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Mutual Fund FAQ

 What is a Mutual Fund?

A Mutual Fund is a body corporate registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), that pools up the money from individual / corporate investors and invests the same on behalf of the investors /unit holders, in equity shares, Government securities, Bonds, Call money markets etc., and distributes the profits. In other words, a mutual fund allows an investor to indirectly take a position in a basket of assets.

Which was the First Mutual Fund to be set up in India?

Unit Trust of India is the first Mutual Fund set up under a separate act, UTI Act in 1963, and started its operations in 1964 with the issue of units under the scheme US-64


Which are the other institutions that have floated Mutual Funds in India?

Currently public sector banks like SBI, Canara Bank, Bank of India, institutions like IDBI, GIC, LIC Foreign Institutions like Alliance, Morgan Stanley, Templeton and Private financial companies like Kothari Pioneer, DSP BlackRock, Sundaram, Kotak Mahindra etc. have floated their own mutual funds


How many Mutual Funds are there in India currently?

Presently there are 33 Mutual Funds in India and close to 400 mutual fund schemes. We will very soon be putting up detailed analysis of major schemes operating in India.


Why has the concept of mutual funds taken so long to pick up in India?

Even in the US the concept of mutual funds has started picking up only in the last decade. This whole process of investor education and investor awareness takes a lot of time. But Indian investors are now beginning to understand the benefits of investing through the mutual funds route and hence the collections are beginning to pick up.


What is the total size of the mutual fund sector in India?

Currently the total funds under mutual fund management in India are a little over Rs.100,000 crore. Out of this UTI accounts for nearly 70 percent while the private funds account for around 22 percent. The balance 8 percent is managed by mutual funds floated by public sector banks and financial institutions.


What is the Regulatory Body for Mutual Funds?

Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulatory body for all the mutual funds mentioned above. All the mutual funds must get registered with SEBI. The only exception is the UTI, since it is a corporation formed under a separate Act of Parliament.


Why should I choose to invest in a mutual fund?

For a retail investor who does not have the time and expertise to analyze and invest in stocks and bonds, mutual funds offer a viable investment alternative. This is because:

  • Mutual Funds provide the benefit of cheap access to expensive stocks
  • Mutual funds diversify the risk of the investor by investing in a basket of assets
  • A team of professional fund managers manages them with in-depth research inputs from investment analysts.
  • Being institutions with good bargaining power in markets, mutual funds have access to crucial corporate information which individual investors cannot access.

How do mutual funds diversify their risks?

Financial theory states that an investor can reduce his total risk by holding a portfolio of assets instead of only one asset. This is because by holding all your money in just one asset, the entire fortunes of your portfolio depend on this one asset. By creating a portfolio of a variety of assets, this risk is substantially reduced.


If that is the case then why has Morgan Stanley Fund given such poor returns?

A very important factor that determines the returns on a fund is the timing of the fund’s launch. Morgan Stanley Fund was launched when the equity markets were at their peak and then saw a sustained downtrend for close to 5 years. That is the reason the fund has taken such a long time to appreciate.


Can mutual funds be viewed as risk-free investments?

No. Mutual fund investments are not totally risk free. In fact, investing in mutual funds contains the same risk as investing in the markets, the only difference being that due to professional management of funds the controllable risks are substantially reduced.


What are the risks involved in investing in mutual funds?

A very important risk involved in mutual fund investments is the market risk. When the market is in doldrums, most of the equity funds will also experience a downturn. However, the company specific risks are largely eliminated due to professional fund management.


What are open-ended and closed-ended mutual funds?

In an open-ended mutual fund there are no limits on the total size of the corpus. Investors are permitted to enter and exit the open-ended mutual fund at any point of time at a price that is linked to the net asset value (NAV). In case of closed-ended funds, the total size of the corpus is limited by the size of the initial offer.


Do both open-ended and closed-ended funds come out with an initial offering?

Yes. But the only difference is that in case of open-ended funds, a month after the initial offer closes the continuous offer period starts when the investor can enter and exit the fund at a price linked to the NAV


Is the purchase and redemption in case of open-ended funds done at the NAV?

Generally every fund levies either an entry load or an exit load or both to provide for administrative and other routine costs. The purchase price will be higher than the NAV to the extent of the entry load and the redemption price will be lower than the NAV to the extent of the exit load.


What is the investor’s exit route in case of a closed-ended fund?

According to Sebi regulations, all closed-ended funds have to be necessarily listed on a recognized stock exchange. Thus the secondary market provides an exit route in case of closed-ended funds.


How do I invest money in Mutual Funds?

One can invest by approaching a registered broker of Mutual funds or the respective offices of the Mutual funds in that particular town/city. An application form has to be filled up giving all the particulars along with the cheque or Demand Draft for the amount to be invested.


What are the parameters on which a Mutual Fund scheme should be evaluated?

Performance indicators like total returns given by the fund on different schemes, the returns on competing funds, the objective of the fund and the promoters image are some of the key factors to be considered while taking an investment decision regarding mutual funds.


What are the different types of Mutual funds?

On the basis of Objective

Funds that invest in equity shares are called equity funds. They carry the principal objective of capital appreciation of the investment over the medium to long-term. The returns in such funds are volatile since they are directly linked to the stock markets. They are best suited for investors who are seeking capital appreciation. There are different types of equity funds such as Diversified funds, Sector specific funds and Index based funds.

These funds invest in companies spread across sectors. These funds are generally meant for risk-taking investors who are not bullish about any particular sector.


These funds invest primarily in equity shares of companies in a particular business sector or industry. These funds are targeted at investors who are extremely bullish about a particular sector.

These funds invest in the same pattern as popular market indices like S&P 500 and BSE Index. The value of the index fund varies in proportion to the benchmark index.

These funds offer tax benefits to investors under the Income Tax Act. Opportunities provided under this scheme are in the form of tax rebates U/s 88 as well saving in Capital Gains U/s 54EA and 54EB. They are best suited for investors seeking tax concessions.

These Funds invest predominantly in high-rated fixed-income-bearing instruments like bonds, debentures, government securities, commercial paper and other money market instruments. They are best suited for the medium to long-term investors who are averse to risk and seek capital preservation. They provide regular income and safety to the investor.

These funds invest in highly liquid money market instruments. The period of investment could be as short as a day. They provide easy liquidity. They have emerged as an alternative for savings and short-term fixed deposit accounts with comparatively higher returns. These funds are ideal for Corporates, institutional investors and business houses who invest their funds for very short periods.

These funds invest in Central and State Government securities. Since they are Government backed bonds they give a secured return and also ensure safety of the principal amount. They are best suited for the medium to long-term investors who are averse to risk.

These funds invest both in equity shares and fixed-income-bearing instruments (debt) in some proportion. They provide a steady return and reduce the volatility of the fund while providing some upside for capital appreciation. They are ideal for medium- to long-term investors willing to take moderate risks.

What are the different types of plans that any mutual fund scheme offers?

That depends on the strategy of the concerned scheme. But generally there are 3 broad categories. A dividend plan entails a regular payment of dividend to the investors. A reinvestment plan is a plan where these dividends are reinvested in the scheme itself. A growth plan is one where no dividends are declared and the investor only gains through capital appreciation in the NAV of the fund.


Which plan should I choose?

It depends on your investment object, which again depends on your income, age, financial responsibilities, risk taking capacity and tax status. For example a retired government employee is most likely to opt for monthly income plan while a high-income youngster is most likely to opt for growth plan.


What is a Systematic Investment Plan and how does it operate?

A systematic investment plan is one where an investor contributes a fixed amount every month and at the prevailing NAV the units are credited to his account. Today many funds are offering this facility.


What are the benefits of  Systematic Investment Plan?

A systematic investment plan (SIP) offers 2 major benefits to an investor:

  • It avoids lump sum investment at one point of time
  • In a scenario of falling prices, it reduces your overall cost of acquisition by a process of rupee-cost averaging. This means that at lower prices you end up getting more units for the same investment

What is NAV and how it is calculated?

NAV is the net asset value of the fund. Simply put it reflects what the unit held by an investor is worth at current market prices.


What proportion of my investment should be invested in mutual funds?

Once again this decision will depend on factors like your income, risk aversion and tax status.


Like IPOs, can there be any situation wherein I am not allotted the units applied for in the initial offer?

In case of closed-ended funds there is a target amount and the funds are permitted a green-shoe option to retain over-subscriptions up to a certain limit. In case of open-ended funds there are no such limits and all applications are honored.


Can a Mutual Fund assure fixed returns?

As per Sebi Regulations, mutual funds are not allowed to assure returns. However, funds floated by AMCs of public sector banks and financial institutions were permitted to assure returns to the unitholders provided the parent sponsor was willing to give an explicit guarantee to honor such a commitment. But in general, mutual funds cannot assure fixed returns to their investors.


How much return can I expect by investing in mutual funds?

Investors need to be clear that mutual funds are essentially medium to long term investments. Hence, short-term abnormal profits will not be sustainable in the long run. But in the medium to long run the mutual funds tend to outperform most other avenues of investments at the same time avoiding the risk of direct investment accompanied with professional fund management.


What are the types of returns one can expect from a Mutual Fund?

Mutual Funds give returns in two ways - Capital Appreciation or Dividend Distribution.

A. Capital Appreciation : An increase in the value of the units of the fund is known as capital appreciation. As the value of individual securities in the fund increases, the fund`s unit price increases. An investor can book a profit by selling the units at prices higher than the price at which he bought the units.

B. Dividend Distribution: The profit earned by the fund is distributed among unit holders in the form of dividends. Dividend distribution again is of two types. It can either be re-invested in the fund or can be on paid to the investor.


What is the difference between mutual funds and portfolio management schemes?

While the concept remains the same of collecting money from investors, pooling them and investing the funds, the target investors are different. In the case of portfolio management the target investors are high networth investors while in case of mutual funds the target investors are the retail investors.


How does the concept of entry load work in case of unit purchases?

An entry load is an additional cost that an investor pays at the point of entry. Assume that your proposed investment is Rs.10,000/-. Also assume that the current NAV of the fund is Rs.12.00 and that the entry load is Rs.0.50. Then you will receive 10000/12.50 = 800 units.


How does the concept of exit load work in case of unit redemptions?

An exit load is levy that an investor pays at the point of exit. This is levied to dissuade investors from exiting the fund. Assume that the current NAV of the fund is Rs.12.00 and that the exit load is Rs.0.50. Now if you sell 800 units then you stand to receive 800X11.5 = Rs. 9200.


Can an investor redeem part of the units?

Yes. One can redeem part units also.


Say I redeem and buy and do likewise several times then, how do I keep track of my portfolio?

The moment you buy or get allotted the units, a passbook will be given to you mentioning the number of units allotted/bought and redeemed by you. The recording of entries would be similar to your pass book entries in the bank. In mutual fund terminology it is called Account Statement.


What are the broad guidelines issued for a MF?

SEBI is the regulatory authority of MFs. SEBI has the following broad guidelines pertaining to mutual funds :

  • MFs should be formed as a Trust under Indian Trust Act and should be operated by Asset Management Companies (AMCs).
  • MFs need to set up a Board of Trustees and Trustee Companies. They should also have their Board of Directors.
  • The net worth of the AMCs should be at least Rs.5 crore.
  • AMCs and Trustees of a MF should be two separate and distinct legal entities.
  • The AMC or any of its companies cannot act as managers for any other fund.
  • AMCs have to get the approval of SEBI for its Articles and Memorandum of Association.
  • All MF schemes should be registered with SEBI.
  • MFs should distribute minimum of 90% of their profits among the investors.

There are other guidelines also that govern investment strategy, disclosure norms and advertising code for mutual funds.


Am I eligible for rebate on income tax by investing in a MF?

Yes in case of certain specific Equity Linked Saving Schemes, tax benefits are available under Section 88 of the Income Tax Act. In such cases the fund prospectuses explicitly states that it is a tax saving fund. In such cases 20 percent of your contribution will qualify for rebate under Section 88 of the Income Tax Act.


Do investments in mutual funds offer tax benefit on capital gains?

Yes. If the capital gains earned by you during a financial year is invested in specified mutual funds then such capital gains are exempt from capital gains tax under Section 54EA and Section 54EB of the Income Tax Act


Can I claim tax exemption under Section 88 and Section 54 for the same investment?

No. You cannot. You can either exempt your income from tax under Section 88 or exempt your capital gains from tax under Section 54.


Do mutual fund investments attract wealth tax?

No. Under the Wealth Tax Act, all financial assets, including mutual fund units are exempt totally from Wealth Tax.


If I gift mutual fund units, does it attract gift tax?

No. With effect from 1st October 1998, units of a mutual fund gifted by unitholders are no longer chargeable to Gift Tax.


Is my income from mutual funds exempt from income tax?

Yes. Your income from mutual funds in the form of dividends is entirely exempt from income tax provided the fund in question is a equity/growth fund where more than 50 percent of the portfolio is invested in equities.


What are my major rights as a unitholder in a mutual fund?

Some important rights are mentioned below:

  • Unit holders have a proportionate right in the beneficial ownership of the assets of the scheme and to the dividend declared.
  • They are entitled to receive dividend warrants within 42 days of the date of declaration of the dividend.
  • They are entitled to receive redemption cheques within 10 working days from the date of redemption.
  • 75% of the unit holders with the prior approval of SEBI can terminate AMC of the fund.
    • 75% of the unit holders can pass a resolution to wind-up the scheme.