Index funds are a type of mutual fund that invests in the stocks of companies in a particular stock market index, such as the Nifty 50 or BSE Sensex.
Index funds aim to replicate the performance of the underlying index by investing in all the stocks in that index in the same proportion as they are represented in the index.
For example, the top 10 companies with their respective weightages are
|Reliance Industries Ltd||Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels||10.34%|
|HDFC Bank Ltd||Financial Services||9.31%|
|ICICI Bank Ltd||Financial Services||8.04%|
|Infosys Ltd.||Information Technology||6.68%|
|Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited||Financial Services||6.24%|
|Tata Consultancy Services Ltd||Information Technology||4.31%|
|Larsen & Toubro Ltd||Construction||3.43|
|Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd||Financial Services||3.34%|
|Axis Bank Ltd||Financial Services||3.08%|
These top 10 stocks represent almost 56% of the total weightage of Nifty 50. The other 40 stocks also have their respective weightage, but their contribution to the index is relatively less.
A nifty 50 Index fund invests in the same shares in the given proportion as that nifty 50. This approach makes index funds low-cost, and highly diversified investment options.
Tata Nifty 50 index fund invests in a similar ratio to Nifty 50 stocks.
Some of the common indexes include
- Nifty Bank index
- Nifty Midcap 100
- Nifty 100
- Nifty Smallcap
- Nifty 500
Types of Index Funds in India
There are several types of index funds available to Indian investors, each with its unique characteristics and benefits. The following are the most common types of index funds available in India:
#1. Equity Index Funds
Equity index funds invest in the stocks of companies listed on a particular stock market’s index, such as the BSE Sensex or the Nifty 50. Equity index funds are a low-cost way to invest in the stock market, as they have low expense ratios compared to actively managed funds.
You can also read How to Invest in Nifty 50 article to understand other ways to invest in the Nifty 50 index.
#2. Debt Index Funds
Debt index funds invest in a portfolio of fixed-income securities such as bonds, debentures, and other debt instruments that track a particular debt index. Debt index funds are a low-risk investment option for investors who are looking for stable returns with minimal risk.
#3. International Index Funds
International index funds invest in stocks listed on international stock exchanges such as the Nasdaq, Dow Jones, and the FTSE 100. International index funds provide Indian investors with exposure to international markets and enable them to diversify their portfolios geographically.
Benefits of Index Fund Investment
#1. Low Costs
Index funds have low expense ratios compared to actively managed funds, as they do not require active management. You can save 2% -3% considerable amount of money in fees and charges over time.
Index funds provide investors with a diversified portfolio of stocks or fixed-income securities. This diversification helps to minimize risk and optimize returns over the long term.
#3. Passive Management
Index funds are passively managed, which means that there is no need for an investment manager to actively buy and sell securities. This approach reduces the overall cost of the fund and ensures that the investment performance is not impacted by the biases or decisions of the fund manager.
#4. Consistent Performance
Index funds have a history of delivering consistent performance over the long term. As index funds are designed to replicate the performance of the underlying index, they tend to perform in line with broader market trends.
#5. Suitable for Beginners
Index funds are an excellent investment option for beginners who do not have much experience in investing in the stock market. As index funds are low-risk, low-cost, and highly diversified, they provide an easy and convenient way for beginners to invest in the stock market.
How to Compare an Index Fund
Factors to consider when choosing an index fund to invest in are –
- Expense Ratio – Opt for funds with a low expense ratio to reduce fees and potentially enhance returns.
- Tracking Error – Assess the fund’s tracking error to determine how closely it tracks the underlying index. A lower tracking error is generally considered preferable.
- Fund Size – Invest in funds with adequate assets under management (AUM) to ensure that the fund is well-established and has adequate resources to manage its investments effectively.
- Fund House – Examine the reputation and track record of the fund house that offers the fund to gain insights into its management style and approach.
Reputed mutual fund houses in India are –
- LIC mutual fund
- ICICI Prudential mutual fund
- SBI mutual fund
- HDFC mutual fund
- UTI mutual fund
Top 10 Index Funds in India 2023
Based on the returns here are the top 10 Index funds in India
|Best Index Funds||Last 5-year Annualized Returns||Last 1-Year Return|
|Tata Nifty 50 Index Fund -Direct Plan||12.23%||-0.681%|
|UTI Nifty 50 Index Fund – Growth Option- Direct||12.22%||-0.812%|
|Nippon India Index Fund – Nifty 50 Plan – Direct Plan Growth Plan – Growth Option||12.13%||-0.816%|
|ICICI Prudential Nifty 50 Index Fund – Direct Plan Cumulative Option||12.13%||-0.819%|
|LIC MF Nifty 50 Index Fund-Direct Plan-Growth||12.05%||-1.066|
|Taurus Nifty 50 Index Fund – Direct Plan-Growth||12.02%||-0.827%|
|IDBI NIFTY 50 Index Fund Growth||12.01%||-0.919%|
|Taurus Nifty 50 Index Fund – Direct Plan – Growth||11.98%||-0.405%|
|LIC MF Nifty 50 Index Fund-Direct Plan-Growt||11.93%||-0.702%|
|HDFC Index Fund-NIFTY 50 Plan – Growth Plan||11.92%||-1.037%|
Disclaimer – it is essential to remember that past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
You can check the article on best index funds in India for more details like expense ratio, and minimum investment amount.
Step-by-Step Process to Invest in Index Funds in India
Step 1 – Choose an Investment Platform
You need an account with a stock broker or mutual fund investment platform. Some popular platforms are
- Zerodha Coin
You can invest through your existing Zerodha Demat account. If you want to open an account then you can learn step by step process to open Zerodha account.
If you already have a demat & trading account with other brokers, then check if he offers investment in index funds or not.
Step 2 – Search the Index fund
After login, search for the index fund that you want to invest
You can check the details like fund past performance, compare return with market return, expense ratio, and exit load.
Step 3 – Place Order
You can invest a lump sum amount or you can start a SIP for index funds. For a lumpsum investment, you only need to mention the investment amount.
For SIP, provide the details regarding
- Initial Investment
- Installment amount
- Frequency like monthly, weekly, or quarterly
- Date for installment
Click on ‘start SIP’ to place the order.
How to Invest in Index Funds on Zerodha
You can invest in Index funds through Zerodha coin. Here are the steps
Step 1 – Login into your coin.zerodha.com portal
Step 2 –either select ‘index fund category’ and search for the index fund that you want to invest in.
Or directly search the index fund name in the top search bar.
Step 3 – Click on ‘Buy’ for a one-time investment or click on SIP options for regular investment
Step 4 – Enter the lump sum amount that you want to invest.
In the case of SIP enter the details like
- Initial Investment
- Installment amount
- Frequency like monthly, weekly, or quarterly
- Date for installment
Step 5 – Make payment in case of lumpsum investment or click on Create SIP.
Now you have to approve the e-Mandate to authorize your bank to make regular investments in your above-mentioned SIP. You can also read our dedicated article on how to invest in mutual funds using Zerodha coin.
Drawbacks of Index Funds
#1. Risk of Tracking Error
Index funds are designed to track a particular index. However, there is a risk of tracking error, which is the degree to which the index fund fails to track the index accurately. Tracking error poses a significant risk in index funds since index share weight changes and corporate actions can cause deviations from the index.
#2. Lack of Flexibility for Fund Managers
Index funds are required to maintain full investment in the index at all times, which limits the fund manager’s flexibility. While this rigidity can be advantageous during stable market conditions, or it can be problematic during extreme market upsides and downsides. For example, if the equity fund manager perceives the market to be excessively volatile, increasing the cash allocation can be beneficial. However, an index fund cannot take such a course of action.
#3. Potential Underperformance of Index Funds
While active funds have the potential to generate returns beyond their benchmark by taking additional risk, index funds merely replicate the underlying benchmark and are low-risk investments. As a result, investors who desire returns that exceed the benchmark index should avoid index funds.
#4. No Control over Holdings
You do not have control over the individual holdings in the funds. This means that you cannot exclude or include specific stocks or sectors from their portfolio.
Tax Implications on Index Funds
I. Short-term Capital Gains Tax
If you sell your index fund units within one year of purchase, you will be subject to short-term capital gains tax. Short-term capital gains are taxed as per your normal slab rate.
II. Long-term Capital Gains Tax
If you sell your index fund units after one year of purchase, you will be subject to long-term capital gains tax. The long-term capital gains tax is currently 10% of the gains above Rs. 1 lakh.
Index funds are good options for beginners who want to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks but don’t have time or knowledge for stock analysis.
You can expect the same return as the underlying index. But if you want to outperform the index return then you should invest in direct equity.
Direct equity carries higher risk as compared to index funds with higher return rewards. You can choose the right investment based on your risk appetite, and return goals.
Yes, index funds are a good investment option for beginners as they are low-cost, low-risk, and highly diversified.
You can monitor index fund performance by tracking the performance of the underlying index, analyzing the fund’s returns, and keeping up to date with market trends.
You can rebalance an index fund portfolio by selling and buying units of the fund to maintain the desired asset allocation.
The minimum investment amount for index funds in India varies depending on the fund house, but it is typically between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000.
Yes, investors can invest in index funds through a Demat account.
Yes, many index funds offer the option of investing through Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs).
It depends on your investment objectives and risk tolerance. Generally, investors should rebalance their index fund portfolio once a year or if there is a significant change in their investment goals.
Index funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are both types of passive investment funds that track an underlying index. However, ETFs are traded on stock exchanges like individual stocks, while index funds are bought and sold at the end of the trading day.
No, index funds are designed to replicate the performance of the underlying index and not to beat the market.
No, there is no lock-in period for investing in index funds in India. Investors can buy and sell index funds as per their investment goals. But if you exit before 1 year, you may need to pay 1% exit load.
Yes, Indian residents can invest in international index funds offered by Indian fund houses.
Yes, investors can invest in multiple index funds to diversify their portfolio further.
Yes, investors can redeem their index fund units before maturity, but they may be subject to exit load and capital gains tax.
Yes, investors can invest in index funds through their bank account if the bank offers index fund investment services.
No, index funds are not risk-free as they are subject to market risk. However, they are considered low-risk compared to actively managed funds.