Online Mutual Fund Investment is really a DIRECT Investment?

Recently, when I wrote blog posts like “Top 10 Best Mutual Funds to invest in India for 2015” and “How to invest in Mutual Funds in India online?“, I found too many quarries asking me whether online mutual fund investment in India is really a DIRECT investment?

Before proceeding further, let me share a video shared by Mr. Srikanth Shankar Matrubai on one Whatsapp advisory group. This video was created by another fellow adviser, Mr. Ramesh Bhat.

In this video, you notice that reflecting the direct plans. Once you click on “Invest online” tab, and then DIRECT will disappear. In that place normal plan with money control ARN will be available on individual mutual fund company online purchase site. If you do not notice this then there is a high probability that you end up in buying normal plans than direct plans.


I am not stating that moneycontrol is doing anything wrong. However, highlighting the fund name of DIRECT but redirecting the visitors to normal plans is completely misguiding. 

Next comes the online portals. These days, even a small adviser offers you online mutual fund buying platform from his site. So buying online with these online portals will not be DIRECT option. Instead, it will be normal funds only. Whether this online platform is your demat account provider, banks, some online portals, few advisory firms or an individual.

Please keep in mind that except mutual fund companies NONE of the intermediaries selling you DIRECT plans. Therefore, to earn the benefit of DIRECT plans, you have only option is to invest through mutual fund companies directly. If someone is offering you online platform, then you must keep in mind that it is not DIRECT plan, but a regular plan where he earns trail and upfront commission on your investment.

This is not the case with mutual funds alone. You find few insurance brokers, aggregators (a site that compares your insurance need and select a product for you) and few financial planners also who really push online term insurance of the particular company ONLY. You feel that you are buying online, but there again, these intermediaries earning commission on that. So never ever, heed if someone tries to push you any particular product. Whether he is fee based financial planner or fee only financial planner. 

Buying ONLINE or DIRECT option is not so worry free or cost effective. The risks are there at every stage. So be cautious while buying mutual funds in DIRECT mode or life insurance through online mode.

Hope this update will clear your doubts about online buying of mutual funds and a small caution about online term insurance buying 🙂 

63 Responses

  1. Invezta is a direct mutual fund online investing portal. Free till Rs. 50,000/- investments. The below code helps you to get Rs. 75,000/- investment limit. If you are a beginner you can use the service as there are no opening charges, excellent interface besides “Direct” mutual fund investments.

    Coupon Code: 55C648

    Apply the above code while you register to get the investment limit of Rs. 75,000/- plus all features for free of cost.

    Honest Disclaimer: I received the above code when I registered. I get Rs. 25,000/- additional limit every time an investment is made through the code above. You will also receive a similar code upon registering and making first investment.

  2. Halo sir, Am planning to open a flexi Rd as i am not sure about my goals. I might need an amount after 3 years , could I withdraw money after 3years and continue in a10 year scheme.

  3. Sir, I wanna know that if i want to purchase sbi pharma fund in Sip in direct plan then shall i go to purchase this fund in sbi mutual fund house personally and do my kyc update?If not then plz tell me the procedure for direct investment.Ur article is very helpful to us.Thanks for your valuable advice.

  4. Dear Sir,

    Good Morning!

    I am existing MF investor in HDFC Midcap Opportunities Fund – regular plan with growth option and I have invested through HDFC bank. I am investing Rs. 3000/- as SIP in this fund every month from past 8 months. I have folio number and I HPIN through which I am able to see and track my folio online.

    I know I have option to SWITCH from current regular plan to direct plan. Suppose now I switch from Regular plan to direct plan of same scheme would my further/future SIPs of this scheme and same folio would be treated as Direct Investments or same regular plan SIPs?

    Thank you Sir.

  5. Sir, I would like to know that if I invest in mutual funds through my demat a/c i.e, Sharekhan, whether folio number will be generated or not, and if yes, then whether this folio number can be used for buying mutual funds in direct plans

    1. Ranjit-Yes, once you invest through your demat account then folio number will be generated. Using this folio number you can invest in DIRECT funds of that PARITUCLAR AMC. Because folio number is mutual fund company specific.

  6. CAMSOnline is an RTA where MF investors can transact through desktop. Whereas, their myCAMS app can be used not only to create a folio but also used for Mutual Fund transactions like purchase, redeem, switch and much more through myCAMS!

  7. Mr.Basavaraj

    Recently I have registered for KYC on fundsindia but I, didn`t get CAN. To invest CAN is must is it not?.
    But the adviser asked me to invest in few MF as per my appetite.
    They also told that their service is absolutely free of cost. I am confused in what way their service free, is it possible.

  8. Hi,
    I am new to MF and planing to start a SIP. I have shortlisted Franklin India Taxshield Fund – Direct Plan,
    Axis Long Term Equity Fund – Direct Plan as tax savings is one of my criteria. I could not figure out how to start investing on this MF directly. It will be very much helpful for someone new to this world like me if you can provide the steps. just for simplicity, If you can write a new article with the website links and the steps to follow to buy HDFC direct fund…we will be able to refer it for other fund houses.


    1. Biswajit-No confusion nor a big process. You visit to respective mutual fund companies with KYC documents like address proof, PAN Card, Cheque leaf and Passport size photo(keep original to show them as they do in person verification). Let them do KYC Process, and along with that fill the application with their help specifically mentioning as you are investing in DIRECT. For next mutual fund investment, take the print out of KYC status on CVLKRA, cheque and visit company office. Do as you did first. They will guide you in processing.

  9. aditya birla money my universe, which offers ZIP SIP, what are your thoughts on the same website, would all the SIP that are sold here on their website, be direct or regular

  10. Thanks a lot Basavaraj Sir, Recently hit your website & lot of financial knowledge shared…!! Appreciate it…!!

    I have a question..!!

    As you say DIRECT plan is better, say I want to do SIP in ICICI Pru top 100 & HDFC Top 200 & Axis mutual funds. Now if I go with DIRECT plans do I have multiple folio numbers & multiple logins to track my funds ?

    Can I buy from respective fund websites instead of bank websites to invest in DIRECT plans ? Do I need to do multiple KYC for each of them?

    Or still I can have single account from where I can buy all these SIP in DIRECT plans & track from single place ?
    If yes what will be the procedure or place ?

    Please suggest

    Thanks in advance…!!

    1. Raj-Yes, you will have multiple folio numbers (even in case of regular mode) representing respective mutual fund companies. However, tracking may be multiple, but you can consolidate your investments by using online platforms like valueresearch, fundoo or moneycontrol. Banks act like agents. Hence, they not offer DIRECT funds. You have to visit respective mutual fund company portals to buy direct funds.

  11. Hello sir,

    Can you please tell me if i want to invest in direct fund can i go to any online fund house say for axis mutual fund need to visit axis mutual fund website and choose direct option.

  12. I already invested in a fund online via SIP and have folio number with a AMC.
    Now Can use the same Folio number and invest in the same fund but direct fund now instead of regular fund .

    And can the same Folio number be used to buy as many funds from a AMC.

  13. Sir,
    I’m planning to take a Parivar Mediclaim policy of National Insurance via directly online as it offers 10% discount. So is there any complexities or problems after taking online policy.

  14. Hi Basavaraj. I am new to Mutual Funds Investment. I am planning to invest in Axis Long Term Equity Fund – Regular Growth. Can you suggest me whether this Fund is Good to invest in. This Fund has a lock-in Period of 3 years. So I am ready to wait for 6+ years for the return. Also Can you suggest other Mutual Fund Options where I can make monthly investment.

    Thanks and Regards,

    1. Thanks Basavaraj for the suggestion. How about investing in ICICI Top 100 Fund and ICICI Balanced Fund.
      Say i take a monthly SIP of 5000 rs in Top100 fund and a Lumpsum of 50000 rs in Balanced Fund.

      And in addition to this Monthly investment of 1500 rs in Reliance Small cap fund and 1500 rs in DSP Black rock Euity fund.

      Kindly advise.

      1. Pavan-For your 6 years goal, I suggest you to use around 60% in debt and another 40% in equity. For debt, use ultra short term debt funds or short term gilt. For equity, yes ICICI Top 100 is enough.

  15. Hi,
    After going though your posts, its evident that it will be always fruitful to go for DIRECT. But can you tell me will MF utilities will make it much simpler to maintain DIRECT plans.
    Consider if
    (1) I have CAN number , MF Utilities Online access –
    Which i hope makes monitoring of DIRECT plans much easier than earlier
    (2) I have done the selection of DIRECT plan and invested in DIRECT
    in future through MF Utilities purchasing will be much easier
    (3) I have no intentions to update any KYC details,communication address etc

    (4) I will be continuously monitoring your blogs and gaining knowledge 🙂

    what are the things i have to take care being in DIRECT or i will miss as a service which i would have got if i had selected regular.
    (1) Is there any thing to be taken care of in terms of TAX calculations, If i go for DIRECT over Regular.

    (2) Other major things to take care

    1. Vinod-MF Utility is about to launch this DIRECT option too. So wait for some more time to enjoy this 🙂 Direct is fruitful only when you know where you are investing and what is the risk and how to plan on your own. Otherwise the same DIRECT funds may create panic in your life.

  16. a. I would prefer to start a MF SIP, preferably a DIRECT plan rather than a REGULAR plan.
    b. Please guide as to which of the following routes should be undertaken to start a MF SIP:
    1. Apply online on the individual AMC website or
    2. Apply through a distributor like a bank, say Axis Bank or
    3. Newly launched MF Utility website
    Kindly suggest with Pros and Cons for each of them with the preferable option.

    1. Sanchit-If you want all process be sitting in home (without taking pain) then better to go for regular. Also do remember that while investing, you must also monitor it regular base. If you are capable of handling monitoring and managing official things on your own then you can go for DIRECT.

  17. I have invested in the ICICI India Recovery Fund Series -2 . It is closed-end scheme. Shall I continue to invest in these type of closed-end scheme. What are the pros and cons of closed-end scheme. Please advise.

    1. Manimekalai-First thing is, money get blocked. Second and most important thing is, we don’t know how these funds perform. Instead I go for open ended funds which have track record to compare. Close ended schemes are meant for advisers selling. But not for investors. They agressively sell such close ended funds. Because commission in such funds are higher than normal funds 🙂

  18. Hi basavara
    nice article.
    Do u think nav value of direct and regular plan will widen as years go by ? Or they ll differ only by few paisa even in long term?
    I have checked the currently available data and in most of them
    Nav difference seems to be same at any point of time over the past few years. Shouldnt be the nav diff of direct plan increase every year against regular plan? Or will the MF company forcefully maintain the difference for some reasons to benefit someone? Can u eloborate

  19. I understand from your article that i loose some money if i dont do direct investment and buy a regular plan from website like fundsindia. Question for you – how much is their commission? Can you give me some example? I want to understand it in monetary terms.

  20. what about investing hdfcmfonline and selecting direct without broker name ? is it still HDFC as broker and not a direct plan ?

  21. Hi basavaraj

    its very clear and helpful for people like me who are not having complete knowledge . thank you its very useful

  22. Hi
    If I invest through broker my NAV will be low but Funds units will be high, where as if i invest directly my NAV will be high but units will be lesser. From a new investor point of view this Direct or Regular plan does makes any difference?

    And as both the NAV go simultaneously with the fix difference over time, I suppose that this Direct or Regular won’t make any difference to my Fund value correct?

    Please correct me if i am wrong.

    Thanks & Regards

    1. Sekhar-Do you feel the NAV matters your return? Check your knowledge. What matters more is the performance of fund than how many units hold and what NAV it is. When you invest in any instrument which offers less expenses then investing amount will be higher. Simple logic.

  23. Sir, I have a query. I am currently SIPPING in a couple of funds. Can I use the same folio No, when I renew the SIP through AMCs websites directly? AYYAPPAN

  24. Hello Basavarajbhai,

    You have created a wonderful platform for educating and helping one and all! Keep it up!!

    I am 44 years State Govt Servant getting annual package of 8-00 lakh and non-smoker. I intend to have one 15 years basic term insurance plan of sum assured Rs. 75 lakh. The premium offered by Max Life is Rs 12750/- and that by LIC Rs. 24400/-(online). Others are offering in between. Max Life, LIC and some others are suitable as per the brochure. I can’t decide which one to select. Max is offering lowest premium but I don’t know if they shut their business or get bankrupt in some years, what can I do or what steps can be taken. Alternatively LIC is Govt controlled but I don’t know if LIC will be fully privatised by Govt in near future. You have given lots of information but I need trust rating in terms of the criteria mentioned above before selection.


  25. Hi Basu,

    Can you please confirm if there is any difference buying a MF though a company vs parent bank?

    Say I plan to buy ICICI Pru Tax Plan , Is it same to invest via ICICI Prudential and ICICI Bank?

    1. Ankit-Yes there is a difference. If we consider your example then ICICI Pru Mutual Fund is a mutual fund company which offers regular as well as direct plans. ICICI Bank act like intermediary and have it’s own ARN code. ICICI Bank exactly acts like a adviser. So they not offer you DIRECT plans.

  26. Your BLOG is a must-2 follow-up for anyone who is an Investor (almost everyone 🙂 ).

    By the way, can you please help us understand what risks are you referring to while investing DIRECT through AMCs, “Buying ONLINE or DIRECT option is not so worry free or cost effective. The risks are there at every stage.”?

    1. Ravi-If you directly interacting with AMC then no risk at all. But few feel lazy and try to avoid AMCs and opt for online investing. So what I am pointing is even if you are investing online please make sure to mention DIRECT in the form (at the place of ARN number and with the fund name). This makes you to be safer.

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