What is a Mutual Fund?
The term Mutual Fund refers to a pool of money accumulated by several investors who aim at saving and making money through their investment. The corpus of money so created is invested in various asset classes, viz. debt funds, liquid assets and the like. Just like gains and rewards earned over the period of investment, losses are also shared by all the investors in equal proportion, i.e. in accordance with their proportion of contribution to the corpus.
Mutual Funds are registered with SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) that regulates security markets prior to the collection of the funds from the investors. Investing in a Mutual Fund can be as simple buying or selling stocks or bonds online. Moreover, investors can sell out their shares whenever they want or need.
Types of Mutual Funds in India
There is a wide range of mutual funds in India, which is categorized on the basis of investment objective, asset class, and structure.
Mutual Funds Based on Asset Class
1. Equity Funds
These funds are invested in equity stock or shares of the companies. They provide a higher result, that’s the reason they are considered as high-risk funds.
2. Debt Funds
These funds are invested in the debt like government bonds, company debentures, and fixed income assets. As they provide fixed returns, they are known to be a safe investment instrument.
3. Money Market Funds
These funds are invested in liquid instruments, such as CPs, T-Bills etc. They are considered quite safe investment option, as you get an immediate yet moderate return on your investment. They are a perfect option for investors who want to invest their abundant funds.
4. Hybrid or Balanced Funds
These types of funds are invested in different asset classes. There are times when the proportion of debt is lower than equity; it could be another way around as well. In this manner, return(s) and risk(s) strikes a perfect balance.
5. Sector Funds
In these funds, investment is made in a particular sector or division of the market. For instance, infrastructure fund investors make investments restricted to infrastructure companies or investment instruments offered by the infrastructure companies. Returns on an investment are directly proportionate to the performance of that particular sector. The risk factor associated with these schemes varies sector to sector.
6. Index Funds
These funds are investment instruments that represent specific index on the exchange in order to monitor the returns and the movement of the index, viz. purchasing shares from the BSE Sensex.
7. Tax-Saving Funds
These funds make investment majorly in the equity shares. Tax-saving funds make an investor eligible to claim tax deductions under the Income Tax Act. Risk factor involved in these funds is generally on the higher side. At the same time, higher returns are offered if the funds’ performance is at par.
8. Funds of Funds
These funds invest in the other mutual funds and the returns are dependent on the overall performance of the target funds.
Mutual Funds Based on Structure
1. Open-Ended Funds
These mutual fund investment instruments deal with units that are purchased or redeemed throughout the year. Such purchases or redemptions are done at persisting Net Asset Value (NAV). These funds offer liquidity to the investors, so they are preferred by the investors.
2. Close-Ended Funds
These mutual funds investment instruments deal with units that can be purchased during initial period only. The units are eligible for the redemption on a specific maturity date. In order to provide liquidity, these schemes are listed on the stock exchange for trading purposes.
Mutual Funds Based on Investment Objective
1. Growth Funds
These schemes let investors invest their money majorly in equity stocks. The objective behind this is that it provides capital appreciation. Though these funds are considered to be risky, they are considered ideal for investors having an investment timeline that’s long-term.
2. Income Funds
These schemes let you invest your money majorly in fixed-income instruments, such as debentures, bonds etc. They serve the purpose of providing regular income and capital protection to the investors.
3. Liquid Funds
The money invested in liquid funds is invested majorly in short-term and at times, very short-term investment instruments like CPs, T-Bills etc. with the sole purpose of providing liquidity. These schemes are low on the risk factor and they provide moderate returns on investment. These schemes are ideal for investors having short-term investment timelines.
Mutual Fund Investment Objectives
There are various kinds of a mutual fund with a specific goal set. Mutual fund investment objectives are the goals set by the fund manager for the mutual fund investment while making a crucial decision - which bonds and funds should be included in the funds’ portfolio.
For instance, Mr. Gupta plans to invest in the equity market to accomplish his investment objective, i.e. to get long-term capital appreciation while meeting his long-term financial targets like child’s overseas education and his own retirement.
Depending majorly on the objective of the investment, mutual funds are classified in 5 categories. The following are these categories:
1. Aggressive Growth Funds
Aggressive growth fundshave the higher chances of sudden growth and their value rises up at a fast speed.Investors invest in aggressive growth funds with the objective of fetching higher returns. Since the funds witness a sudden growth, the risk factor involved is extremely high. It is because funds with sudden price appreciation potential end up losing their value at a high speed at the time of downfall in the economy.
Investing in these funds is an ideal option for the investors who are willing to invest their money for a time period of five years and their investment objective revolves around a long-term perspective.
The investors who can’t afford to have the potential to lose the value of their investment and whose investment objective is to conserve capital are recommended to not to buy aggressive growth funds.
2. Growth Funds
In aggressive growth investment, the growth fetches higher returns on investment. The investment portfolio will comprise a blend of small, medium and large sized corporations. The fund portfolio would include that in order to make an investment in a well-established and stable corporation. In addition to that, the fund manager would invest a small proportion of funds in a freshly set up small scale company.
The fund manager would select growth stock, which will make use of the growth to make profits instead of paying the dividends. Holding onto growth funds most of the times proves to be profitable for the investor(s).
3. Balanced Funds
It is the fusion of the income and growth funds, which is known as balanced funds. These funds have a mixture of goals to accomplish. The goal is to aim at providing the investors with the present income and at the same time, it offers the possibility of growth. These funds aim to accomplish various objectives that investors look forward to.
Balanced funds’ stability ranges from low to moderate but its potential for growth and current income is moderate.
4. Income Funds
The funds that normally make an investment in a range of fixed income securities are known as income funds. These funds ensure regular income for the investor(s). These funds are ideal for the investors who are retired, as they will have a regular supply of dividends. The fund manager will invest in company fixed deposits; debentures etc. and that will provide a regular income to the investors. It is a stable investment option yet it has moderate risk factor involved. With the fluctuations in the rate of interest, the prices of income share funds, bonds will be affected accordingly. Also, the rate of inflation takes a toll on the income funds.
5. Money Market Mutual Funds
These funds strive on the maintenance of capital prevention. That’s the reason why the investors investing in these funds should be extremely cautious. Though money market mutual funds have the potential of yielding a higher rate of interest as compared to the bank deposits’ rate of interest, profits are not there. Also, the risk factor involved is very low.
Due to higher liquidity, the investors are able to alter and mold their investment strategy.
If you invest only and only in one mutual fund investment instrument, by default the risk factor becomes higher. If you invest your capital in different mutual fund investment instruments, then you end up stabilizing the risk involved. If one fund is not yielding great returns, you will be protected by the other investment instruments.
Start With Your Financial Needs
Investment needs vary person to person, as the investment objectives vary person to person. Factors like financial goals, risk threshold, time period and capital affect the investment decisions.
Even before you select your mutual fund investment instrument, analyze your fiscal goals and decide your time frame and risk threshold accordingly. On the basis of that, zero down the investment options that are in sync with them.
Mutual Funds Benefits
As an investor, you have a plenty of mutual fund instruments to choose from. It is quite a task to select an investment instrument that gives you the benefit of every mutual fund vehicle in one option. That’s a good enough reason to widen the umbrella of mutual fund vehicles to reap the benefits offered by mutual funds.
Apart from providing the flexibility to formulate investment plans based on the individual investment goals, mutual funds are beneficial in the terms of professional management, diversification, and affordability.
How Beneficial is investing in a Mutual Fund?
Investors’ basic expectation from investing in mutual funds is to reap maximum returns on their investment(s). As an investor, you would also expect this. At times, you don’t have sufficient time to do your research and monitor the stock market thoroughly. A lot of time in hand, knowledge of the stock market and lots of patience is a pre-requisite for trading in the stock business. Opportunities don’t knock at your door; you have to grab them using both of your hands.
To be able to take risks increase your chances of getting maximum returns. It is next to impossible that every chance you take turns out rewarding for you. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. When you don’t, analyze what went wrong and learn from your mistakes. Before buying, use the mutual fund calculator to get quotes regarding your investment, returns, risks etc.
The following are the benefits offered by the mutual funds:
1. Professional Management
Mutual fund professionals manage your hard-earned money with their skills and experience. They have a qualified research team that assists them by analyzing the performance and potential of various corporations. In addition to that, they find suitable investment offers for their clients. Fund managers are qualified to manage your funds in such a manner that they yield higher returns on investment(s).
Professional management is a continuous process and it takes much time to add value to your investment(s).
Diversification makes your investment an intelligent investment. It minimizes the risk by investing your money in different mutual fund investment vehicles. Obviously, chances are very slim that all the stocks will decline simultaneously.
Sector funds let your investment spread across a solo industry so that there is less diversification.
3. More Choices
The biggest advantage of investing in a mutual fund is that it offers a wide range of schemes that match with your long-term expectations. Whenever a new phase begins in your life, you just need to have a discussion with your financial advisor(s) and work on your portfolio to suit your present situation.
At times, your investment goal or your capital doesn’t let you invest in the shares of a big company. Generally, mutual funds deal with buying and selling of securities in a large amount that allows investors to get the advantage for a low trading course. Thanks to the minimum fund requirement, even the smallest investor can give mutual funds a shot.
5. Tax Deductions
You get tax benefits if you invest for a period of one year or more in capital gains. Mutual fund investments also make you eligible for the benefits of the tax deduction.
Open-end funds make you eligible to redeem total or partial investment anytime you want to, and you can receive the present value for your shares. Funds give you more liquidity as compared most of the investments in the shares, bonds, and deposits. This follows a standardized process and it makes the process efficient and smooth. Because of that, you get your money as soon as possible.
7. Averaging Rupee-Cost
Irrespective of the investments’ unit price, you make an investment in a particular rupee amount at frequent intervals with averaging rupee-cost. Resulting, you are able to buy more units when the prices are less; fewer units when the prices are high. Averaging rupee-cost enables you to maintain your investment discipline by frequent investments. It also prevents you from making any unpredictable investment.
8. Ensures Transparency
Various esteemed publications and rating agencies review the performance of mutual funds, which makes it easier for investors to compare one fund to another. It is beneficial for you as a shareholder, as it provides you with latest updates, including funds’ holdings, managers’ strategy etc.
As per the regulations by The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), all the mutual fund corporations are required to register with SEBI, as they are obliged to adhere to the strict regulations formulated to safeguard investors. The overall trading operations are monitored by the SEBI on a regular basis.
Investment Approach in Equities
Investment in equities is no rocket science. All you need to do is to follow the investment approach given below. It runs through the sector and diversified equity funds.
1. Bottom-Up Approach
The bottom-up approach is ideal when your goal is to invest in the best corporations, irrespective of the domain. When the fund managers are sure about the corporations’ potential and their prospects, they give you a green signal. On an average, top 5-10 corporations are there in a portfolio account of the overall total fund assets. It is recommended to keep an eye on sector exposure in individual stock exposure and diversified funds to assure that the exposure does not incline way too much towards one particular stock or sector.
2. Fundamental Investors Approach
For a fundamental investor, in-house literature or research cements the foundation of the investment decision-making power. The research does not revolve around financial numbers only; it goes above and beyond published literature or reports. The fund managers accompanied by research analysts meet employees of their company to get a better perspective and explore unobvious data that can turn out to be a golden opportunity over a period of time.
3. Quality First Approach
When you focus on the quality, you are on the right path. There are times when the quality of fiscals is ignored. Later, that turns out to be a disaster. Shift your entire focus on the quality, as it will help you to avoid losses. The quality first approach allows your funds to perform well.
4. Long-Term Investment Approach
As an investor, being patient works in your favor and it makes you immune from market unpredictability. Analyze the value of funds, and then make investment decisions accordingly. It leaves no room for negative decisions. Long-term investors use the unpredictable times to their advantage because sooner or later, share market will realize the potential of the funds and the stock will make its come back.
5. Deliberate and Methodical Approach
This investment approach lays emphasis on the emerging themes and doesn’t pay much attention to the so-called tips and tricks.
6. What’s Trending Approach
Look out for what’s trending, as it can be rewarding in the long run. It is of utmost importance to understand the present financial situation as well as the future financial potential of the companies so that in future, you can make best investment decisions in coordination with the changing times.
The best approach to investing in debt is by focusing on fetching returns consistently and at the same time, neutralizing risk threats. It is a sure-fire way to give returns in the form of a fixed income.
While investing in debt, keep the following point in your mind:
1. Safety First
Don’t get carried away and give safety the utmost importance. When it comes to back off short-terms gains, don’t shy away and be firm about your decisions.
2. Risk Management
Carefully analyze ratings, value, integrity, effectiveness, efficiency, management, finances etc. of the company; it will help you to reduce the risk factor. The lesser risk is better for your investment.
3. Interest Rate Risk Management
Focus on managing interest-rate risk with the help of the portfolio at the intermediate level and refrain from timing the market rate of interest.
4. Prudent Balance Maintenance
Work on maintaining a prudent balance among corporate bonds and government securities. Along with that, don’t forget to diversify strict limits on single corporation exposure(s).
5. Rely on Research
Take advantage of strong equity research in order to identify the strong debt issuing companies and explore unexplored domains. It will unveil the best mutual funds plan for you.
6. Liquidity Norms
Maintain rigorous liquidity norms to make sure that your portfolio can be liquefied whenever you want to make redemptions.
What is ELSS?
ELSS is popularly known as Equity Linked Savings Scheme. It is a type of diversified equity mutual fund scheme. Investing in ELSS mutual funds gives you the double benefit of tax deduction and capital appreciation. Section 80C of the Income Tax Act makes you eligible for tax exemption. By default, Equity Linked Savings Scheme has a lock-in period of three years.
Why Should You Invest in ELSS?
When planned efficiently, investing in Equity Linked Savings Scheme helps you to save your money. Generally, tax saving investment vehicle comes with a lock-in period of 3-15 years. ELSS comes with the minimum lock-in period of three years. As compared to other tax-saving instruments, the period of three years is lesser. The icing on the cake is that capital gains from ELSS funds are tax-free. No tax is levied on the interest, principal amount or the maturity amount.
When it comes to withdrawals, it is also free since the hold period for such funds is more than 12 months. It means no levying of taxes on capital gains. As per your preference, you can select from the following plans:
- Growth Plan
- Dividend Plan
- Dividend Reinvestment Plan
The growth plan is an investment plan that allows your investment to grow until you take it out. If your fund’s Net Asset Value (NAV) has increased, the dividend plan allows your fund to give an amount back to you. Last but not the least; the dividend reinvestment plan lets your dividend payout to be re-invested in some additional units of the plan.
How to Make a Fund Selection?
Plenty of mutual fund instruments are available to you. But, before you dive deep the ocean of mutual funds, it will be great if you mix and match your bond, stock and money market funds according to your preference. Experts recommend that this is the best investment decision any investor can take. Don’t forget to compare mutual funds before buying.
As an investor, the following are points that you should keep in mind while formulating your investment strategy:
1. Diversification is the key
It is best to divide your investment between mutual funds that deal in a wide variety of stocks, money market securities, and bonds. Every instrument brings pros and cons to the table. Diversifying in the same domain of securities is ideal. Over a long period of time, it proves to be beneficial. If one sector is not doing well, still diversification would allow your funds to yield the best results.
2. Keep Inflation In Mind
The money you invested today would be used later. Over the time, inflation spreads its wings and it starts flying high. So, you need to consider the after effects. Money market funds have gained popularity, as they maintain the value, but the returns can be very low.
3. Patience Please
The value of shares fall and rise unpredictably. What is rising today can fall tomorrow, so be mentally prepared to face fluctuations. In case you don’t require money right now, don’t panic if your funds fall short of its value. Rise and fall are parts of the sweet-bitter reality of the stock market.
If a fund is underperforming, it can do really well too. So, be patient and let your funds recover.
4. Consider Your Age
Younger investors invest plenty of time in stock funds. Why? It’s because they have a lot of time in their hands. Their investment in stock funds let them fetch return over a long period of time.
On the contrary, people who are supposed to be retiring soon look forward to safeguarding their money from any drops in prices. In order to maintain the value, it is ideal for that age group to make an investment in the money market fund or bonds.
5. Determine Age Appropriate Investment Mix
Subtract your age from 100, the remainder/ answer could be a good option to start an investment with. It will help you to decide the share of your total funds to invest into mutual fund stocks.
6. Risk Threshold
While selecting mutual funds, ensure that you keep in mind how much your risk threshold is. Don’t go out of your comfort zone. Another thing to keep in mind is your retirement, closer you are to your retirement. If it will be upon you soon, then you should neutralize the risk factor.
To get maximum mutual fund benefits, younger investors having the time on their hands can afford to explore aggressive investment strategies.
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