SUMMARY

Mutual Funds are considered useful for investors who have little time to trade. However it is important to have the minimum knowledge before investing in mutual funds.

WHAT IS A MUTUAL FUND?

As per the website of Association Of Mutual Funds In India, mutual funds are trusts that collect investments from multiple investors sharing a common investment goal and put the funds in a common investment option. Fund managers decide where to invest these funds. Investors who are busy in their routine find it easy to invest in mutual funds with diversified portfolios (bonds, stocks, debentures etc.) to create an optimised risk-return ratio. Income generated from the investment is then distributed proportionately between the investors of the fund.

HOW TO INVEST IN MUTUAL FUNDS

Here is a method you can follow to invest in mutual funds:

Understanding investor profile: It requires understanding your risk tolerance level as well as goals for investing. Based on your financial objective and time horizon, you can fix the investable amount and pick a mutual fund that matches your profile.

Moreover, strategise your investment duration carefully. A high time frame will give higher returns than a short time frame. Similarly, a high time frame involves a higher risk than a short time frame. Before investing, you should have a particular goal; then only you will achieve that. But any wise person will choose mutual funds compared to FDs and PPF.

Choosing the suitable mutual funds: Secondly, you will have to select the right mutual fund – equity, debt, or hybrid, and its subcategories. Further investing in large-cap mutual funds will carry fewer risks than investing in small-cap or mid-cap mutual funds

Once you decide whether you want to go with value investing or growth, you can pick the suitable mutual funds from the wide variety available, based on risk-adjusted returns, performance across market cycles, and expense ratio. These will help in optimising asset allocation.

Monitoring and rebalancing: Successful investing requires tracking your investment regularly and taking action to readjust it to your financial goals. It is called rebalancing.

Portfolio rebalancing involves selling underperforming stocks and improving the overall risk exposure of the portfolio.

Investing in mutual funds

Investing in mutual funds has become simple with digitisation. Investors can complete the KYC process online and open a mutual fund in no time. Moreover, one doesn’t need a Demat to invest in mutual funds.

KYC is a set of documents submitted by the investors that allow the AMC to evaluate the candidature of the investor. If you complete central KYC, then you don’t have to do it separately every time. It involves

  1. Filled form
  2. PAN card
  3. Identity proof – Aadhar, Passport, Voter’s card, Driver’s license
  4. Address Proof – Passport, Driver’s license etc. are considered valid proofs

Most AMC’s will help you complete CKYC when you invest through them.

Once the CKYC process is done, you can start investing in mutual funds and set up a SIP plan by putting an auto-debit mandate in place. Every month (quarterly/bi-weekly as you set it), a fixed amount will get debited from your savings account towards mutual fund SIP.

TYPES OF MUTUAL FUNDS

Here is a broad classification of popular types of MF schemes.

Equity funds – These MF schemes invest majorly on company stocks/shares, involve higher risk and return. The return on these funds depends on market performance.

Debt funds – For investors with a low-risk tolerance, debt funds MFs invest in several bonds, debentures, government securities, and other financial instruments that generate assured earning.

Money market funds – These funds invest in T-bill, Commercial Papers and other liquid investments. Investors considering parking their surplus funds for immediate but moderate returns invest in these schemes.

Index funds – These funds invest in securities in a market index to generate similar returns.

Income funds – Income fund MFs invest in income-generating instruments like debentures and bonds to create a source of fixed income for the investor.

Speciality funds – These represent a cluster of mutual funds that invest in specific sectors and various other market segments to generate a high return.

Balanced or hybrid funds – As the name suggests, hybrid funds invest into a mix of asset-classes for a balanced risk-return.

Fund of funds – These types of mutual funds actively invest in other mutual funds. The return depends on the performance of these funds. These are also called multi-manager funds.

Tax-saving funds (ELSS) – These MF schemes invest in equities and stocks that qualify to receive tax benefits.

Pension funds – Pension funds invest in creating a regular stream of income for the investor after retirement. It generates a balanced return by investing in shares and fixed income-generating funds.

Fixed maturity funds – Fixed maturity funds invest in debt and money market instruments of fixed tenure. 

(Exchange-traded funds They are traded as units like mutual funds as a combination of investments but unlike mutual funds, they can be traded on a stock exchange.)

ADVANTAGES OF MUTUAL FUNDS

There are several advantages packed into mutual fund investment, apart from returns.

Diversification – Mutual funds solve the problem by offering immediate diversification beyond the abilities of a general investor. The fund manager researches the market and creates a balanced portfolio. 

Liquidity – Investing in open-ended mutual funds allows high liquidity. In open-ended mutual funds, investors can redeem stocks in the funds through a registered stockbroker. Some funds may come with a lock-in like ELSS funds, which offers tax savings.

Customizability – Another important factor that added to the popularity of mutual funds is customizability. Based on your investment goals or risk tolerance levels 

Safe & Transparent – The new SEBI guidelines require the mutual funds to be colour-coded to indicate the level of risk associated with the fund. It makes the entire process secure and transparent even to new investors. Mutual funds use three colours to indicate the risk level of the fund. Blue indicates low risk, yellow depicts the medium risk and brown means high risk

Cost-Effective – Mutual funds collect funds from different investors then invest the corpus into a portfolio. Hence, the investment cost is lower than stock market investment, where you need to pay transaction fees on every transaction. 

Tax Savings – ELSS mutual funds offer tax benefits u/s 80C of the Income Tax Act up to Rs 1.5 lakh in a year. ELSS mutual funds deliver higher returns than PPF, EPS, and tax savings index and offer tax benefits.

Lower Lock-in – Equity-linked saving schemes have a lock-in period of three years, lower than the five-year lock-in period for FD, ULIPs, and PPF. Investors also have the option to remain invested even after the lock-in. SIP in mutual funds allows investors to select investment amount and tenure as per convenience, and there is no early withdrawal penalty like with other investment types.

Advantage of SIP – You can leverage the power of SIP by regularly investing in the share market through mutual funds and take advantage of rupee cost averaging. SIP refers to methodical investment through all market conditions to benefit in the long run. 

You can select SIP frequency, ticket size, and even increase or decrease SIP amount to suit your needs. Mutual funds allow investors to switch funds to a better performing scheme, usually at a much lower cost.

With mutual funds, one doesn’t need to time the market.  Mutual Funds allow investors to invest through SIP and leverage the benefit of rupee cost averaging in the long run. You accumulate NAV according to market conditions, which keeps adding to your portfolio. When the market is booming, you receive fewer units than when NAV value is less. Therefore, over the long run, the cost of purchasing units gets averaged out. Hence, with mutual funds, you can invest any time, regardless of market condition.

Well-regulated – Mutual funds investment is regulated by SEBI and RBI. Also, the Association Of Mutual Funds In India (AMFI), a self-regulatory body formed by all the asset management companies oversees fund plans and management. It makes mutual funds investment safer compared to other forms.

CONCLUSION

Mutual Funds have all the advantages to be a popular investment vehicle as well as an opportunity for fund managers to generate high income without large investments from their own pockets.