Concept of Mutual Fund
The flow chart below describes broadly the working of a mutual fund:
How does a Mutual fund work?
A Mutual Fund is a trust that pools the savings of a number of investors who share common financial goal, investments may be in shares, debt securities, money market securities or a combination of these. Those securities are professionally managed on behalf of the unit-holders, and each investor holds a pro-rata share of the portfolio i.e. entitled to any profits when the securities are sold, but subject to any losses in value as well.
The income earned through these investments and the capital appreciation realized are shared by its unit holders in proportion to the number of units owned by them. Thus a Mutual Fund is the most suitable investment for the common man as it offers an opportunity to invest in a diversified, professionally managed basket of securities at a relatively low cost.
Mutual Funds in India are governed by the SEBI (Mutual Fund) Regulations 1996 as amended from time to time. For further details please visit the SEBI website http://www.sebi.gov.in
Organization of Mutual Fund:
The structure consists of:
Sponsor is the person who acting alone or in combination with another body corporate establishes a mutual fund. Sponsor must contribute at least 40% of the net worth of the Investment Managed and meet the eligibility criteria prescribed under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996.The Sponsor is not responsible or liable for any loss or shortfall resulting from the operation of the Schemes beyond the initial contribution made by it towards setting up of the Mutual Fund.
The Mutual Fund is constituted as a trust in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 by the Sponsor. The trust deed is registered under the Indian Registration Act, 1908.
Trustee is usually a company (corporate body) or a Board of Trustees (body of individuals). The main responsibility of the Trustee is to safeguard the interest of the unit holders and inter alias ensure that the AMC functions in the interest of investors and in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, the provisions of the Trust Deed and the offer documents of the respective Schemes. At least 2/3rd directors of the Trustee are independent directors who are not associated with the sponsor in any manner.
Asset Management Company (AMC):
The Trustee as the Investment Manager of the Mutual Fund appoints the AMC. The AMC is required to be approved by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to act as an asset management company of the Mutual Fund. At least 50% of the directors of the AMC are independent directors who are not associated with the Sponsor in any manner. The AMC must have a net worth of at least 50 crores at all times.
Registrar and Transfer Agent:
The AMC if so authorized by the Trust Deed appoints the Registrar and Transfer Agent to the Mutual Fund. The Registrar processes the application form; redemption requests and dispatches account statements to the unit holders. The Registrar and Transfer agent also handles communications with investors and updates investor records.
Types of Mutual Fund:
Equity Oriented Schemes:
These schemes, also commonly called Growth Schemes, seek to invest a majority of their funds in equities and a small portion in money market instruments. Such schemes have the potential to deliver superior returns over the long term. However, because they invest in equities, these schemes are exposed to fluctuations in value especially in the short term.
Equity schemes are hence not suitable for investors seeking regular income or needing to use their investments in the short-term. They are ideal for investors who have a long-term investment horizon. The NAV prices of equity fund fluctuates with market value of the underlying stock which are influenced by external factors such as social, political as well as economic.
Index Funds replicate the portfolio of a particular index such as the BSE Sensitive index, S&P NSE 50 index (Nifty), etc. these schemes invest in the securities in the same weight age comprising of an index. NAVs of such schemes would rise or fall in accordance with the rise or fall in the index, though not exactly by the same percentage due to some factors known as "tracking error" in technical terms. Necessary disclosures in this regard are made in the offer document of the mutual fund scheme.
There are also exchange traded index funds launched by the mutual funds, which are traded on the stock exchanges.
Sector Specific Schemes:
These are the funds/schemes, which invest in the securities of only those sectors or industries as specified in the offer documents. e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Software, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Petroleum stocks, etc. The returns in these funds are dependent on the performance of the respective sectors/industries. While these funds may give higher returns, they are more risky compared to diversified funds. Investors need to keep a watch on the performance of those sectors/industries and must exit at an appropriate time. They may also seek advice of an expert.
Tax Saving Schemes:
These schemes offer tax rebates to the investors under specific provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 as the Government offers tax incentives for investment in specified avenues. e.g. Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS). Pension schemes launched by the mutual funds also offer tax benefits. These schemes are growth oriented and invest pre-dominantly in equities. Their growth opportunities and risks associated are like any equity-oriented scheme.
Income/Debt Oriented Scheme:
The aim of income funds is to provide regular and steady income to investors. Such schemes generally invest in fixed income securities such as bonds, corporate debentures, Government securities and money market instruments. Such funds are less risky compared to equity schemes. These funds are not affected because of fluctuations in equity markets. However, opportunities of capital appreciation are also limited in such funds. The NAVs of such funds are affected because of change in interest rates in the country. If the interest rates fall, NAVs of such funds are likely to increase in the short run and vice versa. However, long term investors may not bother about these fluctuations.
These schemes are commonly known as balanced schemes. These schemes invest in both equities as well as debt. By investing in a mix of this nature, balanced schemes seek to attain the objective of income and moderate capital appreciation and are ideal for investors with a conservative, long-term orientation. Balanced Fund and Gift Fund are examples of hybrid schemes.
Money Market/Liquid Schemes:
These funds are also income funds and their aim is to provide easy liquidity, preservation of capital and moderate income. These schemes invest exclusively in safer short-term instruments such as treasury bills, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and inter-bank call money, government securities, etc. Returns on these schemes fluctuate much less compared to other funds. These funds are appropriate for corporate and individual investors as a means to park their surplus funds for short periods.
These funds invest exclusively in government securities. Government securities have no default risk. NAVs of these schemes also fluctuate due to change in interest rates and other economic factors as are the case with income or debt oriented schemes.
Arbitrage is one of the most effective ways to insulate against market volatility. An arbitrage fund buys equities in the cash market and simultaneously sells in the futures market, thus ensuring market neutrality for the investment. In other words, it is a unique asset class by itself where returns are generated by capturing the pricing differential between the cash and the futures markets. It is also termed as a market-neutral fund where the returns are not going to be impacted by volatility in the market.
For any arbitrage fund, the following market conditions are beneficial -- a bullish market and a volatile market. While the fund performs very well in bullish markets, a volatile market gives it opportunities for early exit, thus enhancing the overall yield of the portfolio. However, a prolonged bear phase is not an ideal situation for this kind of product.