A mutual fund is an investment that pools money from many investors and invests the money in stocks, bonds, short-term money-market instruments, other securities or assets, or some combination of these investments. The combined holdings the mutual fund owns are known as its portfolio. Each share represents an investor's proportionate ownership of the fund's holdings and the income those holdings generate.
Some of the traditional, distinguishing characteristics of mutual funds include the following:
- Investors purchase mutual fund shares from the fund itself (or through a broker for the fund) instead of from other investors on a secondary market, such as the BSE or NSE Stock Market.
- The price that investors pay for mutual fund shares is the fund's per share net asset value (NAV) plus any shareholder fees that the fund imposes at the time of purchase (such as sales loads).
- Mutual fund shares are "redeemable," meaning investors can sell their shares back to the fund (or to a broker acting for the fund).
- Mutual funds generally create and sell new shares to accommodate new investors. In other words, they sell their shares on a continuous basis, although some funds stop selling when, for example, they become too large.
- The investment portfolios of mutual funds typically are managed by separate entities known as "investment advisers" that are registered with the AMFI.
Different types of Funds
- When it comes to investing in mutual funds, investors have literally thousands of choices. Before you invest in any given fund, decide whether the investment strategy and risks of the fund are a good fit for you. The first step to successful investing is figuring out your financial goals and risk tolerance ? either on your own or with the help of a financial professional. Once you know what you're saving for, when you'll need the money, and how much risk you can tolerate, you can more easily narrow your choices.
- Most mutual funds fall into one of three main categories ? money market funds, bond funds (also called "fixed income" funds), and stock funds (also called "equity" funds). Each type has different features and different risks and rewards. Generally, the higher the potential return, the higher the risk of loss.
Money Market Funds
- Money market funds have relatively low risks, compared to other mutual funds (and most other investments). By law, they can invest in only certain high-quality, short-term investments issued by the Indian government, Indian corporations, and state and local governments. Money market funds try to keep their net asset value (NAV) ? which represents the value of one share in a fund ? at a stable Rs 10.00 per share. But the NAV may fall below Rs. 10.00 if the fund's investments perform poorly. Investor losses have been rare, but they are possible.
- Money market funds pay dividends that generally reflect short-term interest rates, and historically the returns for money market funds have been lower than for either bond or stock funds. That's why "inflation risk" ? the risk that inflation will outpace and erode investment returns over time ? can be a potential concern for investors in money market funds.
- Bond funds generally have higher risks than money market funds, largely because they typically pursue strategies aimed at producing higher yields. Unlike money market funds, the AMFI's rules do not restrict bond funds to high-quality or short-term investments. Because there are many different types of bonds, bond funds can vary dramatically in their risks and rewards. Some of the risks associated with bond funds include:
- Credit Risk ? the possibility that companies or other issuers whose bonds are owned by the fund may fail to pay their debts (including the debt owed to holders of their bonds). Credit risk is less of a factor for bond funds that invest in insured bonds or U.S. Treasury bonds. By contrast, those that invest in the bonds of companies with poor credit ratings generally will be subject to higher risk.
- Interest Rate Risk ? the risk that the market value of the bonds will go down when interest rates go up. Because of this, you can lose money in any bond fund, including those that invest only in insured bonds or Treasury bonds. Funds that invest in longer-term bonds tend to have higher interest rate risk.
- Prepayment Risk ? the chance that a bond will be paid off early. For example, if interest rates fall, a bond issuer may decide to pay off (or "retire") its debt and issue new bonds that pay a lower rate. When this happens, the fund may not be able to reinvest the proceeds in an investment with as high a return or yield.
- Although a stock fund's value can rise and fall quickly (and dramatically) over the short term, historically stocks have performed better over the long term than other types of investments ? including corporate bonds, government bonds, and treasury securities.
- Overall "market risk" poses the greatest potential danger for investors in stocks funds. Stock prices can fluctuate for a broad range of reasons ? such as the overall strength of the economy or demand for particular products or services.
- Not all stock funds are the same. For example:
- Growth funds focus on stocks that may not pay a regular dividend but have the potential for large capital gains.
- Income funds invest in stocks that pay regular dividends.
- Index funds aim to achieve the same return as a particular market index, such as the S&P 500 Composite Stock Price Index, by investing in all ? or perhaps a representative sample ? of the companies included in an index.
- Sector funds may specialize in a particular industry segment, such as technology or consumer products stocks.
Tax benefit in mutual funds
Debt FundsIndividuals12.50% + surchargeCorporates20.00% + surchargeEffective tax rate is much lower than on interest of bank FD for higher tax bracket Individuals and Corporate investors
- Dividends Tax Free in the hands of investors for all type of MF schemes
- There will be Dividend Distribution Tax
- Dividend Tax Free for all Equity and Balanced schemes
Capital Gain Tax
For Equity / Balanced Funds
LT Capital Gain Tax Nil
ST Capital Gain Tax @ 10%
For Debt Funds
LT Capital Gain Tax @ 10%
ST Capital Gain Tax Tax bracket of Investors
- For Equity / Balanced Funds
- Deduction upto Rs. 1 lakh available u/s 80C for investment in ELSS from FY2005-06
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