Oct 22, 2012 10:48 AM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Why should you prefer SIP in equity funds?

Hemant Rustagi of Wiseinvest Advisors believes that mutual funds offer much more than what equity funds have to offer.

Hemant Rustagi of Wiseinvest Advisors believes that mutual funds offer much more than what equity funds. "Investors needs to really also understand that SIP is actually a mechanism that encourages investor to not only follow a disciplined approach, but also it inculcates regular saving habit," he told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

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Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview

Q: It is generally believed that investors benefit from the systematic investment route or the SIP only when they do it in equity or balanced funds. So, generally when someone wants to invest in equity fund - that’s when they think of SIPs. Considering the fact that MF’s actually have started offering a variety of debt funds as well, does it make sense for investors to use this SIP route even for debt MFs? How does it compare versus investing in your usual bank recurring deposit?

A: I think most investors, when they invest through SIP opt for equity and balanced fund. I would say, over the last couple of years, even the gold funds have become a preferred option. But the reason why there has been focus on equity fund/balanced fund are basically for two reasons. One is systematic investment plan or systematic investing or a disciplined approach is considered to be the best way to tackle the volatility that exists in the marketplace every now and then. The second is, all those investors who invest in equity as an asset class over the long-term to achieve large targets that they have for these goals opt for equity oriented funds. As they do not have a lump sum to invest, they want to actually accumulate the corpus over a period of time and that is why they opt for SIP.

But if you really analyze their experiences from this, it has been actually a mixed experience. The reason for that is that many investors start investing in these funds either without a defined time horizon or invest for the short-term. Typically, every time the market goes down, we see lot of investors stopping their SIP. That I think is a clear indication that they do not really realize the fact that equity investment is for the long-term and they need to continue.

So, I think the time has come for them to realize that the mutual funds offer much more than equity funds. There are a variety of debt funds which are available. There is ultra short-term debt fund. There is short-term debt fund. There is income fund. There are debt oriented hybrid funds also. Investors needs to really also understand that SIP is actually a mechanism that encourages investor to not only follow a disciplined approach, but also it inculcates regular saving habit. Therefore, the fund selection clearly has to be dependent on the time horizon that investor has on hand and also basically what is the objective that he wants to achieve. I believe that if you were to compare traditional options like recurring deposit with these short-term, ultra short-term or income funds, not only these options have potential to give better returns, but also the returns are more tax efficient. Yes, in the traditional options you get guaranteed returns, but normally the returns are low. Also, because you are not tax efficient the post-tax returns are very low.

We can understand by we have an example. If an investor in the highest tax bracket of 30 percent gets 9 percent from an recurring deposit, his post-tax return is going to be only 6.3 percent, whereas the same money if he gets in ultra short-term fund, because the long-term capital gain is taxed at 10 percent he will end up getting 8.10 percent and if he claims indexation it will be even higher. You can clearly see that if investors can move away from the fact that they want only guaranteed return, they actually can give themselves a chance to get better returns and also more tax efficient returns.

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Q: But in the specific issue, will an SIP only mean that it is a regular savings habit cultivation or even in a debt fund it makes sense? Is there any volatility at all that needs to be ironed out through SIPs?

A: If someone is investing in income fund, they tend to be little more volatile as compared to ultra short-term and short-term. Yes, the volatility will be there and you can benefit from averaging, but not so much what you see in equity and balanced fund. The point I am trying to make here is that investors need to realize that SIP is meant for investors who want to accumulate a large sum over a period of time.

Also, the choice should depend on their time horizon and risk profile. What typically happens is that every investor, when they look at SIP, they want to invest in these funds even if the investment has to be made for one or two years which is not right. That is why you see lot of investors getting disappointed with the kind of results they get.

Q: Investor has been investing in FDs and some mutual funds. She hasn’t got much knowledge of stock market. Investor wants to invest Rs 25,000 per month. Which plans can she invest in?

A: In this case too, the most important thing to understand is that systematic investment plan is a mechanism. It is a way of how one can invest in different kind of funds. The key remains as to, what kind of fund one should be investing in. If the time horizon is slightly longer maybe five-seven years or even more, one can look at a mix of balance fund and equity fund. At this stage I think the focus should be primarily on the fund that invests predominantly in large cap stocks especially if the intent is to invest in equity funds.

Some of the funds that can be considered are HDFC Top 200, Reliance Top 200 or DSP Blackrock 100. One of these funds can be looked at. In the balanced fund category, one can look at HDFC Balanced Fund or Tata Balanced Fund. But if the intent is again to invest for a short term or not taking risk inspite of the fact that money will be invested through SIP, then as we discussed earlier, there is a need to then look at debt fund or debt oriented hybrid funds.

Maybe, there you have options of looking at short term fund like Birla Sunlife Dynamic Bond Fund. In the income fund category, SBI Dynamic Bond Fund can be looked at. So, clearly the important factor is to decide for what time period the money has to be invested. Even if one is investing for 10 years, the average holding period is going to five years. So, keep these two factors in mind and then decide the combination that is when you can actually benefit from the systematic investing and also the potential of the asset class that you are investing in.

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