Difference between open-ended and closed-ended funds
Mutual funds are classified according to various attributes, such as the nature of investment, risk profile and investment philosophy.

Apart from these, the funds are differentiated on the basis of their structure-open-ended and closed-ended. The difference between the two depends on the flexibility of sale and purchase of fund units.

Open-ended funds: These funds buy and sell units on a continuous basis and, hence, allow investors to enter and exit as per their convenience.
Posted - 23 July 2012
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The units can be purchased and sold even after the initial offering (NFO) period (in case of new funds).

The units are bought and sold at the net asset value (NAV) declared by the fund.
The number of outstanding units goes up or down every time the fund house sells or repurchases the existing units. This is the reason that the unit capital of an open-ended mutual fund keeps varying.

The fund expands in size when the fund house sells more units than it repurchases as more money is flowing in. On the other hand, the fund's size reduces when the fund house repurchases more units than it sells. An open-ended fund is not obliged to keep selling new units all the time.

For instance, if the management thinks that it cannot manage a large-sized fund optimally, it can stop accepting new subscription requests from investors. However, it has to repurchase the units at all times.

Closed-ended funds: The unit capital of closed-ended funds is fixed and they sell a specific number of units. Unlike in open-ended funds, investors cannot buy the units of a closed-ended fund after its NFO period is over.

This means that new investors cannot enter, nor can existing investors exit till the term of the scheme ends. However, to provide a platform for investors to exit before the term, the fund houses list their closed-ended schemes on a stock exchange.

Trading on a stock exchange enables investors to buy and sell units through a broker in the same manner as transacting the shares of a company.

The units may trade at a premium or discount to the NAV depending on the investors' expectations of the fund's future performance and prospects. The demand and supply of fund units and other market factors also affect their price.