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FAQs

QAre investments in mutual fund units risk-free or safe?

A

This depends on the underlying instrument that a mutual fund invests in, based on its investment objectives. Mutual funds that invest in stock market-related instruments cannot be termed risk-free or safe as investment in shares are inherently risky by nature, whereas funds that invest in fixed-income instruments are relatively safe and those that invest only in government securities are the safest.

QAre investments in mutual funds liquid?

A

Yes. Investors of open-ended schemes can redeem their units on any business day and receive the current market value on their investments within a short time period (normally three- to five-days). Investors of close-ended schemes can redeem their units only on maturity but can sell it in the secondary market like stocks

QAs a unitholder, how much time will it take to receive dividends/repurchase proceeds?

A

A mutual fund is required to despatch to the unitholders the dividend warrants within 30 days of the declaration of the dividend and the redemption or repurchase proceeds within 10 working days from the date of redemption or repurchase request made by the unitholder.

In case of failures to despatch the redemption/repurchase proceeds within the stipulated time period, Asset Management Company is liable to pay interest as specified by SEBI from time to time (15% at present).

QCan a mutual fund change the asset allocation while deploying funds of investors?

A

Considering the market trends, any prudent fund managers can change the asset allocation i.e. he can invest higher or lower percentage of the fund in equity or debt instruments compared to what is disclosed in the offer document. It can be done on a short term basis on defensive considerations i.e. to protect the NAV. Hence the fund managers are allowed certain flexibility in altering the asset allocation considering the interest of the investors. In case the mutual fund wants to change the asset allocation on a permanent basis, they are required to inform the unitholders and giving them option to exit the scheme at prevailing NAV without any load.

QCan a mutual fund change the nature of the scheme from the one specified in the offer document?

A

Yes. However, no change in the nature or terms of the scheme, known as fundamental attributes of the scheme e.g.structure, investment pattern, etc. can be carried out unless a written communication is sent to each unitholder and an advertisement is given in one English daily having nationwide circulation and in a newspaper published in the language of the region where the head office of the mutual fund is situated. The unitholders have the right to exit the scheme at the prevailing NAV without any exit load if they do not want to continue with the scheme. The mutual funds are also required to follow similar procedure while converting the scheme form close-ended to open-ended scheme and in case of change in sponsor.

QCan a mutual fund impose fresh load or increase the load beyond the level mentioned in the offer documents?

A

Mutual funds cannot increase the load beyond the level mentioned in the offer document. Any change in the load will be applicable only to prospective investments and not to the original investments. In case of imposition of fresh loads or increase in existing loads, the mutual funds are required to amend their offer documents so that the new investors are aware of loads at the time of investments.

QCan an investor appoint a nominee for his investment in units of a mutual fund?

A

Yes. The nomination can be made by individuals applying for / holding units on their own behalf singly or jointly. Non-individuals including society, trust, body corporate, partnership firm, Karta of Hindu Undivided Family, holder of Power of Attorney cannot nominate.

QCan non-resident Indians (NRIs) invest in mutual funds?

A

Yes, non-resident Indians can also invest in mutual funds. Necessary details in this respect are given in the offer documents of the schemes.

QDo any mutual funds invest in both stocks and bonds?

A

Yes, balanced funds invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, a typical mix is 60:40 in favour of stocks. Returns from balanced funds are normally lower than pure equity mutual funds when markets are rising, however if the market declines, the losses are also normally lower. Balanced funds are best suited for investors who do not plan their asset allocation and yet want to invest in equities. Buying separate equity and income funds for your portfolio also achieves the same results as buying a balanced fund. The advantage with the former option is that you can choose your own split (between stocks and bonds i.e fixed income) rather than let the fund manager decide the same.

QDo mutual funds offer a periodic investment plan?

A

Most private sector funds provide you the convenience of periodic purchase plans (through a Systematic Investment Plan), automatic withdrawal plans and the automatic reinvestment of dividends. You would basically need to give post-dated cheques (monthly or quarterly, periodic date of the cheque is fixed by the Asset Management Company). Most funds allow a monthly investment of as little as Rs500 with a provision of giving 4-6 post-dated cheques and follow up later with more. Regular monthly investments are a good way to build a long-term portfolio and add discipline to your investment process.

QHow are mutual funds regulated?

A

All Asset Management Companies (AMCs) are regulated by SEBI and/or the RBI (in case the AMC is promoted by a bank). In addition, every mutual fund has a board of directors that represents the unit holders interests in the mutual fund.

QHow can the investors redress their complaints?

A

Investors would find the name of contact person in the offer document of the mutual fund scheme whom they may approach in case of any query, complaints or grievances. Trustees of a mutual fund monitor the activities of the mutual fund. The names of the directors of asset management company and trustees are also given in the offer documents. Investors should approach the concerned Mutual Fund / Investor Service Centre of the Mutual Fund with their complaints,

If the complaints remain unresolved, the investors may approach SEBI for facilitating redressal of their complaints. On receipt of complaints, SEBI takes up the matter with the concerned mutual fund and follows up with it regularly. Investors may send their complaints to:

Securities and Exchange Board of India,
Office of Investor Assistance and Education (OIAE)

Plot No.C4-A , “G” Block, 1st Floor,
Bandra-Kurla Complex,
Bandra (E), Mumbai – 400 051.
Phone: 26449199-88-77

QHow do I invest with a limited amount?

A

Regular investing is a very good way to build up an investment portfolio (read Dollar Cost Averaging to understand why) and this can be done with any amount of money. First, plan out how your investments should be spread out i.e. how much should be invested in equity shares and how much in fixed-income (bonds/ debentures) instruments. This should be based on your risk profile i.e. what your risk taking capacity is (how much risk can you take financially) and what your attitude towards risk is.

Unless you rate high on aptitude, temperament and knowledge related to investing in shares, equity mutual funds offer a better alternative to investing directly in shares. Income mutual funds also offer a good alternative to fixed-income investment. For regular investment, most mutual fund schemes have a Systematic Investment Plan - this can be either monthly or quarterly installments. Typically, the minimum installment amount is around Rs500 and while choosing this plan, you will need to give around three- to four-post dated cheques at the time of investment

QHow do you evaluate mutual funds performance?

A

Although past performance is no guarantee for the future, it is a useful way of assessing how well or badly a fund has performed in comparison to its stated objectives and peer group. A good way to do this would be to identify the five best performing funds (within your selected investment objectives) over various periods, say 3 months, 6 months, one year, two years and three years. Shortlist funds that appear in the top 5 in each of these time horizons as they would have thus demonstrated their ability to be not only good but also, consistent performers. To get help through this process, you can use our Find-A-Fund query module

QHow do you select a mutual fund scheme?

A

What's strategy got to do with selecting a mutual fund? Shouldn't you just go and invest in the best performing fund? The answer is no. Mutual fund investing requires as much strategic input as any other investment option. But the advantage is that the strategy here is a natural extension of your asset allocation plan (use our Asset Allocator to understand what your optimum asset allocation plan should be, based on your personal risk profile). Moneycontrol recommends the following process:

Identify funds whose investment objectives match your asset allocation needs
Just as you would buy a computer that fits your needs and budget, you should choose a mutual fund that meets your risk tolerance (need) and your risk capacity (budget) levels (i.e. has similar investment objectives as your own). Typical investment objectives of mutual funds include fixed income or equity, general equity or sector-focused, high risk or low risk, blue-chips or turnarounds, long-term or short-term liquidity focus. You can use Moneycontrol?s Find-A-Fund query module to find funds whose investment objectives match yours.
Evaluate past performance, look for consistency
Although past performance is no guarantee of future performance, it is a useful way of assessing how well or badly a fund has performed in comparison to its stated objectives and peer group. A good way to do this would be to identify the five best performing funds (within your selected investment objectives) over various periods, say 3 months, 6 months, one year, two years and three years. Shortlist funds that appear in the top 5 in each of these time horizons as they would have thus demonstrated their ability to be not only good but also, consistent performers. You can engage in such research through Moneycontrol?s Find-A-Fund query module. Or, to get such a list, use our Best Picks reports which use this methodology as its predominant basis.

QHow does "entry load" eat into your investment returns?

A

A 2.25% entry load sounds small. But it still bites a chunk off your returns over a long period of time. For instance, Rs 1 lakh invested directly in the no-load option of an equity fund that grows at a rate of 15% over a period of 20 years yields around Rs 16.36 lakh against Rs 15.99 lakh that a load fund would returna difference of Rs 36,820. This is because even a small sum of 2.25% gets compounded over the years.

The pinch remains the same even in a systematic investment plan (SIP). As SIPs entail investments on a regular basis, say every month, you end up paying entry loads on all your investment instalments. Assume you had invested Rs 5,000 in Reliance Vision Fund (RVF) on January 1, 2003 through a monthly SIP. If you had withdrawn your entire investment after five years, on December 31, 2007, you would have got back Rs 11.52 lakh in the no-load option and Rs 11.25 lakh in a load option, a difference of a cool Rs 25,914.

QHow is a mutual fund set up?

A

A mutual fund is set up in the form of a trust, which has sponsor, trustees, asset management company (AMC) and custodian. The trust is established by a sponsor or more than one sponsor who is like promoter of a company. The trustees of the mutual fund hold its property for the benefit of the unitholders. Asset Management Company (AMC) approved by SEBI manages the funds by making investments in various types of securities. Custodian, who is registered with SEBI, holds the securities of various schemes of the fund in its custody. The trustees are vested with the general power of superintendence and direction over AMC. They monitor the performance and compliance of SEBI Regulations by the mutual fund.

SEBI Regulations require that at least two thirds of the directors of trustee company or board of trustees must be independent i.e. they should not be associated with the sponsors. Also, 50% of the directors of AMC must be independent. All mutual funds are required to be registered with SEBI before they launch any scheme.

QHow is NAV calculated?

A

The value of all the securities in mutual funds portfolio is calculated daily. From this, all expenses are deducted and the resultant value divided by the number of units in the fund is the funds NAV or its Net Asset Value.

QHow long will it take for transfer of units after purchase from stock markets in case of close-ended schemes?

A

According to SEBI Regulations, transfer of units is required to be done within thirty days from the date of lodgment of certificates with the mutual fund.

QHow many funds or stocks should you diversify your portfolio over?

A

To get the maximum benefit of reducing your risk through diversification spread your portfolio across different assets whose returns are not 100% correlated. Different assets should ideally span across different asset classes such as fixed income, equity, real estate, gold as well as different investment options within these asset classes e.g. within equity shares, your exposure should be to companies in different sectors; or within fixed income investments, partly government risk and partly corporate risk.

As a thumb rule, diversify your investments across 15-20 different portfolio holdings if you are directly investing in stocks or bonds. If you are investing through mutual funds, then three MF schemes for stocks and three schemes for bonds should provide you adequate diversification.

QHow significant are fund costs while choosing a scheme?

A

The cost of investing through a mutual fund is not insignificant and deserves due consideration, especially when it comes to fixed income funds. Management fees, annual expenses of the fund and sales loads can take away a significant portion of your returns. As a general rule, 1% towards management fees and 0.6% towards other annual expenses should be acceptable. Carefully examine the fee a fund charges for getting in and out of the fund. Again, you can query on entry and exit loads under our Find-A-Fund query module or get a pre-defined shortlist of funds on the load specification structure through the Mutual Fund Directory section.

QHow to diversify?

A

Don't just zero in on one mutual fund (to avoid the risk of being overly dependent on any one fund). Pick two, preferably three mutual funds that would match your investment objective in each asset allocation category and spread your investment. We recommend a 60:40 split if you have shortlisted 2 funds and a 50:30:20 split if you have shortlisted 3 funds for investment.

QHow to fill up the application form of a mutual fund scheme?

A

An investor must mention clearly his name, address, number of units applied for and such other information as required in the application form. He must give his bank account number so as to avoid any fraudulent encashment of any cheque/draft issued by the mutual fund at a later date for the purpose of dividend or repurchase. Any changes in the address, bank account number, etc at a later date should be informed to the mutual fund immediately.

QHow to identify funds whose investment objectives match your asset allocation needs?

A

Just as you would buy a computer that fits your needs and budget, you should choose a mutual fund that meets your risk tolerance (need) and your risk capacity (budget) levels (i.e. has similar investment objectives as your own). Typical investment objectives of mutual funds include fixed income or equity, general equity or sector-focused, high risk or low risk, blue-chips or turnarounds, long-term or short-term liquidity focus. You can use moneycontrol’s Find-A-Fund query module to find funds whose investment objectives match yours.

QHow to invest in a scheme of a mutual fund?

A

Mutual funds normally come out with an advertisement in newspapers publishing the date of launch of the new schemes. Investors can also contact the agents and distributors of mutual funds who are spread all over the country for necessary information and application forms. Forms can be deposited with mutual funds through the agents and distributors who provide such services. Now a days, the post offices and banks also distribute the units of mutual funds. However, the investors may please note that the mutual funds schemes being marketed by banks and post offices should not be taken as their own schemes and no assurance of returns is given by them. The only role of banks and post offices is to help in distribution of mutual funds schemes to the investors.

Investors should not be carried away by commission/gifts given by agents/distributors for investing in a particular scheme. On the other hand they must consider the track record of the mutual fund and should take objective decisions.

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