Moneycontrol
Nov 10, 2017 09:47 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Mistakes to avoid while investing in ELSS mutual funds

The primary objectives of ELSS investments are long-term capital growth and tax saving.

Navneet Dubey @navneetdubey91

Most investors who invest in equity-linked savings scheme (ELSS) do so to save taxes under Section 80C of Income Tax Act. However, they tend to forget that the ELSS schemes can also help them to achieve their financial goal if they remain invested for a long time.

“The primary objective of ELSS investment is long-term capital growth and tax saving. Superior long-term growth is facilitated by the power of compounding. Power of compounding works best over a long investment horizon when gains are reinvested every time they accrue,” said Rahul Parikh, CEO, Bajaj Capital.

The schemes under ELSS category also gives you high inflation-beating returns, similar to PPF they also provide you EEE (exempt-exempt-exempt) benefit.

However, make sure you don't commit the usual mistakes while investing in ELSS. Here are some of the common mistakes investors make while investing in these schemes:

Trying to time the market:  Do not try to time the market when you are investing. Unless you have seasoned investors with a phenomenal understanding of the market, the chances are that you might not be able to identify the precise time to invest.

Ajit Narasimhan, Head – Savings and Investments, BankBazaar said that there is a high amount of uncertainty which makes it next to impossible to correctly predict events or their impact on the market and hence to time the market. Instead, focus on identifying a few good funds. Once you invest, have the patience to ride through the rough and tumble of the stock markets. “Equity investments grow by staying systematically invested for the long run. This is what makes SIP a good option as it averages the cost of investment over time and cancels out the effect of price fluctuation in the market,” he said

Not understanding the fund category: It very important to understand that most of the AMC’s design their ELSS tax saving mutual fund scheme on the basis of large cap, mid cap/small cap and accordingly their risk and returns vary. Here it is vital to first know your risk taking capacity that whether you will be able to risk or not. Take help from your financial adviser to know all holdings mentioned in your scheme and then choose the fund accordingly.

Investing at the last minute: Investment should be a planned activity and not at the spur of the moment.

Narasimhan points out for investments to be successful and provide the required returns, investors should have a financial goal in mind and a plan to work towards it. Leaving it to the last minute can lead to insufficient time to set your goals or create a viable investment plan. “Lack of time may imply that you may have to cut down your research and depend on someone else’s research and opinion to base your investment. This can be very dangerous as the goals, requirements, and risk appetite may not match. It may also cause the investor to invest in one go instead of small regular SIPs. This is an important factor as SIPs provide price averaging and take away the need to time markets,” he said.

Redeeming soon after the lock-in period ends: Minimum investment time period in equities should ideally be for 5-7 years and when you take a decision of redeeming your units before time as mentioned thereon, you may not gain much from it. The longer you remain invested, the more you gain from compounding effect and rupee cost averaging principle. You should always link your investment with a long time horizon financial goal.

Investing in too many funds: ELSS funds have a lock-in of 3 years, If you are investing in too many funds of the same category then it may become difficult for you to review your portfolio since you cannot exit before 3 years. Moreover, too much of diversification may also not help you in proper asset class analysis.               

Choosing the dividend option: You should opt for growth option while investing in ELSS mutual fund schemes because if you opt for the dividend, you can lose on gaining from compounding effect. Parikh also said that investing in a growth option ensures that gains are reinvested and grow at the same rate as the principal investment. “However, in dividend payout option, the gains are not reinvested but are paid out and hence not available for compounding, resulting in lower long-term returns. When investing for long-term capital growth in any of the equity mutual fund, one should opt for the growth option,” Parikh said.
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