What is the Difference Between Open and Closed End Mutual Funds: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to investing in mutual funds, you may come across the terms open and closed-end mutual funds. But what exactly do these terms mean? To put it simply, the main difference between open and closed-end mutual funds lies in how they are bought and sold.

An open-end mutual fund means that the number of shares is not finite, which means that you can buy as many shares as you like at the current net asset value (NAV) of the fund. When you buy shares in an open-end fund, the money goes towards purchasing new investments for the fund. In contrast, a closed-end fund has a limited number of shares available, so when you buy shares, you are buying them from other investors on a stock exchange.

It’s important to note that there are other differences between these two types of funds, including the fees involved and the types of investments they hold. So, whether you are a seasoned investor or new to the game, understanding the differences between open and closed-end mutual funds can help you make informed decisions about your investments.

Types of mutual funds

Investing in mutual funds can provide a diversified portfolio with various benefits, but choosing the right type of mutual fund can be daunting. Here are the most common types of mutual funds:

  • Equity funds: Also known as stock funds, these mutual funds invest in a portfolio of stocks. They aim to provide higher returns than other types of mutual funds, but they are also riskier.
  • Bond funds: These mutual funds invest in bonds, which are essentially loans that investors provide to corporations, governments, and other entities. Bond funds generally provide more stable returns and lower risks than equity funds, but they also tend to have lower returns.
  • Money market funds: These mutual funds invest in short-term debt that has a maturity date of less than one year. They are considered safer than equity and bond funds, but they also offer lower returns.
  • Index funds: These mutual funds mimic the performance of a specific index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. They aim to provide returns that match the market and usually have low fees.
  • International funds: These mutual funds invest in companies outside the U.S. or in a specific region, such as Asia or Europe. They provide exposure to foreign markets but also carry higher risks and expenses.
  • Sector funds: These mutual funds invest in a specific industry, such as healthcare, technology, or energy. They may provide higher returns than other types of mutual funds, but they come with higher risks because they are concentrated in a single sector.
  • Specialty funds: These mutual funds invest in unconventional assets such as real estate, commodities, and alternative investments like hedge funds. They carry higher risks, but also offer higher returns.

When choosing a mutual fund, it’s important to consider your investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. In addition, you should also factor in the fees and expenses of the mutual fund, such as management fees, transaction fees, and other expenses. Understanding the different types of mutual funds can help you make a more informed investment decision that aligns with your financial goals.


In summary, the different types of mutual funds provide investors with various options to diversify their portfolio, manage risks, and achieve their financial goals. Understanding the characteristics and risks of each type of mutual fund is critical to making an informed investment decision. Remember to consider your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and other factors before investing in a mutual fund.

Characteristics of open-end mutual funds

Open-end mutual funds are investment funds that are continuously offered to the public for purchase and redemption. They are popular because they offer investors an easy way to diversify their portfolio and access a variety of asset classes. Below are the key characteristics of open-end mutual funds:

  • Liquidity: Investors can buy and sell shares of open-end mutual funds on any business day, and the price is based on the net asset value (NAV) of the fund at the end of that day.
  • No minimum investment: Open-end mutual funds have no minimum investment requirements, making them accessible to a wide range of investors.
  • Professional management: Open-end mutual funds are managed by professional investment managers who make decisions on which stocks, bonds, or other securities to buy or sell within the fund.
  • Diversification: Open-end mutual funds hold a portfolio of securities, which can help reduce investment risk by spreading the investment across multiple companies and industries. Some open-end mutual funds are specialized in a particular sector, such as healthcare or technology, while others invest in a broad range of assets.
  • Fund size: Open-end mutual funds can grow or shrink in size as investors buy or sell shares, without affecting the price of any individual share.

Investing in an open-end mutual fund can be an effective way for an individual to gain exposure to a variety of securities and receive professional management without extensive knowledge of the market. The liquidity, flexibility, and accessibility of open-end mutual funds have made them a popular investment vehicle for investors of all levels.

Characteristics of closed-end mutual funds

Unlike open-end mutual funds, closed-end mutual funds operate differently and have unique features. Below are some of the characteristics of closed-end mutual funds that every investor should know:

  • Fund Size: Closed-end mutual funds usually have a fixed number of shares that are issued during the initial public offering (IPO). This means that once the IPO is closed, the fund size will be fixed, and the shares will only be traded on the secondary market. The number of shares can increase through a rights offering, but this does not occur often.
  • Pricing Mechanism: The price of closed-end mutual funds is determined by the forces of supply and demand on the secondary market. This means that the price can be higher or lower than the net asset value (NAV) of the fund. In contrast, open-end mutual funds are priced based on the NAV.
  • Trading: Unlike open-end mutual funds, which can be redeemed at any time at the current NAV, closed-end mutual funds are traded on the stock exchange like any other stock. This means that investors can buy and sell closed-end mutual fund shares throughout the trading day. Additionally, closed-end mutual funds usually have higher trading volumes and tighter spreads than open-end mutual funds.

Furthermore, closed-end mutual funds also have a few disadvantages for investors. One disadvantage is the potential for high fees, including management fees, broker commissions, and transaction costs. Additionally, closed-end mutual funds may not always meet the expectations of investors, as they can sometimes trade at a discount or premium to their NAV.


To sum up, closed-end mutual funds have unique features and characteristics compared to open-end mutual funds. Investors who are interested in closed-end mutual funds should understand the pricing mechanism, trading, fund size, and potential disadvantages before investing their money.

Closed-End Mutual Funds Open-End Mutual Funds
Fixed number of shares Unlimited number of shares
Traded on stock exchange Redeemed with the fund at NAV
Priced by supply and demand Priced based on NAV
Potential for high fees Lower fees

Comparing closed-end mutual funds and open-end mutual funds can help investors identify the best investments for their portfolios.

Advantages of Open-End Mutual Funds

Open-end mutual funds, unlike closed-end mutual funds, have a unique advantage for investors. These funds offer many benefits that cater to the needs of investors.

  • Liquidity: Investors can purchase and redeem shares of an open-end mutual fund at any time. This means that investors have the flexibility to buy and sell at their convenience without impacting the fund’s performance. The fund has no minimum holding period, and the investor doesn’t have to wait to sell their shares.
  • Diversification: Open-end mutual funds pools money from multiple investors and invests in different securities to diversify the portfolio. By investing in different assets, the risk of loss is spread out, which helps to minimize the overall portfolio risk.
  • Professional Management: Open-end mutual funds are managed by professional fund managers, who have the experience and expertise to analyze market trends to make informed investment decisions. The fund managers continuously monitor the funds’ holdings and adjust the portfolio to maximize returns while minimizing risks.

Performance Reporting

Open-end mutual funds provide daily updates on their net asset value (NAV) and performance. Investors can use this information to track the fund’s performance and make informed investment decisions. The fund’s historical performance is also available, which can help an investor understand how the fund has performed over time.

Lower Investment Amounts

Open-end mutual funds generally have lower investment minimums than closed-end mutual funds. This makes them an attractive option for investors who want to invest in the market but don’t have a large sum of money to invest. With lower minimums, investors can diversify their portfolios better, which helps to reduce risk.


Open-end mutual funds typically charge a management fee, also known as the expense ratio. The expense ratio is the annual fee that the fund charges to cover expenses such as portfolio management, marketing, and administrative costs. However, the fees of open-end mutual funds are typically lower than those of closed-end mutual funds. This means that investors can enjoy superior returns with lower fees.

Fee Type Open-End Mutual Fund Closed-End Mutual Fund
Management Fee 1% 2%
Sales Charge 0% 5%
Redemption Fee 0% 2%

As shown in the table, open-end mutual funds have lower fees than closed-end mutual funds, making them a more affordable option.

Advantages of closed-end mutual funds

While there are several differences between open-end and closed-end mutual funds, it’s important to note that closed-end funds offer several advantages to investors. Here are the top five:

  • Trading at a discount or premium: Closed-end mutual funds often trade at a discount or premium to their net asset value (NAV). This means that the market price of the fund’s shares may be higher or lower than the actual value of the assets held in the fund. This can present opportunities for investors to buy shares of the fund below their true value, which could result in greater returns when the discount narrows or the shares appreciate.
  • Potential for higher yields: Closed-end funds often employ more complex investment strategies, such as leverage, derivatives, or concentrated holdings. While this can increase the risk of the fund, it can also lead to higher yields and potentially higher returns. In addition, closed-end funds can use their distributions (dividends or interest payments) to support their market price, which can result in more consistent income for investors.
  • Lower expense ratios: Closed-end funds typically have lower expense ratios than open-end funds, since they do not need to continuously issue and redeem shares. This can result in more of the fund’s returns going to shareholders, rather than being eaten up by management fees.
  • More stable portfolio management: Closed-end funds have a fixed number of shares outstanding, which means the portfolio manager does not need to continuously adjust holdings to accommodate new inflows or outflows of cash. This can allow for a more stable investment strategy and potentially better long-term performance.
  • Access to illiquid investments: Since closed-end funds do not need to accommodate daily redemptions, they can hold more illiquid investments, such as private equity, real estate, or infrastructure. These investments typically have higher potential returns than more liquid assets, but also come with greater risk. Closed-end funds can provide an opportunity for investors to access these asset classes without the need to invest directly or through a separate vehicle.

If you’re considering investing in mutual funds, it’s important to understand the differences between open-end and closed-end funds and to choose the type that best fits your investment goals and risk tolerance. For some investors, the advantages of closed-end funds may outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Risks of Open-End Mutual Funds

Open-end mutual funds are a popular investment option for many investors since they offer diversification, professional management, and liquidity. However, they are not without risks that investors should be aware of before investing. Below are some of the risks associated with open-end mutual funds:

  • Market risk: Like any other investment, open-end mutual funds are subject to market risk. The value of mutual funds varies with the ups and downs of the stock and bond markets. This means that if the market experiences a downturn, the value of your investment will fall.
  • Liquidity risk: While open-end mutual funds offer liquidity, they do have limitations. Investors can only redeem their shares at the net asset value (NAV) price once a day at the end of the trading day. This means that if an investor needs to sell their shares in the middle of the day, they might have to sell at a different price than the NAV.
  • Management risk: Open-end mutual funds are managed by professional fund managers who make investment decisions on behalf of the fund. This means that investors are entrusting their money to someone else who may make investment decisions that do not align with their objectives or are not successful.
  • Operational risk: Like any other financial institution, mutual fund companies are subject to operational risk. This can be caused by internal failures such as system errors or external events such as fraud or cyber attacks, which can impact the net asset value of the fund.
  • Fees and expenses: Open-end mutual funds charge fees and expenses, which can reduce the overall return of an investor’s portfolio. These fees include management fees, administrative and distribution expenses, and other fund-related expenses.
  • Tax implications: Open-end mutual funds can have tax implications depending on the type of fund and the investor’s tax situation. If the fund generates capital gains, the investor will be responsible for paying taxes on those gains. Additionally, if the investor sells their shares at a profit, they will be responsible for paying capital gains taxes.

The Bottom Line

Open-end mutual funds are a convenient way for investors to achieve diversification and professional management while still maintaining liquidity. However, investors should be aware of the risks involved, including market, liquidity, management, operational risks, fees and expenses, and tax implications that could impact the overall return of their investment portfolio. It is essential to do your own research, consult with a financial advisor, and understand the fund’s prospectus before investing in open-end mutual funds.

Risks of Closed-End Mutual Funds

While closed-end mutual funds offer unique advantages like trading at a discount to their net asset value and offering high yields, there are certain risks that investors must be aware of before investing in them. Below are some of the risks associated with closed-end mutual funds:

  • Market Risk: Like any other equity investment, closed-end mutual funds also carry market risk. The value of the fund’s portfolio can decrease, causing a decline in the fund’s net asset value and potentially a decline in share price.
  • Leverage Risk: Some closed-end mutual funds use leverage to enhance returns, which can amplify the market risk. This means that if the value of the fund’s portfolio decreases, the potential loss could be larger than the amount of investment.
  • Management Risk: The performance of the fund is highly dependent on the investment decisions made by the fund’s management team. Poor investment decisions or underperformance of the portfolio can lead to a lower net asset value and a decline in the share price.
  • Liquidity Risk: Closed-end mutual funds are less liquid compared to open-end mutual funds as they trade on stock exchanges and have a fixed number of shares. This can result in a wide bid-ask spread and a lack of buyers or sellers at a particular time, leading to higher transaction costs.
  • Discount Risk: Closed-end mutual funds can trade at a discount or premium to their net asset value, which can affect the returns of investors. If the fund trades at a discount, investors may be able to buy the fund’s shares at a lower price, but they may be unable to sell them for their true value.
  • Interest Rate Risk: Closed-end mutual funds that invest in fixed-income securities carry interest rate risk. If interest rates rise, the value of the fund’s portfolio may decrease, resulting in a lower net asset value and share price.
  • Distribution Risk: Closed-end mutual funds that offer high yields may carry distribution risk. The fund may have to dip into its capital gains or sell its assets to pay the dividend, which may lead to a lower net asset value and share price.

Hedge Funds vs. Closed-End Mutual Funds

While both hedge funds and closed-end mutual funds are considered alternative investments, they have significant differences in terms of their structure, regulation, and investment strategies.

Hedge Funds Closed-End Mutual Funds
Primarily for high-net-worth investors Open to all investors
Privately managed limited partnerships Publicly traded
Not regulated by the SEC Regulated by the SEC
Can use leverage and short-selling Can use leverage but cannot short-sell
Invest in a wide range of assets Invest in equities, fixed-income securities, and other assets

Investing in hedge funds requires a high degree of sophistication and risk tolerance, which may not be suitable for all investors. Closed-end mutual funds may offer similar investment opportunities with less complexity and greater transparency.

What is the difference between open and closed end mutual funds?

FAQ #1: What are open end mutual funds?
Open end mutual funds are mutual funds that investors can buy or sell shares at any time. The number of shares issued by the fund can increase or decrease based on demand.

FAQ #2: What are closed end mutual funds?
Closed end mutual funds are mutual funds that issue a fixed number of shares. Investors can only buy or sell shares in the secondary market, like stocks.

FAQ #3: How are prices determined for open end mutual funds?
The price of open end mutual funds is determined by the net asset value (NAV) of the fund. The NAV is the total value of all the assets in the fund, divided by the number of outstanding shares.

FAQ #4: How are prices determined for closed end mutual funds?
The price of closed end mutual funds is determined by supply and demand in the secondary market. The price may trade at a premium or discount to the NAV of the fund.

FAQ #5: Which type of mutual fund has higher liquidity?
Open end mutual funds have higher liquidity because investors can buy or sell shares at any time, directly with the fund.

FAQ #6: Which type of mutual fund is more suitable for long-term investment?
Closed end mutual funds may be more suitable for long-term investment because they often have lower expense ratios and may trade at a discount to their NAV.


There you have it, a simple breakdown of the difference between open and closed end mutual funds. Whether you’re looking for more liquidity or a long-term investment, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fund. Thanks for taking the time to read, and don’t forget to come back for more financial tips and tricks.