Monday, June 29, 2009

BASICS OF MUTUAL FUND INVESTING

Mutual funds are one of the most efficient and popular investment options for people looking to invest for wealth creation.There are thousands of funds to choose from, yet most investors really don’t need more than four or five funds. Sifting through all of the choices can be rather daunting.

There are thousands of funds to choose from, yet most investors really don’t need more than four or five funds. Sifting through all of the choices can be rather daunting.

HOW DOES A MUTUAL FUND WORKS

A mutual fund is a fund where money is collected from all the investors investing in that fund, and is invested by a qualified fund manager on behalf of all the investors. The fund manager manages the investment and aims to beat the benchmark returns like BSE 100, Nifty 50 etc. Each of the funds will have a investment goal and strategy and the fund manager is required to invest according to that mandate. There are 3 kinds of mutual funds basically on the nature of its investments

1. Equity based mutual funds

2. Debt Based mutual funds

3. Balanced or hybrid mutual funds

Mutual funds are also classified as active funds and index funds. Active funds are the funds where the fund manager actively trades the stocks to generate maximum possible returns , while in an index fund the investment is made in stocks representing that particular index like nifty or sensex , in the same proportion. The active funds can have greater returns but also have higher costs, while index funds have lower costs and believe in "buy and hold"strategy.

HOW TO EVALUATE A FUND?

First, you need to figure out what type — or style — of fund you need, which is based on your investment goals, time horizon, tolerance for risk, among other factors. After deciding what types of funds you need — like an international stock fund or a fund of small companies — you will want to evaluate the funds in each category using the following criteria:

1. Costs - First, find out if there are any suitable index funds — they have the lowest costs and typically beat their actively managed counterparts over time. The average active mutual fund charges about 2.25 percent of your investment each year — this charge is known as a fund’s expense ratio — while the average index fund costs 0.50 percent.Pay close attention to other fees. You want to avoid funds that charge loads, which are sales charges levied when you buy or sell a fund.

2. Company - Do business with companies that have long track records. The same goes for portfolio managers. Find out how long they have been running the fund, and what they have done in the past. Web sites like Morningstar.com and valueresearchonline.com track this type of information.

3. 5 star or 4 star funds only - Morningstar and valueresearchonline rate the funds depending on their relative performance over years. The 5 star rated funds are supposed to be best performing fund and one must look to invest in those only.

4. Performance over long term - Don’t put too much weight on fund performance over recent past. Often, this year’s star funds are next year’s worst performers. Check the fund’s performance over three-, five- and 10-year periods. If the fund is actively managed, compare how the fund has performed versus its benchmark, especially during market downturns. Be sure to stack it alongside its peers, or funds of the same style, too. Choose a fund with relatively consistent returns.

5. Portfolio turnover - This is a measure of how often a fund manager buys and sells the securities it holds. If a fund has a portfolio turnover of 100%, that means it has bought and sold its entire portfolio within the last year. The higher the turnover, the higher the trading costs -- and the more likely the fund will generate capital gains. Lower turnover means the portfolio manager is adhering to a longer-term buy-and-hold strategy, which should translate to higher returns. Index funds have a very low turnover ratio. For funds held in taxable accounts, it is best to choose a fund with turnover of less than 25 percent.

WHERE TO BUY MUTUAL FUNDS FROM

One can buy mutual funds from various distributors of the AMCs. Most of the banks and FIs act as agents or distributors for the mutual funds company and one can buy it from them. Mutual fund company have direct sales offices and representative as well. There are AMFI certified agents as well who sell mutual funds. One can buy it from them as well.

1 comment:

  1. Great post on mutual funds. Lots of interesting stuff on this blog.

    ReplyDelete