a popular choice for investors seeking steady growth without the constant need for active management. Passive mutual funds in India have gained popularity among investors seeking low-cost, low-maintenance investment options. As the investment landscape shifts towards more passive investing strategies, it is essential to understand the ins and outs of these funds. This article delves into the world of passive funds and how they can serve as a valuable addition to your investment portfolio.

What Are Passive Funds?

For those wondering what is passive mutual funds, the answer lies in the unique investment approach. A passive fund is an investment vehicle that aims to mimic the performance of a particular market index, such as the Nifty or Sensex. Unlike their active counterparts, passively managed funds do not strive to outperform the market; instead, their primary goal is to achieve returns that closely mirror the benchmark index. As a result, the fund manager's role is relatively hands-off, focusing on maintaining a portfolio composition that reflects the index's underlying assets.

The primary appeal of passive funds lies in their lower costs, as they typically charge lower management fees compared to active funds. This is because they do not require extensive research, stock selection, and frequent trading, which can drive up expenses. Consequently, passive funds offer investors a cost-effective way to diversify their portfolios and gain exposure to a broad range of market segments. With the rise of passive mutual funds in India, investors can now diversify their portfolios and potentially achieve market-matching returns

Types of Passive Funds

As the financial landscape evolves, passive mutual funds in India continue to attract both novice and experienced investors alike. There are several types of passively managed funds, each with distinct characteristics and objectives. 


Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are a popular type of passive fund that combines the benefits of both stocks and mutual funds. They are traded on stock exchanges and allow investors to gain exposure to various assets, including equities, bonds, and commodities, by tracking an underlying index. Like stocks, ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day, offering flexibility and liquidity. To invest in an ETF, an investor requires a Demat account for complete transactions.

2. The Index Fund 

Index funds are another form of a passive fund designed to replicate the performance of a specific market index. These funds passively construct their portfolios by investing in the same securities and in similar proportions as the target index. Instead of attempting to outperform the market, index funds seek to match the performance of their chosen benchmark, providing a reliable way for investors to gain exposure to a broad market or sector.

3. Smart Beta 

Smart Beta funds offer a hybrid approach, blending elements of both active and passive fund management. These funds follow a rules-based investment strategy that considers various factors, such as value, quality, or momentum, to build a portfolio that deviates from a traditional market-capitalization-weighted index. Smart Beta funds aim to deliver better risk-adjusted returns than their benchmark index, while still maintaining the cost-efficiency associated with passive investing.

4. Fund of Funds    

A Fund of Funds (FoF) is a unique type of passive investment vehicle that invests in multiple mutual funds rather than directly in individual securities. By pooling funds from various sources, an FoF provides diversification across different asset classes, sectors, and markets. The fund manager selects and manages passive funds that align with the investor's risk profile, which may come from the same or different fund houses. FoFs offer investors a convenient way to diversify their portfolios and reduce risk exposure.

What Should Be Your Investment Strategy in Passive Funds?

When considering an investment strategy for passively managed funds, it is crucial to focus on your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. Here are some steps to help you devise a sound approach:

●    Identify your objectives: Start by determining your financial goals, whether they involve saving for retirement, funding your child's education, or accumulating wealth for a significant purchase. Defining clear objectives will help you decide on the right mix of passive funds that cater to your needs.
●    Diversify your portfolio: Diversification is a critical component of any investment strategy, and passive funds offer an excellent opportunity for it. Allocate your investments across various asset classes, sectors, and geographical regions by selecting a mix of ETFs, index funds, Smart Beta funds, and Funds of Funds. This approach will help spread risk and potentially enhance returns over time.
●    Assess your risk tolerance: Understand your risk appetite before investing in passive funds. Some funds may have higher volatility, while others may provide more stable returns. Choose funds that align with your risk tolerance to ensure that you can handle market fluctuations without jeopardising your financial goals.
●    Focus on the long term: Passive investing is most effective when pursued over a long period. Market fluctuations can have a minimal impact on your investments if you maintain a long-term perspective. Resist the urge to react to short-term market movements, and stay committed to your chosen passive funds.
●    Monitor and rebalance: Regularly review your passive fund investments to ensure they continue to align with your financial goals and risk tolerance. Rebalance your portfolio if required, by adjusting the allocation of assets to maintain the desired level of diversification and risk exposure.

Things to know about Passive Mutual Funds

1. Investment Strategy 

The primary investment strategy for passive mutual funds is the "buy and hold" approach. Fund managers aim to replicate the benchmark index's composition, requiring minimal portfolio adjustments. This results in lower costs compared to actively managed funds. Passive managed funds utilise various techniques, such as tracking broad market or sector indices, to optimise investment outcomes. Investors should consider their financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon when choosing the right passive funds to include in their portfolios.

2. Risk 

Passive mutual funds, like any market-linked investment, carry inherent risks. However, their risk levels are generally lower than those of actively managed funds. By replicating the market index, passive funds invest in a diversified range of securities, providing a level of stability. For long-term investors, these funds can offer benchmark returns with lower volatility. Nevertheless, it is essential to assess your risk tolerance and choose funds that align with your investment goals and risk appetite.

3. Returns

Passive mutual funds aim to mirror the performance of their underlying benchmark index, such as the Sensex or Nifty. This means that their portfolio structure and stock allocation closely resemble the index they follow. Consequently, the returns generated by passive funds tend to be on par with market returns. While they don't seek to outperform the index like active funds, passive funds focus on delivering benchmark returns with minimal deviation.


The growth of passive mutual funds in India is attributed to the increasing awareness of the benefits of low-cost index-tracking investments. Investors often ask, "What is passive mutual funds?" By replicating the performance of a benchmark index, passive funds allow investors to benefit from the market's growth without the need for active stock picking and frequent trading.

To better understand your investment options, it's important to grasp the passive mutual funds meaning and types. The various types of passive funds, such as ETFs, index funds, Smart Beta funds, and Funds of Funds, offer a diverse range of investment opportunities, enabling investors to build a well-diversified portfolio. By carefully considering their financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon, investors can develop a tailored strategy that leverages the benefits of passive investing.

Regular monitoring and rebalancing, when necessary, ensure that the passive fund investments continue to align with the investor's objectives and risk appetite. Overall, passive mutual funds serve as a valuable tool for long-term wealth creation and can be an integral part of any investor's financial plan, delivering consistent market returns with minimal management costs and effort.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A fund becomes passive primarily to minimise management costs and provide investors with a cost-effective way to invest in the market. By replicating a benchmark index's performance, passive funds eliminate the need for active stock picking, research, and frequent trading, which can drive up management fees. By comprehending the passive mutual funds meaning, investors can make informed decisions about whether this type of fund aligns with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

Passive investment funds are managed by fund managers who closely track a specific benchmark index. Their primary responsibility is to maintain a portfolio composition that mirrors the index's underlying assets. This involves investing in the same securities and in similar proportions as the target index. Unlike active fund management, passive management requires minimal intervention and adjustments, resulting in lower operating costs and fees. Passive funds are typically more transparent, as their holdings and strategies are tied to a publicly available index.

While no investment is entirely risk-free, passive investments are generally considered to be more secure than their actively managed counterparts. By tracking a benchmark index, passive funds invest in a diversified range of securities, providing stability and spreading the risk. The risk levels associated with passive funds are usually lower than those of actively managed funds, making them suitable for conservative investors or those with a long-term investment horizon. However, it is essential to assess your risk tolerance and choose funds that align with your investment goals and risk appetite to ensure a secure investment experience. The rise in popularity of passive investing can be attributed to the passive mutual funds definition, which emphasises cost-efficiency and a hands-off approach to investing.