What are Mutual Funds?

A mutual fund is a professionally-managed trust that pools the savings of many investors and invests them in securities like stocks, bonds, short-term money market instruments and commodities such as Gold. Investors in a mutual fund have a common financial goal and their money is invested in different asset classes in accordance with the fund’s investment objective. Investments in mutual funds entail comparatively small amounts, giving retail investors the advantage of having finance professionals control their money even if it is a few thousand rupees.

Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicles actively managed either by professional fund managers 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.

 

Mutual Fund Set Up

 

It is set up in the form of a trust that has a Sponsor, Trustees, Asset Management Company (AMC). The trust is established by a sponsor(s) who is like a promoter of a company and the said Trust is registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as a Mutual Fund. The Trustees of the mutual fund hold its property for the benefit of unit holders. An Asset Management Company (AMC) approved by SEBI manages the fund by making investments in various types of securities.

The trustees are vested with the power of superintendence and direction over the AMC. They monitor the performance and compliance of SEBI regulations by the mutual fund. The trustees are vested with the general power of superintendence and direction over AMC. They manage the performance and compliance of SEBI Regulations by the mutual fund.

 

NAV

 

NAV or Net Asset Value is the total asset value (net of expenses) per unit of the fund and is calculated by the AMC at the end of every business day. In order to calculate the NAV of a mutual fund, you need to take the current market value of the fund's assets minus the liabilities, if any and divide it by the number of shares outstanding. NAV is calculated as follows:

 

For example, if the market value of securities of a Mutual Fund scheme is  300 lakh and the Mutual Fund has issued 10 lakh units of  10 each to investors, then the NAV per unit of the fund is 30.

 

 

Different Types Of Funds

Different Types Of Funds

Based on the maturity period

Open-ended Fund 

An open-ended fund is a fund that is available for subscription and can be redeemed on a continuous basis. It is available for subscription throughout the year and investors can buy and sell units at NAV related prices. These funds do not have a fixed maturity date. The key feature of an open-ended fund is liquidity.

Close-ended Fund
A close-ended fund is a fund that has a defined maturity period, e.g. 3-6 years. These funds are open for subscription for a specified period at the time of initial launch. These funds are listed on a recognized stock exchange.

Interval Funds
Interval funds combine the features of open-ended and close-ended funds. These funds may trade on stock exchanges and are open for sale or redemption at predetermined intervals on the prevailing NAV.

Based on investment objectives

Equity/Growth Funds 

 
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 

 
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 

 
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

 
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


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.

Some of the common types of mutual funds and what they typically invest in:

Type of Fund Typical Investment
Equity or Growth Fund Equities like stocks
Fixed Income Fund Fixed income securities like government and corporate bonds
Money Market Fund Short-term fixed income securities like treasury bills
Balanced Fund A mix of equities and fixed income securities
Sector-specific Fund Sectors like IT, Pharma, Auto etc.
Index Fund Equities or Fixed income securities chosen to replicate a specific Index for example S&P CNX Nifty
Fund of funds Other mutual funds

Other Schemes

Tax-Saving (Equity linked Savings Schemes) Funds

Tax-saving schemes offer tax rebates to investors under specific provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961. These are growth-oriented schemes and invest primarily in equities. Like an equity scheme, they largely suit investors having a higher risk appetite and aim to generate capital appreciation over medium to long term.

 

Index Funds

Index schemes replicate the performance of a particular index such as the BSE Sensex or the S&P CNX Nifty. The portfolio of these schemes consist of only those stocks that represent the index and the weightage assigned to each stock is aligned to the stock’s weightage in the index. Hence, the returns from these funds are more or less similar to those generated by the Index.

 

Sector-specific Funds

Sector-specific funds invest in the securities of only those sectors or industries as specified in the Scheme Information Document. The returns in these funds are dependent on the performance of the respective sector/industries for example FMCG, Pharma, IT, etc. The funds enable investors to diversify holdings among many companies within an industry. Sector funds are riskier as their performance is dependent on particular sectors although this also results in higher returns generated by these funds.