As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, there was no evidence to suggest that the National Pension System (NPS) was losing its sheen. However, like any investment option, the returns on NPS are subject to market conditions and may fluctuate over time. In comparison, the returns on Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and Public Provident Fund (PPF) are fixed and guaranteed by the government, making them a more stable option. It’s important to consider your financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon before choosing between NPS, EPF, or PPF. It’s also advisable to consult with a financial advisor to determine the best investment strategy for your individual needs.

Understanding the National Pension System (NPS)

The National Pension System (NPS) is a voluntary, defined-contribution retirement savings scheme initiated by the Government of India. The scheme aims to provide pension benefits to all Indian citizens, including the unorganized sector, to create a sustainable retirement income stream. Under the NPS, individuals can contribute towards their retirement savings, which are then invested by professional fund managers in a range of asset classes such as equity, debt, and government securities. Upon retirement, individuals receive a lump-sum amount and a monthly pension based on the accumulated corpus. The NPS is regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

Factors influencing NPS returns

There are several factors that can influence the returns on the National Pension System (NPS), including:

  • Asset allocation: The allocation of assets in the NPS portfolio can have a significant impact on returns. A balanced allocation between equity and debt can offer higher returns while managing risks effectively.
  • Market conditions: The returns on NPS are subject to market volatility, and changes in economic and political conditions can impact returns.
  • Fund management: The performance of the fund manager managing the NPS portfolio can impact the returns generated.
  • Investment tenure: The investment tenure also plays a crucial role in determining NPS returns. Longer investment periods typically generate higher returns.
  • Charges and fees: The charges and fees levied by the NPS provider can impact the net returns received by the investor.

Comparing NPS, EPF, and PPF as investment options

It’s important to understand these factors and their impact on NPS returns before making investment decisions.
Here’s a brief comparison of the National Pension System (NPS), Employee Provident Fund (EPF), and Public Provident Fund (PPF) as investment options:

  1. NPS: NPS offers higher returns compared to EPF and PPF. However, the returns are market-linked and subject to market volatility. NPS also allows individuals to withdraw up to 60% of their accumulated corpus as a lump sum upon retirement.
  2. EPF: EPF is a government-backed savings scheme with guaranteed returns. The interest rate on EPF is reviewed and declared by the government every year. The contribution made to EPF is also tax-deductible.
  3. PPF: PPF is another government-backed savings scheme with a fixed interest rate. The current rate is 7.1% per annum. PPF also offers tax benefits on contributions and maturity proceeds.

Pros and cons of each investment option

Here are the pros and cons of each investment option:

National Pension System (NPS):


  • Higher returns: NPS offers potentially higher returns than other fixed income investments due to its exposure to equity markets.
  • Tax benefits: NPS offers tax benefits at the time of investment, up to a certain limit, and also allows for partial tax exemption at the time of withdrawal.
  • Flexible: NPS allows investors to choose their own asset allocation and investment strategy.
  • Retirement-focused: NPS is a retirement-focused investment option that can help build a sustainable income stream.


  • Market risk: NPS returns are subject to market risks and fluctuations.
  • Restricted liquidity: Withdrawals from NPS are subject to strict regulations and penalties.
  • Limited choice of investment options: NPS only allows investment in select asset classes, which can limit diversification opportunities.

Employee Provident Fund (EPF):


  • Guaranteed returns: EPF provides guaranteed returns, which can be beneficial for risk-averse investors.
  • Tax benefits: EPF contributions are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C.
  • Employer contributions: EPF is typically offered as an employee benefit, with employers also contributing towards the employee’s EPF account.


  • Limited investment options: EPF only invests in debt instruments, which can limit diversification opportunities.
  • Withdrawal restrictions: Withdrawals from EPF are subject to strict regulations and penalties.
  • Low returns: The interest rate on EPF is typically lower than returns offered by other long-term investments.

Public Provident Fund (PPF):


  • Guaranteed returns: PPF provides guaranteed returns with the current rate being 7.1% per annum.
  • Tax benefits: PPF contributions and maturity proceeds are eligible for tax deductions.
  • Long-term investment: PPF has a long lock-in period of 15 years, making it suitable for

long-term goals.


  • Low liquidity: PPF has a long lock-in period, and withdrawals are subject to penalties and restrictions.
  • Low investment limit: The maximum investment limit for PPF is Rs. 1.5 lakh per year.
  • Limited investment options: PPF only invests in debt instruments, which can limit diversification opportunities.

Consult with a financial advisor before making investment decisions

Consulting with a financial advisor can be a wise decision before making any investment decisions. Financial advisors are professionals who can provide guidance and advice on a range of financial matters, including investments, retirement planning, tax planning, and more.
Here are some reasons why consulting with a financial advisor can be beneficial:

  • Expertise and knowledge: Financial advisors have expertise and knowledge in various areas of finance, and they can help you navigate complex financial situations and make informed decisions.
  • Customized advice: A financial advisor can provide customized advice based on your individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and personal circumstances.
  • Investment diversification: A financial advisor can help you diversify your investment portfolio across various asset classes and minimize your risk exposure.
  • Tax planning: Financial advisors can provide guidance on tax planning strategies that can help you minimize your tax liability.
  • Retirement planning: A financial advisor can help you develop a retirement plan that aligns with your financial goals and ensures you have enough income during retirement.
  • Regular monitoring: A financial advisor can monitor your investments and provide regular updates to help you stay on track with your financial goals.

It’s important to find a financial advisor who is trustworthy, experienced, and has a track record of helping clients achieve their financial goals.

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