Mutual fund can either be a open-ended or close-ended.
An open-ended scheme allows the investor to enter and exit at his convenience, anytime (except under certain conditions) whereas a close-ended scheme restricts the freedom of entry and exit.
Whenever a new fund is launched by an AMC, it is known as New Fund Offer (NFO). Units are offered to investors at the par value of Rs. 10/ unit. In case of open-ended schemes, investors can buy the units even after the NFO period is over. Thus, when the fund sells units, the investor buys the units from the fund and when the investor wishes to redeem the units, the fund repurchases the units from the investor. This can be done even after the NFO has closed. The buy/sell of units takes place at the Net Asset Value (NAV) declared by the fund. The freedom to invest after the NFO period is over is not there in close-ended schemes. Investors have to invest only during the NFO period; i.e. as long as the NFO is on or the scheme is open for subscription.
Once the NFO closes, new investors cannot enter, nor can existing investors exit, till the term of the scheme comes to an end. However, in order to provide entry and exit option, close-ended mutual funds list their schemes on stock exchanges. This provides an opportunity for investors to buy and sell the units from each other. This is just like buying/selling shares on the stock exchange. This is done through a stockbroker. The outstanding units of the fund does not increase in this case since the fund is itself not selling any units. Sometimes, close-ended funds also offer ‘buy-back of fund shares / units”, thus offering another avenue for investors to exit the fund. Therefore, regulations drafted in India permit investors in close-ended funds to exit even before the term is over.