There are two types of investment plans available in India for investment with Mutual Funds as mentioned below:
Regular Plan in Mutual Fund
If you buy a Mutual Fund through an intermediary like a mutual fund advisor, distributor or broker then it is called "Regular Plan" . In this, the mutual fund company pays commission to the intermediary for his services. This amount of commission is then deducted as an expense from the plan. Therefore, the expense ratio is higher under Regular PlanRegular Plan as compared with Direct Plan.
Direct Plan in Mutual Fund
If you buy directly from the Mutual Fund without any involvement of any intermediary, it is called "Direct Plan". The savings on intermediary's commission are passed on to investors in the form of lower expense ratio.
The NAV of both the plans is calculated separately and therefore differs.
In September 2012, the regulator of Mutual Funds, SEBI, made many reforms in Mutual Fund Industry and launching Direct Plans was one of them. After that each Mutual Fund Company launched Direct plans along allowing investors to invest directly with the Mutual Fund with lesser expense ratio.
As you get higher returns on direct plans due to lesser expense ratio, hence the direct plans are better for Mutual Fund investments. The difference in expense ratios usually remains between 0.50% to 0.75% in regular and direct plans. It looks very small though, but it matters a lot over the period of few years, if one remains invested. It makes this huge gap due to the compounding factor in the long run.
It is to note that a scheme's portfolio will be the same for both plans i.e. Regular plan as well as Direct Plan. Also, the other features of the scheme like Investment Objective, Investment Strategy, Asset Allocation, Risk factors, Load Structure, etc. remain same in both the plans.