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Total Expense Ratio (TER)


The Total Expense Ratio (TER) is a financial metric expressing the total costs an investment fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) charges against its assets each year as a percentage. It includes the fund’s operational costs, such as management fees, administrative fees, operating costs, and all other asset-based costs incurred by the fund. It’s important for investors because a lower ratio signifies fewer costs and potentially increased return on investment.


Total Expense Ratio (TER) can be phonetically transcribed as: “toʊtl ɪkˈspɛns ˈreɪʃioʊ ( t-e-r )”

Key Takeaways

<ol><li><p>Total Expense Ratio (TER) is a measure of the total costs associated with managing and operating an investment fund, such as a mutual fund. These costs can include administration fees, management fees, and operating costs.</p></li><li><p>TER is often used by investors when comparing the cost efficiency of different funds. A lower TER generally indicates a more cost-efficient fund, while a higher TER suggests that a significant portion of the fund’s returns may be consumed by its expenses.</p></li><li><p>Despite its importance, investors should not use TER as their only criterion when choosing a fund. It’s also important to consider other factors such as the fund’s past performance, its investment strategy and objectives, and the reputation and track record of its management team.</p></li></ol>


The Total Expense Ratio (TER) is a crucial term in business/finance, as it provides a clear measure of the total costs associated with managing and operating an investment fund, such as a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund. These costs may include management fees, administrative costs, operating expenses, and other various costs. TER is significant because it impacts the overall returns that investors receive from the fund. A higher TER means higher expenses, which can detract from the fund’s returns. Therefore, investors often use the TER to compare the cost-efficiency of different funds before making investment decisions. It is expressed as a percentage and the lower the TER, the better it often is for the investor.


Total Expense Ratio (TER) is an important financial term, particularly within the context of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. It serves a crucial purpose as it provides investors an understanding of the actual costs associated with investing in a particular fund. Essentially, the aim of the TER is to measure the total costs associated with managing and operating a fund such as management fees, administrative fees, operating costs, and other asset-based costs incurred by the fund. It does not include transaction costs. The ratio is expressed as a percentage of the fund’s total assets.TER is an incredibly useful tool for investors when comparing the cost efficiencies of different funds. Usually, a lower TER is better for fund investors because high expenses can significantly decrease returns over time. Therefore, it can be especially useful for long-term investors where these costs can accrue significantly. However, TER should not be the only factor considered when choosing a fund. The fund’s performance and investment strategy must equally be considered. Despite that, understanding TER gives an investor a clearer picture of the potential net returns of a fund.


1. Mutual Fund: Let’s say ABC has a mutual fund with an average net asset value (NAV) of $500 million for the year. The total operating expenses for the year, including management fees, transaction fees, legal fees etc., comes to $5 million. The total expense ratio for the fund, which is the total cost to run the fund divided by its total net asset value, is 1%. This means for every dollar invested, one cent goes towards covering the fund’s operating costs.2. Exchange-Traded Fund: Given an ETF managed by XYZ Corp. whose NAV for a year averages out to $200 million. The ETF’s operating expenses, which include costs like auditing, management fee, etc, are around $1 million. So, the total expense ratio of this ETF would be 0.5% ($1 million / $200 million). Therefore, an investor in the ETF would pay 50 cents in expenses for every $100 invested annually.3. Pension Funds: Suppose a pension fund managed by a company has an average net asset value of $10 billion for a specific year. The expenses incurred that year, including management fees, custodial services, legal expenses, and other operational costs, total up to $50 million. The total expense ratio here would be 0.5% ($50 million / $10 billion). This means ethe pension fund holders would pay 50 cents for every $100 invested in the fund for that year.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Total Expense Ratio (TER)?

Total Expense Ratio (TER) is a measure of the total costs associated with managing and operating an investment fund, such as a mutual fund. These costs consist primarily of management fees and additional expenses, such as trading fees, legal fees, auditor fees, and other operational expenses. The ratio is calculated by dividing the total annual fund operating expenses by the fund’s average net assets.

How is TER calculated?

TER is calculated by dividing the total cost of the fund by the fund’s total net assets and expressing the result as a percentage. This allows investors to compare costs among various funds.

How does TER affect my investment?

TER affects your investment returns as it is deducted from the fund’s assets, reducing the return you get on your investments. The lower the TER, the higher the potential gains.

Is a lower TER always better?

Generally speaking, a lower TER is preferable as it means fewer expenses are being deducted from your return. However, it should not be the only factor considered when choosing a fund. The fund’s objectives, investment strategies, and past performance should also be taken into account.

Is TER the only expense I should consider when investing in a fund?

No, TER does not include transaction costs such as brokerage fees, which could also impact your final returns. Make sure to consider all costs and charges before making an investment decision.

Are all funds required to disclose their TER?

Yes, regulation requires all mutual funds and ETFs to disclose their TER to potential investors, making it easier for individuals to compare costs across different funds.

Does TER apply to all types of funds?

While TER is most commonly used in relation to mutual funds and ETFs, it is also relevant for other types of pooled investment products. It provides a measure of the ongoing costs in relation to the size of the investment.

How often should I check the TER of my fund?

It’s advisable to check the TER of your fund annually. This is due to the fact that the expenses of a fund can increase or decrease, which can affect your investment returns.

Related Finance Terms

  • Expense Ratio
  • Mutual Fund Expenses
  • Portfolio Transaction Costs
  • Management Fees
  • Operational Costs

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