Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicle actively managed either by professional fund manager or passively tracked by an index or industry. The funds are generally well diversified to offset potential losses. They offer an attractive way for savings to be managed in a passive manner without paying high fees or requiring constant attention from individual investors. Mutual funds present an option for investors who lack the time or knowledge to make traditional and complex investment decisions. By putting your money in a mutual fund, you permit the portfolio manager to make those essential decisions for you.
Equity/Growth funds invest a major part of its corpus in stocks and the investment objective of these funds is long-term capital growth. When you buy shares of an equity mutual fund, you effectively become a part owner of each of the securities in your fund’s portfolio. Equity funds invest minimum 65% of its corpus in equity and equity related securities. These funds may invest in a wide range of industries or focus on one or more industry sectors. These types of funds are suitable for investors with a long-term outlook and higher risk appetite.
Debt/ Income funds generally invest in securities such as bonds, corporate debentures, government securities (gilts) and money market instruments. These funds invest minimum 65% of its corpus in fixed income securities. By investing in debt instruments, these funds provide low risk and stable income to investors with preservation of capital. These funds tend to be less volatile than equity funds and produce regular income. These funds are suitable for investors whose main objective is safety of capital with moderate growth.
Balanced funds invest in both equities and fixed income instruments in line with the pre-determined investment objective of the scheme. These funds provide both stability of returns and capital appreciation to investors. These funds with equal allocation to equities and fixed income securities are ideal for investors looking for a combination of income and moderate growth. They generally have an investment pattern of investing around 60% in Equity and 40% in Debt instruments.
Money market/ Liquid funds invest in safer short-term instruments such as Treasury Bills, Certificates of Deposit and Commercial Paper for a period of less than 91 days. The aim of Money Market /Liquid Funds is to provide easy liquidity, preservation of capital and moderate income. These funds are ideal for corporate and individual investors looking for moderate returns on their surplus funds.
Gilt funds invest exclusively in government securities. Although these funds carry no credit risk, they are associated with interest rate risk. These funds are safer as they invest in government securities.
When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is managed by finance professionals. Investors who do not have the time or skill to manage their own portfolio can invest in mutual funds. By investing in mutual funds, you can gain the services of professional fund managers, which would otherwise be costly for an individual investor.
Mutual funds provide the benefit of diversification across different sectors and companies. Mutual funds widen investments across various industries and asset classes. Thus, by investing in a mutual fund, you can gain from the benefits of diversification and asset allocation, without investing a large amount of money that would be required to build an individual portfolio.
Mutual funds are usually very liquid investments. Unless they have a pre-specified lock-in period, your money is available to you anytime you want subject to exit load, if any. Normally funds take a couple of days for returning your money to you. Since they are well integrated with the banking system, most funds can transfer the money directly to your bank account.
Investors can benefit from the convenience and flexibility offered by mutual funds to invest in a wide range of schemes. The option of systematic (at regular intervals) investment and withdrawal is also offered to investors in most open-ended schemes. Depending on one’s inclinations and convenience one can invest or withdraw funds.
Due to economies of scale, mutual funds pay lower transaction costs. The benefits are passed on to mutual fund investors, which may not be enjoyed by an individual who enters the market directly.
Funds provide investors with updated information pertaining to the markets and schemes through factsheets, offer documents, annual reports etc.
Mutual funds in India are regulated and monitored by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which endeavours to protect the interests of investors. All funds are registered with SEBI and complete transparency is enforced. Mutual funds are required to provide investors with standard information about their investments, in addition to other disclosures like specific investments made by the scheme and the quantity of investment in each asset class.
A Systematic Investment Plan or SIP is a smart and hassle free mode for investing money in mutual funds. SIP allows you to invest a certain pre-determined amount at a regular interval (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). A SIP is a planned approach towards investments and helps you inculcate the habit of saving and building wealth for the future.
Albert Einstein once said, "Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it... he who doesn't... pays it." The rule for compounding is simple - the sooner you start investing, the more time your money has to grow.