By Siddharth Srivastava
India’s passive investment market has built phenomenal momentum over the past five years. The AUM of passive funds in India now stands at Rs 6.46 lakh crores, witnessing more than 7 times increase over the past five years. The total number of passive schemes in India now stands at 294, with 157 ETFs managing assets worth Rs 5.22 Lakh Crore and 137 index funds grossing total assets worth Rs 1.24 Lakh Crore (As of Nov 2022).
Total Folio count for ‘ETFs other than gold’ has increased from Rs 69.05 lakh (Sep 2021) to Rs 1.17 crore (Sep 2022). This number three years back was merely Rs 11.76 lakh. While corporate folio has increased from 39,000 (Sep 2021) to 49,000 (Sep 2022), retail investors have participated aggressively in the ETF in the last year. The retail folio count has increased from 67 lakh (Sep 2021) to 1.15 Cr (Sep 2022). The Gold ETF folio has also witnessed an increase from 24.5 lakh (Sep 2021) to 46.5 lakh (Sep 2022). Lastly, the index fund folio count has also increased from 16.2 lakh (Sep 2021) to 29 lakh (Sep 2022). In the last year, year-on-year growth in folio count among all the categories of funds as specified by AMFI, the top three were, Index Funds, Gold ETFs, and ETFs other than gold growing by 79%, 89%, and 68% respectively. Equity-oriented schemes witnessed a growth of 22% whereas hybrid categories saw a growth of 15% in the number of folios counts for Sep 2022 over Sep 2021.
Looking at the rise in the folio count, it is perhaps unsurprising that the passive market in India has seen inflows worth Rs 1.7 Lakh crores in the past year and passive AUM has almost increased 53% from Rs 4.22 lakh crore in Nov 2021 to over Rs 6.46 lakh crore in Nov 2022.
Some of the reasons which have contributed to the growth of passive products are:
- Government’s use of ETFs for disinvestment (CPSE & Bharat 22 ETF) and to raise money for primary bond issuances by PSU (Bharat Bond ETF series) has increased the participation of retail investors
- ETFs are being used by EPFO and private PF bodies to take exposure to the equity market
- Shrinking alpha in active fund space, especially in the large-cap category, has made even an average investor aware of the benefit of plain vanilla ETFs like Nifty 50, Sensex, etc
- Transparent portfolio with known methodology and Low cost has made investors use passive products in core as well as their tactical portfolio
The year 2022 saw launches of 79 new index funds and 41 new ETFs grossing a total of Rs 17,841 Cr. in new collections during NFO. Apart from the usual names like Nifty 50 and Sensex-based funds which saw an inflow of Rs 45,682 Cr. and Rs 26,663 Cr. respectively during the year (as on Nov 30, 2022), target maturity funds amassed maximum inflows worth Rs 80,042 Cr. during the same period. Commodity funds on the other hand gathered inflows worth Rs 2,548 Cr. in the past year. Apart from target maturity funds, another product category “Smart Beta” garnered an inflow of approx. Rs 4,200 Cr. This is an encouraging number as it highlights that Indian investors are looking beyond traditional market cap portfolios and have evolved in terms of understanding the product.
The underperformance of active funds v/s benchmark and the lack of consistency of top funds in continuously achieving alpha are the major reasons for the shift towards passive. As on Dec 15, 2022, in the last 1 year for the Direct plan category, 86% of large-cap funds underperformed the Nifty 50 Index by an average of 2.6%. In the last 5 years, this figure rose to 92% by a margin of 1.6%. Even in the midcap category, 56% of midcap funds underperformed the Nifty Midcap 150 Index. This figure becomes higher when the index is compared against regular plans of active funds which are at much higher TER. For example, in the Regular plan, 83% of Midcap funds have underperformed Nifty Midcap 150 Index in the last 3 years.
Further, the simplicity of the passive is what makes it more appealing. The index portfolio is driven by known methodology and provides visibility and comfort to investors. The product innovation which is happening in passive space is also staggering. With launches in Smart beta and Thematic products, the investors are getting more options to take a desired/unique exposure in both core portfolio and satellite. Passive is evolving and so are the investors and the future seems bright for this space.
(Siddharth Srivastava is the Head of ETF Products at Mirae Asset Investment Managers (India) Private Limited. Views expressed are the author’s own. Please consult your financial advisor before investing.)