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Mutual Funds

What is Mutual Fund ?

A Mutual Fund is a trust that pools together the savings of a number of investors who share a common financial goal. The fund manager invests this pool of money in securities -- ranging from shares and debentures to money market instruments or in a mixture of equity and debt, depending upon the objectives of the scheme.

Why choose Mutual Funds ?

Investing in Mutual Funds offers several benefits:
  • Professional expertise: Fund managers are professionals who track the market on an on-going basis. With their mix of professional qualification and market knowledge, they are better placed than the average investor to understand the markets.

  • Diversification: Since a Mutual Fund scheme invests in number of stocks and/or debentures, the associated risks are greatly reduced.

  • Relatively less expensive: When compared to direct investments in the capital market, Mutual Funds cost less. This is due to savings in brokerage costs, demat costs, depository costs etc.

  • Liquidity: Investments in Mutual Funds are completely liquid and can be redeemed at their Net Assets Value-related price on any working day.

  • Transparency: You will always have access to up-to-date information on the value of your investment in addition to the complete portfolio of investments, the proportion allocated to different assets and the fund manager’s investment strategy.
  • Flexibility: Through features such as Systematic Investment Plans, Systematic Withdrawal Plans and Dividend Investment Plans, you can systematically invest or withdraw funds according to your needs and convenience.

  • SEBI regulated market: All Mutual Funds are registered with SEBI and function within the provisions and regulations that protect the interests of investors. AMFI is the supervisory body of the Mutual Funds industry.
Types of Mutual Funds Schemes in India

Wide variety of Mutual Fund Schemes exists to cater to the needs such as financial position, risk tolerance and return expectations etc. thus mutual funds has Variety of flavors, Being a collection of many stocks, an investors can go for picking a mutual fund might be easy. There are over hundreds of mutual funds scheme to choose from. It is easier to think of mutual funds in categories, mentioned below.

Overview of existing schemes existed in mutual fund category: BY STRUCTURE
1. Open - Ended Schemes:
An open-end fund is one that is available for subscription all through the year. These do not have a fixed maturity. Investors can conveniently buy and sell units at Net Asset Value ("NAV") related prices. The key feature of open-end schemes is liquidity.
2. Close - Ended Schemes:
These schemes have a pre-specified maturity period. One can invest directly in the scheme at the time of the initial issue. Depending on the structure of the scheme there are two exit options available to an investor after the initial offer period closes. Investors can transact (buy or sell) the units of the scheme on the stock exchanges where they are listed. The market price at the stock exchanges could vary from the net asset value (NAV) of the scheme on account of demand and supply situation, expectations of unitholder and other market factors. Alternatively some close-ended schemes provide an additional option of selling the units directly to the Mutual Fund through periodic repurchase at the schemes NAV; however one cannot buy units and can only sell units during the liquidity window. SEBI Regulations ensure that at least one of the two exit routes is provided to the investor.
3. Interval Schemes:
Interval Schemes are that scheme, which combines the features of open-ended and close-ended schemes. The units may be traded on the stock exchange or may be open for sale or redemption during pre-determined intervals at NAV related prices.

Overview of existing schemes existed in mutual fund category: BY NATURE
1. Equity fund:
These funds invest a maximum part of their corpus into equities holdings. The structure of the fund may vary different for different schemes and the fund managerís outlook on different stocks. The Equity Funds are sub-classified depending upon their investment objective, as follows:

  • Diversified Equity Funds
  • Mid-Cap Funds
  • Sector Specific Funds
  • Tax Savings Funds (ELSS)

Equity investments are meant for a longer time horizon, thus Equity funds rank high on the risk-return matrix.

2. Debt funds:
The objective of these Funds is to invest in debt papers. Government authorities, private companies, banks and financial institutions are some of the major issuers of debt papers. By investing in debt instruments, these funds ensure low risk and provide stable income to the investors. Debt funds are further classified as:

  • Gilt Funds: Invest their corpus in securities issued by Government, popularly known as Government of India debt papers. These Funds carry zero Default risk but are associated with Interest Rate risk. These schemes are safer as they invest in papers backed by Government.
  • Income Funds: Invest a major portion into various debt instruments such as bonds, corporate debentures and Government securities.
  • MIPs: Invests maximum of their total corpus in debt instruments while they take minimum exposure in equities. It gets benefit of both equity and debt market. These scheme ranks slightly high on the risk-return matrix when compared with other debt schemes. Short Term Plans (STPs): Meant for investment horizon for three to six months. These funds primarily invest in short term papers like Certificate of Deposits (CDs) and Commercial Papers (CPs). Some portion of the corpus is also invested in corporate debentures.
  • Liquid Funds: Also known as Money Market Schemes, These funds provides easy liquidity and preservation of capital. These schemes invest in short-term instruments like Treasury Bills, inter-bank call money market, CPs and CDs. These funds are meant for short-term cash management of corporate houses and are meant for an investment horizon of 1day to 3 months. These schemes rank low on risk-return matrix and are considered to be the safest amongst all categories of mutual funds.
3. Balanced funds:
As the name suggest they, are a mix of both equity and debt funds. They invest in both equities and fixed income securities, which are in line with pre-defined investment objective of the scheme. These schemes aim to provide investors with the best of both the worlds. Equity part provides growth and the debt part provides stability in returns.
Further the mutual funds can be broadly classified on the basis of investment parameter viz,
Each category of funds is backed by an investment philosophy, which is pre-defined in the objectives of the fund. The investor can align his own investment needs with the funds objective and invest accordingly.
By investment objective:
  • Growth Schemes: Growth Schemes are also known as equity schemes. The aim of these schemes is to provide capital appreciation over medium to long term. These schemes normally invest a major part of their fund in equities and are willing to bear short-term decline in value for possible future appreciation.
  • Income Schemes:Income Schemes are also known as debt schemes. The aim of these schemes is to provide regular and steady income to investors. These schemes generally invest in fixed income securities such as bonds and corporate debentures. Capital appreciation in such schemes may be limited.
  • Balanced Schemes: Balanced Schemes aim to provide both growth and income by periodically distributing a part of the income and capital gains they earn. These schemes invest in both shares and fixed income securities, in the proportion indicated in their offer documents (normally 50:50).
  • Money Market Schemes: Money Market Schemes aim to provide easy liquidity, preservation of capital and moderate income. These schemes generally invest in safer, short-term instruments, such as treasury bills, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and inter-bank call money.
Other schemes
  • Tax Saving Schemes:
    Tax-saving schemes offer tax rebates to the investors under tax laws prescribed from time to time. Under Sec.88 of the Income Tax Act, contributions made to any Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) are eligible for rebate.
  • Index Schemes:
    Index schemes attempt to replicate the performance of a particular index such as the BSE Sensex or the NSE 50. The portfolio of these schemes will consist of only those stocks that constitute the index. The percentage of each stock to the total holding will be identical to the stocks index weightage. And hence, the returns from such schemes would be more or less equivalent to those of the Index.
  • Sector Specific Schemes:
    These are the funds/schemes which invest in the securities of only those sectors or industries as specified in the offer documents. e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Software, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Petroleum stocks, etc. The returns in these funds are dependent on the performance of the respective sectors/industries. While these funds may give higher returns, they are more risky compared to diversified funds. Investors need to keep a watch on the performance of those sectors/industries and must exit at an appropriate time.
Types of returns
There are three ways, where the total returns provided by mutual funds can be enjoyed by investors:
Income is earned from dividends on stocks and interest on bonds. A fund pays out nearly all income it receives over the year to fund owners in the form of a distribution.
If the fund sells securities that have increased in price, the fund has a capital gain. Most funds also pass on these gains to investors in a distribution.
If fund holdings increase in price but are not sold by the fund manager, the fund's shares increase in price. You can then sell your mutual fund shares for a profit. Funds will also usually give you a choice either to receive a check for distributions or to reinvest the earnings and get more shares.