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A Glimpse of the Future: India’s Potential in Passive Investing


Fifty years ago, there were no index funds; all assets were managed actively. The subsequent shift of assets from active to passive management in U.S. and European markets may count as one of the most important developments in modern financial history. Our intent in this paper is to explore how and why this transformation took place in the U.S., why a similar transformation is beginning in India, and how India can look to the U.S. as an example of passive investing’s future growth potential.

The rise of passive management in the U.S. and Europe was the consequence of active performance shortfalls.2 In India, we observe the same shortfalls coupled with unique local factors, which can be attributed to three sources: cost, increased regulatory oversight and government initiatives, and the skewness of stock returns.

At the end of March 2018, the size of the Indian mutual fund industry was INR 21.36 trillion (approximately USD 300 billion), of which about 3.8% of assets were managed passively (see Exhibit 1).3 At this passive AUM share, a 100 bps cost differential (between active and passive) results in annual savings of INR 8 billion (approximately USD 115 million) for Indian investors and asset owners.

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