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Thread: FAQ on Mutual Fund

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    Exclamation FAQ on Mutual Fund

    What is a Mutual Fund?

    A mutual fund is a pool of money contributed by individuals who have similar financial goals. The money collected is then invested in various securities such as equities, debentures/bonds and/or money market instruments.

    What is a fund house/family?

    A group of funds managed under one umbrella. The most basic fund family would include a stock, bond and money market-portfolio, although many funds have variants like sector funds, balanced funds.

    What is Net Asset Value (NAV) of a scheme?

    The performance of a particular scheme of a mutual fund is denoted by Net Asset Value (NAV).

    Mutual funds invest the money collected from the investors in securities markets. In simple words, Net Asset Value is the market value of the securities held by the scheme. Since market value of securities changes every day, NAV of a scheme also varies on day to day basis. The NAV per unit is the market value of securities of a scheme divided by the total number of units of the scheme on any particular date. NAV is required to be disclosed by the mutual funds on a regular basis - daily or weekly - depending on the type of scheme.

    What is load?

    It is a charge collected by a mutual fund when it sells units. It can be either front-end load (i.e., the charge is collected when an investor buys the units) or back-end load (i.e, the charge collected when the investor sells back the units). Some schemes do not charge any load and are called No Load Schemes


    What is a contingent deferred sales charge (or CDSC)?

    A back-end load imposed on an investor if he exits from the fund before a pre-determined period (say 3 months). The charges decline the longer an investor stays invested with a fund.

    What are a fundís net assets?

    The total value of a fund's cash and securities less its liabilities or obligations.

    What is a Portfolio?

    A portfolio comprises of investments in a variety of securities and asset classes. This diversification reduces the overall risk. The portfolio risk depends on the nature of each investment in the portfolio and the overall impact (favourable or unfavourable) of the various risk factors on each security. A mutual fund scheme states the kind of portfolio it seeks to construct as well as the risks involved under each asset class.

    Who is a custodian?

    The custodian, an independent organisation, has the physical possession of all securities purchased by the mutual fund, and undertakes responsibility for its handling and safekeeping. For instance, the Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd (SCHIL) is the custodian for most fund houses in the country.

    Who is a registrar?

    A Registrar holds and maintains the details of the transactions carried out by each Unitholder in a Mutual Fund scheme. He is appointed by the AMC to serve the Unitholder for the purchases, sales or switching of Units that he may carry out. The dividend distribution, recording of nominations or transfers are some other services rendered by the Registrar. He may also have Investor Service Centres in various cities, where an investor can get over-the-counter service.


    What is an Asset Management Company (AMC)?

    A highly regulated organisation that pools money from many people into a portfolio structured to achieve certain objectives. Hence it is termed as an Asset Management Company. Typically an AMC manages several funds - open-end /closed-end across several categories - growth, income, balanced. Every mutual fund has an AMC associated with it.

    What is an ex-dividend date?

    Normally, one business day after the record date. Investors purchasing unit on or after the ex-dividend date are not entitled to collect dividends or bonus units. The NAV falls by the amount of the dividend distributed and/or bonus issued. The terms ex-bonus and ex-dividend often are used synonymously.

    For instance, if the record date for dividend is 20 January, then investors who donít have their names in the list of unitholders as on that day, will not receive dividend. This works very similar to dividend and bonus declarations in the case of stocks.

    How does one calculate the expense ratio for a fund?

    The expense ratio for a fund is the annual expenses of a fund (at the end of the financial year), including the management fee, administrative costs, divided by the number of units on that day.


    What is a daily dividend fund?

    A fund (money-market or bond) that calculates dividends daily, paying out or reinvesting the same.

    What is an Initial public offering (IPO)?

    The sale of a company's shares or a fund houseís mutual fund to investors for the first time.

    What is an asset management fee?

    The fee charged by the asset management company (AMC) for portfolio management. The fee charged on an annual basis is calculated as percentage of net assets under management.


    Where do the Mutual Funds invest?

    Mutual Funds invest basically in three types of asset classes. These include:

    Stocks: Stocks represent ownership or equity in a company. This asset class has historically outperformed all other asset classes over the long-term but tends to be more volatile in the short-term.
    Debt Instruments: This represents debt papers of corporate and government agencies. They provide income in the form of interest payments and principal if held till maturity. There can be price volatility due to interest rate movements as well as economic and political instability.
    Money Market Instruments: These are inter-bank Call Money, Commercial Paper, Treasury Bills, Certificates of Deposit (CDs), Bill Rediscounting and short-term bonds. They pay interest and are the least volatile of all the asset classes.


    What are the different types of mutual fund schemes?

    By scheme type

    A mutual fund scheme can be classified into open-ended scheme or close-ended scheme depending on its maturity period.

    Open-ended Fund/ Scheme
    An open-ended fund or scheme is one that is available for subscription and repurchase on a continuous basis. These schemes do not have a fixed maturity period. Investors can conveniently buy and sell units at Net Asset Value (NAV) related prices which are declared on a daily basis. The key feature of open-end schemes is liquidity.

    Close-ended Fund/ Scheme
    A close-ended fund or scheme has a stipulated maturity period e.g. 5-7 years. The fund is open for subscription only during a specified period at the time of launch of the scheme. Investors can invest in the scheme at the time of the initial public issue and thereafter they can buy or sell the units of the scheme on the stock exchanges where the units are listed. In order to provide an exit route to the investors, some close-ended funds give an option of selling back the units to the mutual fund through periodic repurchase at NAV related prices. SEBI Regulations stipulate that at least one of the two exit routes is provided to the investor i.e. either repurchase facility or through listing on stock exchanges. These mutual funds schemes disclose NAV generally on weekly basis.

    By Investment Objective:

    A scheme can also be classified as growth scheme, income scheme, or balanced scheme considering its investment objective. Such schemes may be open-ended or close-ended schemes as described earlier. Such schemes may be classified mainly as follows:

    Growth / Equity Oriented Scheme
    The aim of growth funds is to provide capital appreciation over the medium to long- term. Such schemes normally invest a major part of their corpus in equities. Such funds have comparatively high risks. These schemes provide different options to the investors like dividend option, capital appreciation, etc. and the investors may choose an option depending on their preferences. The investors must indicate the option in the application form. The mutual funds also allow the investors to change the options at a later date. Growth schemes are good for investors having a long-term outlook seeking appreciation over a period of time.

    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.

    Balanced Fund
    The aim of balanced funds is to provide both growth and regular income as such schemes invest both in equities and fixed income securities in the proportion indicated in their offer documents. These are appropriate for investors looking for moderate growth. They generally invest 40-60% in equity and debt instruments. These funds are also affected because of fluctuations in share prices in the stock markets. However, NAVs of such funds are likely to be less volatile compared to pure equity funds.



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    Money Market or Liquid Fund
    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.

    Gilt Fund
    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 is the case with income or debt oriented schemes.

    Index Funds
    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 weightage 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.

    Specialised Schemes:These include Sector Funds that invest in a particular industry like Pharmaceuticals, Infotech, Petrochemicals etc. There are also some special funds targeted at a particular class of investors like women and children.
    What are sector specific funds/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.

    What are 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.

    What is a Load or no-load Fund?

    A Load Fund is one that charges a percentage of NAV for entry or exit. That is, each time one buys or sells units in the fund, a charge will be payable. This charge is used by the mutual fund for marketing and distribution expenses. Suppose the NAV per unit is Rs.10. If the entry as well as exit load charged is 1%, then the investors who buy would be required to pay Rs.10.10 and those who offer their units for repurchase to the mutual fund will get only Rs.9.90 per unit. The investors should take the loads into consideration while making investment as these affect their yields/returns. However, the investors should also consider the performance track record and service standards of the mutual fund which are more important. Efficient funds may give higher returns in spite of loads.

    A no-load fund is one that does not charge for entry or exit. It means the investors can enter the fund/scheme at NAV and no additional charges are payable on purchase or sale of units.

    What is a sales or repurchase/redemption price?

    The price or NAV a unitholder is charged while investing in an open-ended scheme is called sales price. It may include sales load, if applicable.

    Repurchase or redemption price is the price or NAV at which an open-ended scheme purchases or redeems its units from the unitholders. It may include exit load, if applicable.


    What are the different plans that mutual funds offer?

    Mutual Funds in order to cater to a range of investors, have various investment plans. Some of the important investment plans include:

    Growth Plan
    Under the Growth Plan, the investor realises only the capital appreciation on the investment (by an increase in NAV) and does not get any income in the form of dividend.

    Income Plan
    Under the Income Plan, the investor realises income in the form of dividend. However his NAV will fall to the extent of the dividend.

    Dividend Re-investment Plan
    Here the dividend accrued on mutual funds is automatically re-invested in purchasing additional units in open-ended funds. In most cases mutual funds offer the investor an option of collecting dividends or re-investing the same.

    Systematic Investment Plan (SIP)
    Here the investor is given the option of preparing a pre-determined number of post-dated cheques in favour of the fund. He will get units on the date of the cheque at the existing NAV. For instance, if on 25th March, he has given a post-dated cheque for June 25th, he will get units on 25th June at existing NAV.

    Systematic Withdrawal Plan
    As opposed to the Systematic Investment Plan, the Systematic Withdrawal Plan allows the investor the facility to withdraw a pre-determined amount/units from his fund at a pre-determined interval. The investorís units will be redeemed at the existing NAV as on that day.

    Retirement Pension Plan
    Some schemes are linked with retirement pension. Individuals participate in these plans for themselves, and corporates for their employees.

    Insurance Plan
    Some schemes launched by UTI and LIC offer insurance cover to investors.



    What is a Systematic Withdrawal Plan?

    The unitholder may set up a Systematic Withdrawal Plan on a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual or annual basis to:

    Redeem a fixed number of units
    Redeem enough units to provide a fixed amount of money
    What risks is one exposed to while investing in mutual funds?

    Market risk
    If the overall stock or bond markets fall on account of macro economic factors, the value of stock or bond holdings in the fund's portfolio can drop thereby impacting the NAV.

    Non-market risk
    Bad news about an individual company can pull down its stock price, which can affect, negatively, funds holding a large quantity of that stock. This risk can be reduced by having a diversified portfolio that consists of a wide variety of stocks drawn from different industries.

    Interest rate risk
    Bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall and this decline in underlying securities affects the NAV negatively. The extent of the negative impact is dependant on factors such as maturity profile, liquidity etc.

    Credit risk
    Bonds are debt obligations. So when the funds invest in corporate bonds, they run the risk of the corporates defaulting on their interest payment and the principal payment obligations and when that risk crystallises it leads to a fall in the value of the bond causing the NAV of the fund to take a beating.

    Inflation risk


    What is an assured return scheme?

    Assured return schemes are those schemes that assure a specific return to the unitholders irrespective of performance of the scheme.

    A scheme cannot promise returns unless such returns are fully guaranteed by the sponsor or AMC and this is required to be disclosed in the offer document.

    Investors should carefully read the offer document whether return is assured for the entire period of the scheme or only for a certain period. Some schemes assure returns one year at a time and they review and change it at the beginning of the next year.

    Can a mutual fund change the asset allocation while deploying funds of investors?

    Considering the market trends, any prudent fund managers can change the asset allocation i.e. he can invest higher or lower percentage of the fund in equity or debt instruments compared to what is disclosed in the offer document. It can be done on a short term basis on defensive considerations i.e. to protect the NAV. Hence the fund managers are allowed certain flexibility in altering the asset allocation considering the interest of the investors. In case the mutual fund wants to change the asset allocation on a permanent basis, they are required to inform the unitholders and giving them option to exit the scheme at prevailing NAV without any load.

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    How to invest in a scheme of a mutual fund?

    Mutual funds normally come out with an advertisement in newspapers publishing the date of launch of the new schemes. Investors can also contact the agents and distributors of mutual funds who are spread all over the country for necessary information and application forms. Forms can be deposited with mutual funds through the agents and distributors who provide such services. Now a days, the post offices and banks also distribute the units of mutual funds. However, the investors may please note that the mutual funds schemes being marketed by banks and post offices should not be taken as their own schemes and no assurance of returns is given by them. The only role of banks and post offices is to help in distribution of mutual funds schemes to the investors.

    Investors should not be carried away by commission/gifts given by agents/distributors for investing in a particular scheme. On the other hand they must consider the track record of the mutual fund and should take objective decisions.

    Can non-resident Indians (NRIs) invest in mutual funds?

    Yes, non-resident Indians can also invest in mutual funds. Necessary details in this respect are given in the offer documents of the schemes.

    How much should one invest in debt or equity oriented schemes?

    An investor should take into account his risk taking capacity, age factor, financial position, etc. As already mentioned, the schemes invest in different type of securities as disclosed in the offer documents and offer different returns and risks. Investors may also consult financial experts before taking decisions. Agents and distributors may also help in this regard.

    What should an investor look into an offer document?

    An abridged offer document, which contains very useful information, is required to be given to the prospective investor by the mutual fund. The application form for subscription to a scheme is an integral part of the offer document. SEBI has prescribed minimum disclosures in the offer document. An investor, before investing in a scheme, should carefully read the offer document. Due care must be given to portions relating to main features of the scheme, risk factors, initial issue expenses and recurring expenses to be charged to the scheme, entry or exit loads, sponsorís track record, educational qualification and work experience of key personnel including fund managers, performance of other schemes launched by the mutual fund in the past, pending litigations and penalties imposed, etc.

    When will the investor get certificate or statement of account after investing in a mutual fund?

    Mutual funds are required to dispatch certificates or statements of accounts within six weeks from the date of closure of the initial subscription of the scheme. In case of close-ended schemes, the investors would get either a demat account statement or unit certificates as these are traded in the stock exchanges. In case of open-ended schemes, a statement of account is issued by the mutual fund within 30 days from the date of closure of initial public offer of the scheme. The procedure of repurchase is mentioned in the offer document.

    How to know the performance of a mutual fund scheme?

    The performance of a scheme is reflected in its net asset value (NAV) which is disclosed on daily basis in case of open-ended schemes and on weekly basis in case of close-ended schemes. The NAVs of mutual funds are required to be published in newspapers. The NAVs are also available on the web sites of mutual funds.

    The mutual funds are also required to publish their performance in the form of half-yearly results which also include their returns/yields over a period of time i.e. last six months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and since inception of schemes. The mutual funds are also required to send annual report or abridged annual report to the unitholders at the end of the year.

    Investors can compare the performance of their schemes with those of other mutual funds under the same category. They can also compare the performance of equity oriented schemes with the benchmarks like BSE Sensitive Index, S&P CNX Nifty, etc.

    On the basis of performance of the mutual funds, the investors should decide when to enter or exit from a mutual fund scheme.

    How to know where the mutual fund scheme has invested money mobilised from the investors?

    The mutual funds are required to disclose full portfolios of all of their schemes on half-yearly basis which are published in the newspapers. Some mutual funds send the portfolios to their unitholders.

    The scheme portfolio shows investment made in each security i.e. equity, debentures, money market instruments, government securities, etc. and their quantity, market value and % to NAV. These portfolio statements also required to disclose illiquid securities in the portfolio, investment made in rated and unrated debt securities, non-performing assets (NPAs), etc.

    Some of the mutual funds send newsletters to the unitholders on quarterly basis which also contain portfolios of the schemes.

    Is there any difference between investing in a mutual fund and in an initial public offering (IPO) of a company?

    Yes, there is a difference. IPOs of companies may open at lower or higher price than the issue price depending on market sentiment and perception of investors. However, in the case of mutual funds, the par value of the units may not rise or fall immediately after allotment. A mutual fund scheme takes some time to make investment in securities. NAV of the scheme depends on the value of securities in which the funds have been deployed.

    What is a Switching Facility?

    Switching facility provides investors with an option to transfer the funds amongst different types of schemes or plans.

    Investors can opt to switch units between Dividend Plan and Growth Plan at NAV based prices. Switching is also allowed into/from other select open-ended schemes currently within the Fund family or schemes that may be launched in the future at NAV based prices


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