Total expense ratio is the total cost of investment to the investor who invests in a mutual fund, equity fund, or an exchangetraded fund; which includes, but is not limited to, the auditing costs of investment, the transactional costs of investment, legal fees, management fees, auditor fees, and many other miscellaneous operational expenses, which help the investor in determining the final return they are going to get on the investment.
Total Expense Ratio Formula
No, it’s not enough to know the return on the investments; it’s also important to know the total expense ratio. The total expense ratio (TER) formula is used for investment funds. The TER formula is very useful for investors because it shows them how much they have earned.
Here’s the TER Formula –
Total Expense Ratio = Total Fund Costs/Total Fund Assets
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Source: Total Expense Ratio Formula  TER Calculator (with Excel Template) (wallstreetmojo.com)
Key Takeaways
 . The total expense ratio is the cost of investing in a fund, including fees and operational expenses. It helps investors calculate their final return.
 The main reason the total expense ratio is essential to investors is that it directly affects the returns on their investments. The actual expense ratio formula increases when a fund is actively managed due to rising operational expenses.
 The total expense ratio is lesser if the fund is not actively managed. And return may also dry up. However, there are always exceptions.
Example of TER Formula
Let’s take a simple example to illustrate the TER formula.
Binary Investments have been managing a new fund. It has the following information regarding its new fund –
 Total fund costs – $40,000
 Total fund assets – $410,00,000
Find out the TER of this new fund.
We know both the total fund costs and the total fund assets.
By using the TER formula, we get –
 TER = Total Fund Costs / Total Fund Assets
 Or, TER = $40,000 / $410,000,000 = 9.76%.
The investors need to see the Total Expense Ratio of this new fund and then compare the same with other investments to see whether this is a worthy investment for the investors or not.
Total Expense Ratio Formula Video Explanation
Total Expense Ratio Example – Vanguard
As we can see from the below table, the TER of Vanguard funds range from 0.11% to 0.16%
source: vanguard.com
The Federal Money Market Fund has an expense ratio of 0.11%, whereas the California Municipal Money Market Fund has an expense ratio of 0.16%.
Explanation of TER Formula
Understanding TER is important. It has two components.
 The first component is the total fund costs. Total fund costs mainly include management fees. Total fund costs also include legal fees, trading fees, operation expenses, and auditing fees.
 The second component of the TER is the total fund assets. In the case of any investment funds, a group of people manages the funds. And these funds are the assets of individuals who have invested in the instrument (e.g., mutual fundsMutual FundsA mutual fund is a professionally managed investment product in which a pool of money from a group of investors is invested across assets such as equities, bonds, etcread more). These funds are called fund assets. In simple terms, fund assets are the market value of the funds managed by a fund manager or a management team.
When we compare the fund expenses and the fund assets, we get a proportion of expenses in terms of assets. This TER can be used to find out how many expenses happen.
Use of TER Formula
The main reason for which TER is important to investors is that TER directly affects the returns on their investments.
For example, let’s say that Mr. Rout has invested in a portfolio. He is expecting a return of 10% on his investments. Now, if he can find out the TER, he will get to figure out the actual return on his investments. Let’s say that the TER is 4%; then, the net return would be 6%, even if it seems that he is getting a return of 10% on his investments.
TER formula is more when the fund is actively managed; when the fund is actively managed, the operational expenses of the fund increase. For example, if a fund is actively handled, the personnel costs will likely go up. Actively managing a fund may also ensure a higher return and a quick reaction time.
On the other hand, the TER is lesser if the fund is not actively managed. And return may also dry up. However, there are always exceptions.
TER Calculator
You can use the following TER Calculator.
Total Fund Costs  
Total Fund Assets  
Total Expense Ratio Formula  
Total Expense Ratio Formula = 


TER Formula in Excel (with excel template)
Let us now do the same example of the TER formula in Excel.
It is very simple. You need to provide the two inputs of Total Fund Costs and Total Fund Assets.
You can easily calculate the ratio in the template provided.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Total Expense Ratio (TER) measures the costs of managing and operating an investment fund, like a mutual fund. These costs include management fees and other expenses, such as trading, legal, auditor, and operational expenses.
As an investor, it is ideal to aim for an expense ratio between 0.5% and 0.75% for an actively managed portfolio. Anything above 1.5% is considered to be high.
The figure indicates the annual percentage charge of a fund. Any performance fees the fund may have will also be included in the total expense ratio.
Yes, the Total Expense Ratio can vary significantly between different funds. Actively managed funds, which involve more active buying and selling of securities, tend to have higher TERs than passively managed funds, such as index funds or ETFs. Additionally, the size and complexity of the fund and the investment strategy can also influence the TER.
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