Mutual Fund

Mutual fund is a collective investment vehicle that collects & pools money from a number of investors and invests the same in equities, bonds, government securities, money market instruments. The money collected in mutual fund scheme is invested by professional fund managers in stocks and bonds etc. in line with a scheme’s investment objective. Mutual funds are ideal for investors who –

  1. want to grow their wealth, but do not have the inclination or time to research the stock market.
  2. lack the knowledge or skill / experience of investing in stock markets directly.
  3. wish to invest only small amounts.

There are various types of mutual fund that one can evaluate investing after understanding the risk and reward associated with it. To name a few, Large Cap Funds, Mid Cap Funds, Small Cap Funds, Balanced Advantage Funds, Debt Funds, Hybrid Funds, etc.

As investment goals vary from person to person – post-retirement expenses, money for children’s education or marriage, house purchase, etc. – the investment products required to achieve these goals too vary. Mutual funds provide certain distinct advantages over investing in individual securities. Mutual funds offer multiple choices for investment across equity shares, corporate bonds, government securities, and money market instruments, providing an excellent avenue for retail investors to participate and benefit from the uptrends in capital markets. The main advantages are that you can invest in a variety of securities for a relatively low cost and leave the investment decisions to a professional manager.

1. Professional Management — Investors may not have the time or the required knowledge and resources to conduct their research and purchase individual stocks or bonds. A mutual fund is managed by full-time, professional money managers who have the expertise, experience and resources to actively buy, sell, and monitor investments. A fund manager continuously monitors investments and rebalances the portfolio accordingly to meet the scheme’s objectives.

2. Risk Diversification — Buying shares in a mutual fund is an easy way to diversify your investments across many securities and asset categories such as equity, debt and gold, which helps in spreading the risk - so you won't have all your eggs in one basket. This proves to be beneficial when an underlying security of a given mutual fund scheme experiences market headwinds. With diversification, the risk associated with one asset class is countered by the others. Even if one investment in the portfolio decreases in value, other investments may not be impacted and may even increase in value.

3. Affordability & Convenience (Invest Small Amounts) — For many investors, it could be more costly to directly purchase all of the individual securities held by a single mutual fund. By contrast, the minimum initial investments for most mutual funds are more affordable.

4. Liquidity — You can easily redeem (liquidate) units of open ended mutual fund schemes to meet your financial needs on any business day (when the stock markets and/or banks are open), so you have easy access to your money. Upon redemption, the redemption amount is credited in your bank account within one day to 3-4 days, depending upon the type of scheme e.g., in respect of Liquid Funds and Overnight Funds, the redemption amount is paid out the next business day.

However, please note that units of close-ended mutual fund schemes can be redeemed only on maturity. Likewise, units of ELSS have a 3-year lock-in period and can be liquidated only thereafter.

5. Low Cost — An important advantage of mutual funds is their low cost. Due to huge economies of scale, mutual funds schemes have a low expense ratio. Expense ratio represents the annual fund operating expenses of a scheme, expressed as a percentage of the fund’s daily net assets. Operating expenses of a scheme are administration, management, advertising related expenses, etc. The limits of expense ratio for various types of schemes has been specified under Regulation 52 of SEBI Mutual Fund Regulations, 1996.

6. Well-Regulated — Mutual Funds are regulated by the capital markets regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) under SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996. SEBI has laid down stringent rules and regulations keeping investor protection, transparency with appropriate risk mitigation framework and fair valuation principles.

7. Tax Benefits —Investment in ELSS upto ₹1,50,000 qualifies for tax benefit under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Mutual Fund investments when held for a longer term are tax efficient.z