Index Funds Vs. Mutual Funds: Major Differences Highlighted

Index Funds Vs. Mutual Funds: Major Differences Highlighted
Nakla Team
Fintech Group
Feb 1, 2023
Mins Read
Last Updated
Feb 8, 2023
Index Funds vs Mutual Funds Featured Image

Choosing between mutual funds vs. index funds may appear to be difficult, like choosing between your favorite two meals.

Undoubtedly, you have the option of investing in both mutual funds and index funds, similar to ordering both desserts. However, there are significant distinctions between the two types of funds that can assist you in making an informed investment decision.

Let's compare mutual funds with index funds to see which is better for your specific portfolio and financial condition.

Index and Mutual Funds Overview

Index Funds Overview

The word "index fund" denotes a fund's investing strategy. It is a fund that seeks to replicate the success of specific market indices, like the S&P 500 or the Russell 2,000. This is distinct from an actively managed fund, in which investment managers choose investments in an effort to outperform the market. An index fund seeks to mirror, not outperform, the market.

This type of fund can be constituted as a mutual fund, as previously mentioned, or as an ETF. Unlike a mutual fund, the worth of an ETF varies on a stock market during a trading period. In contrast, mutual fund investors transact with the mutual fund firm by purchasing and selling a share in the company. Alternatively, ETF investors transact with other investors by purchasing or trading ETF shares.

Mutual Funds Overview

The phrase "mutual fund" refers to the framework of the fund instead of the investment plan pursued by the fund's shareholders. This type of fund pools the money of participants who pool their money to purchase and sell assets.

Dealing in a mutual fund does not include trading stocks of individual firms owned by the mutual fund; instead, it involves selling stocks of the mutual fund company itself. Investors trade mutual fund shares at a price fixed after a trading period; their worth does not vary during the trading period.

Is an index fund a mutual fund? 

No, Index fund There are a few distinctions between index funds and mutual funds, but here is the most important: Index funds invest in a fixed set of securities (for example, equities of S&P 500 businesses), whereas active mutual funds invest in a variable set of assets chosen by an investment advisor.

How are mutual funds and index funds similar?

Difference between Index Fund and Mutual Fund

Investment Goals:

The investing goal for each sort of fund differs. The purpose of index funds is to merely duplicate an index's performance, but mutual funds aim to beat the market. Actively managed funds, in essence, pick investments that will provide a decent yield to the market.

Investors seeking above-average profits may be tempted to mutual funds. Nevertheless, it may charge more because actively managing a mutual fund requires more effort. 

Active and Passive Fund Management:

The vast majority of mutual funds are actively managed, whereas all index funds are passively attempted. Active and passive are not indicators of grammar or vocabulary in this scenario. Let's take a closer look at this.

Active Fund Management:

A financial advisor who actively manages a fund is engaged in a mutual fund's regular inspection and stock or bond selection operations.

A staff of analysts will assist the fund management in regularly monitoring the market for trading opportunities. This may increase the likelihood of earning more significant returns.

As a result, the expense ratio of active funds is more significant to accommodate for the engagement of the financial adviser and his staff. When you depart any mutual fund, even index funds, you are fined an expense ratio.

Passive Fund Management:

Passive fund management is similar to producing passive income in that you spend once and then let the investment run for you while implementing periodic adjustments.

The Asset Management Company of a passively handled fund, such as an index fund, will duplicate an equity index and then set the portfolio on autopilot. 

A staff of experts will not be watching the market in a passively managed fund. In most circumstances, the fund will merely monitor an index and may not have a financial adviser.

As a result, the expense ratio of passively managed funds, particularly index funds, is well acknowledged to be extremely low. The trade-off is that so many index funds are considered to deliver consistent returns.

Tax Liability:

Mutual funds deliver capital gains to shareholders, who must pay capital gains taxes on their dividends. The more deals fund management executes, the more possibilities are there for the fund to achieve profits and distribute those profits to investors.

Index fund managers, on the other hand, generally make lesser trades, which means index funds often enjoy lower gains. This implies that index funds may reduce investors' tax liabilities in the near run.


Index funds invest in a particular group of securities, such as equities on a specified index or baseline. Mutual funds, alternatively invest in stocks and other instruments chosen by the fund manager. The equities may or may not be included in a particular index. Nevertheless, the investment manager selects them depending on the fund's aim.


Assume an investor is searching for increased portfolio versatility. Mutual funds are preferable in this instance since they are actively managed. Furthermore, the fund manager can hedge the portfolio under adverse situations. In addition, fund managers might sell in the short term to increase profitability.


Index and mutual funds may assist you in reaching your financial objectives in diverse ways. You may experience a passive, hands-off investment that provides consistent profits with just one. The other is an actively managed fund that may, in certain situations, outperform the market.

Speak with a financial adviser if you're unsure which is ideal for your objectives. Both investment firms may be appropriate for your long-term prosperity in many circumstances.

Index Funds Vs Mutual Funds FAQs

Which is better: index funds or mutual funds?

Both mutual funds and index funds offer diversification by trading in a wide range of stocks. Hence, it depends on the type of investment you plan to do as to which fund to invest in. 

Index Funds monitor a certain index, whereas mutual funds can pick equities to create returns consistent with their stated investing strategy. As a result, Index Funds invest in the same equities as the index.

Are index funds riskier than mutual funds?

Index funds and actively handled mutual funds are among the most famous assets in retirement portfolios. Both of these financial instruments provide diversity and are less hazardous, enabling consumers to invest in them with little money.  Index funds are referred to as passively managed funds since they do not make active decisions when selecting companies for their portfolio.

Nakla Team
Nakla Team

Nakla team aims to provide their customers with all the latest happenings in the financial market and keep them updated with trending terminologies. We have the resources that help you upgrade your investment game and make your investment journey seamless.