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Groww v. ICICI Direct - Direct or Regular Mutual Fund Investment?

Groww v. ICICI Direct - Direct or Regular Mutual Fund Investment?

In the evolving landscape of financial investments, choosing the right platform for mutual fund investments can significantly impact your returns. Among the plethora of options, Groww and ICICI Direct have emerged as two prominent contenders, each catering to different investor needs. Groww, a relatively new entrant in the fintech space, has garnered attention for its user-friendly interface and zero-commission structure, making it a favored choice for millennials and tech-savvy investors. In contrast, ICICI Direct, a stalwart in the financial services industry, offers a comprehensive suite of investment options backed by robust research and advisory services.

The debate between opting for direct or regular mutual funds adds another layer of complexity to this decision. Direct mutual funds, available on platforms like Groww, allow investors to bypass intermediary commissions, potentially leading to higher returns. On the other hand, regular mutual funds, often recommended by ICICI Direct, come with the added benefit of expert guidance and personalized advice, albeit at a cost.

This blog post delves into a comparative analysis of Groww and ICICI Direct, examining their features, fee structures, and the pros and cons of investing in direct versus regular mutual funds. Whether you're a seasoned investor or a beginner, understanding these nuances will help you make an informed decision tailored to your financial goals.

The Groww App

In the landscape of financial technology, the Groww App stands out as a beacon of innovation and user-friendliness. Founded in 2016 by a quartet of former Flipkart employees—Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal—Groww emerged from a shared vision to simplify the investment process for the average Indian. The founders, equipped with a rich background in technology and business, embarked on a journey to demystify investing for the masses.


Company History:

The inception of Groww was rooted in a problem that the founders had identified through personal experience: the complexity and opacity of financial investments in India. They observed that out of the nearly 200 million people with investable income in the country, only about 10% were actively investing. To bridge this gap, Groww was created with the mission to make investing straightforward and accessible.



Lalit Keshre, the CEO, brings a holistic view of business operations with a focus on product and customer experience. His prior ventures include Eduflix and a significant role at Flipkart. Harsh Jain, the COO, oversees growth and business, drawing from his experience in product management and his entrepreneurial stint in storytelling startups. Neeraj Singh, the CTO, is the tech wizard leading product development and customer research, with a rich history of engineering management at Flipkart. Lastly, Ishan Bansal, the CFO, manages the financial aspects of Groww, leveraging his expertise from Flipkart and Naspers, and his academic background from BITS Pilani and XLRI Jamshedpur.


Mutual Fund Investment:

Groww provides a seamless platform for mutual fund investments, offering a plethora of options for both seasoned investors and novices. The platform supports Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) and equity-linked savings, catering to diverse financial goals and risk appetites. What sets Groww apart is its commitment to transparency and ease of use, ensuring that users can invest without any hassle or hidden fees.


Direct Mutual Fund Plans:

One of the standout features of the Groww App is its offering of direct mutual fund plans. These plans are a boon for investors as they come without any commission fees, which translates to higher returns in the long run. Groww's direct plans are a testament to the company's user-centric approach, providing an avenue for investors to maximize their earnings.


The Groww App has indeed disrupted the traditional investment avenues in India, making it a frontrunner in the fintech space. With a valuation of $3 billion and a user base predominantly under the age of 40, Groww is not just an app—it's a movement towards a financially empowered and literate India.


As Groww continues to evolve and expand its offerings, it remains dedicated to its core philosophy: to make investing a simple, transparent, and rewarding experience for everyone.

ICICI Direct

ICICI Direct, a part of ICICI Securities, is a leading online trading and investment platform in India. It was established as a subsidiary of ICICI Bank, one of the country's largest private-sector banks. ICICI Direct has been instrumental in providing a wide array of investment options to retail and institutional investors, including mutual funds, equities, derivatives, and other financial products.


Company History

ICICI Direct's journey began with the establishment of its parent entity, ICICI Bank, which was formed in 1955 at the initiative of the World Bank, the Government of India, and representatives of Indian industry. The bank was initially created to provide medium-term and long-term project financing to Indian businesses. Over the years, ICICI evolved from a development financial institution into a diversified financial services provider, offering a range of products and services. In 1994, ICICI Bank was incorporated, marking a significant milestone in the group's history.



The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) was founded with Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar as its first Chairman. The leadership and vision of the founders played a crucial role in shaping the institution's growth trajectory and its eventual transformation into a universal bank.


Mutual Fund Investment

ICICI Direct has been a key player in the mutual fund investment space, partnering with numerous Asset Management Companies (AMCs) to offer a variety of mutual fund schemes. It is known for being the second-largest non-bank distributor of mutual funds in India, managing a substantial asset base across multiple mutual fund folios.


Investors can choose from a plethora of mutual fund options, including equity, debt, and hybrid funds, to suit their investment goals and risk appetite. ICICI Direct provides a platform for both Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) and lump-sum investments, catering to the needs of diverse investor segments.


Regular Mutual Fund Plans

It is important to note that ICICI Direct offers only regular mutual fund plans. These plans are sold through intermediaries like ICICI Direct, and they include a commission paid to the intermediary. This is in contrast to direct mutual fund plans, which are sold directly by AMCs to customers and do not involve intermediary commissions, potentially leading to higher returns for investors.


ICICI Direct's regular mutual fund plans come with professional management, liquidity, diversification, and the potential for tax-saving benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act for certain fund categories. However, investors looking for direct mutual fund plans would need to approach AMCs directly or through other platforms that offer such plans.


ICICI Direct has established itself as a robust platform for mutual fund investments, offering regular plans that cater to a wide range of investment objectives. While it does not provide direct mutual fund plans, its comprehensive suite of investment services continues to attract a significant number of investors looking for managed investment solutions.

Detailed Comparison

When it comes to investing in mutual funds, the platform you choose can significantly impact your investment experience and returns. In India, two popular platforms that offer mutual fund investments are Groww App and ICICI Direct. Here's a detailed comparison of the two, focusing on Groww's direct mutual fund schemes and ICICI Direct's regular mutual fund schemes.


Groww App: Direct Mutual Fund Schemes


Groww App is an investment platform that has gained popularity for its user-friendly interface and the option to invest in direct mutual fund schemes. Direct mutual funds are those where the investor invests directly with the mutual fund company, bypassing any intermediaries. This means there are no commission fees involved, which can lead to higher returns over time.


Groww offers a wide range of direct mutual fund options from various asset management companies (AMCs). Investors can choose from over 1000 direct mutual fund options and pay 0% commission on these investments. The platform allows both SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) and lump-sum investments, and payments can be made conveniently via UPI.


The platform also provides educational resources to help investors make informed decisions. It offers a comparison tool to evaluate different mutual funds, helping users to understand the nuances of each fund before investing.


ICICI Direct: Regular Mutual Fund Schemes


ICICI Direct, on the other hand, is a part of ICICI Securities and offers a platform for investing in regular mutual fund schemes. Regular mutual funds are those where the investment is made through an intermediary or broker, which in this case is ICICI Direct. These schemes include commission fees that are paid out to the intermediary, which can slightly reduce the overall returns for the investor.


ICICI Direct has partnered with 39 AMCs and offers over 2500+ schemes across various asset classes. The platform provides features like liquidity, diversification, professional management, and accessibility. It also offers tax-saving options like Equity-Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) with tax exemptions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.


One of the key differences between ICICI Direct and Groww is the fee structure. ICICI Direct charges a commission for the mutual fund investments, which varies based on the transaction amount. This is in contrast to Groww's zero-commission direct mutual fund offerings.

Direct vs. Regular Mutual Funds


In the realm of mutual fund investments, the choice between direct and regular plans is a pivotal decision for investors. Understanding the nuances between these two can significantly impact the potential returns and the investment experience. Here's an in-depth look at why direct mutual funds are often considered a better choice compared to their regular counterparts.


Direct Mutual Funds: A Path to Enhanced Returns


Direct mutual funds are schemes where the investor buys directly from the asset management company (AMC). The absence of intermediaries such as brokers or distributors means no commission fees are involved. This results in a lower expense ratio for the fund, which directly translates to higher returns for the investor over time.


Regular Mutual Funds: The Cost of Guidance


Regular mutual funds, on the other hand, involve investing through an intermediary. This could be a financial advisor, a bank's relationship manager, or a broker. These intermediaries are compensated for their services through commissions paid by the fund houses, which are then passed on to the investor in the form of a higher expense ratio. While this might be suitable for investors who require ongoing support and advice, it does eat into the potential returns.


Expense Ratio: The Silent Eater of Returns


The expense ratio is a fee charged by AMCs to manage the fund, covering costs like investment management, advisory fees, and marketing. This fee is deducted from the fund's Net Asset Value (NAV) daily. Since regular plans have a higher expense ratio due to the commission paid to intermediaries, they tend to offer lower returns compared to direct plans.


Net Asset Value (NAV): The Impact on Investment


The NAV of a mutual fund is the per-unit price at which investors buy and sell fund shares. It reflects the fund's underlying assets' value after accounting for expenses. With direct plans having a lower expense ratio, the NAV tends to be higher compared to regular plans, offering a better value proposition for the investor.


Financial Advisor: The Role and Its Cost


A financial advisor's role in regular plans is to guide the investor through the investment process, helping decide where and how much to invest based on the individual's objectives. While this service can be invaluable for some, it comes at a cost that is factored into the expense ratio of regular plans. In contrast, direct plans do not include these advisory fees, as investors make decisions independently.


The Verdict


Direct mutual funds offer a more cost-effective investment route with the potential for higher returns due to their lower expense ratios. They are particularly suited for savvy investors who are comfortable making their own investment decisions without the need for a financial advisor. Regular mutual funds, while providing the benefit of expert guidance, come with higher costs that can diminish returns over time.


Investors must weigh the importance of professional advice against the potential for higher returns when choosing between direct and regular mutual funds. Ultimately, the better choice depends on the investor's knowledge, confidence, and investment goals.


For those who prioritize maximizing returns and have a good grasp of the investment landscape, direct mutual funds stand out as the preferable option. However, for investors who value professional advice and are willing to pay a premium for it, regular mutual funds may still hold an appeal.


Direct mutual funds are generally better than regular mutual funds for those who seek to optimize their investment returns and are confident in managing their investments independently. The lower expense ratio is a compelling reason, as it ensures that a greater portion of the investment's growth remains with the investor.



The choice between Groww App and ICICI Direct for mutual fund investments depends on the investor's preferences. If you're looking for a platform that offers direct mutual fund schemes with no commission fees, Groww App might be the better choice. However, if you prefer a platform that provides a wide range of regular mutual fund options with professional management and don't mind paying a commission for the intermediary's services, ICICI Direct could be suitable.


Investors should consider their investment goals, risk tolerance, and the importance of cost savings due to the absence of commission fees when making their decisions. Both platforms have their own set of advantages and cater to different investor needs. It's crucial to conduct thorough research and possibly consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Remember, the right platform for you will align with your investment strategy and financial goals. Happy investing!

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