Everyone who has a particular financial goal, be it short-term or long-term, should consider investing in mutual funds. Investing in mutual funds is an excellent way to accomplish your goals faster. There are mutual fund plans that suit all personas. Investors need to assess their risk profile, investment horizon, and goals before getting started with their mutual fund investment. For example, if you are risk-averse and planning to purchase a car in five years, then you may consider investing in gilt funds. If you are ready to take some risk and are planning to buy a house in a period of fifteen to twenty years, then you may consider investing in equity funds. If your investment horizon is less than two years and you are looking to earn higher returns than a regular savings bank account, then you may consider parking your surplus funds in a liquid fund.
Investing in mutual funds provides several advantages for investors. To name a few, flexibility, diversification, and expert management of money, make mutual funds an ideal investment option.
Investment Handled by Experts ( Fund Managers ) Fund managers manage the investments pooled by asset management companies (AMCs) or fund houses. These are finance professionals who have an excellent track record of managing investment portfolios. Furthermore, fund managers are backed by a team of analysts and experts who pick the best-performing stocks and assets that have the potential to provide excellent returns for investors in the long run.
No Lock-in Period Most mutual funds come with no lock-in period. In investments, the lock-in period is a period over which the investments once made cannot be withdrawn. Some investments allow premature withdrawals within the lock-in period in exchange for a penalty. Most mutual funds are open-ended, and they come with varying exit loads on redemption. Only ELSS mutual funds come with a lock-in period.
Low Cost Investing in mutual funds comes at a low cost, and thereby making it suitable for small investors. Mutual fund houses or asset management companies (AMCs) levy a small amount referred to as the expense ratio on investors to manage their investments. It generally ranges between 0.5% to 1.5% of the total amount invested. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEB) has mandated the expense ratio to be under 2.5%.
SIP ( Systematic Investment Plan ) The most significant advantage of investing in mutual funds is that you can invest a small amount regularly via a SIP (systematic investment plan). The frequency of your SIP can be monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually, as per your comfort. Also, you can decide the ticket size of your SIP. However, it cannot be less than the minimum investible amount. You can initiate or terminate a SIP as and when you need. Investing via SIPs alleviates the need to arrange for a lump sum to get started with your mutual fund investment. You can stagger your investments over time with a SIP, and this gives you the benefit of rupee cost averaging in the long run.
Switch Fund Option If you would like to move your investments to a different fund of the same fund house, then you have an option to switch your investments to that fund from your existing fund. A good investor knows when to enter and exit a particular fund. In case you see another fund having the potential to outperform the market or your investment objective changes and is in line with that of the new fund, then you can initiate the switch option.
Goal-Based Funds Individuals invest their hard-earned money with the view of meeting specific financial goals. Mutual funds provide fund plans that help investors meet all their financial goals, be it short-term or long-term. There are mutual fund schemes that suit every individual’s risk profile, investment horizon, and style of investments. Therefore, you have to assess your profile and risk-taking abilities carefully so that you can pick the most suitable fund plan.
Diversification Unlike stocks, mutual funds invest across asset classes and shares of several companies, thereby providing you with the benefit of diversification. Also, this reduces the concentration risk to a great extent. If one asset class fails to perform up to the expectations, then the other asset classes would make up for the losses. Therefore, investors need not worry about market volatility as the diversified portfolio would provide some stability.
Flexibility Mutual funds are buzzing these days because they provide the much-needed flexibility to the investors, which most investment options lack in. The combination of investing via a SIP and no lock-in period has made mutual funds an even more lucrative investment option. This means that people may consider investing in mutual funds to accumulate an emergency fund. Also, you can enter and exit a mutual fund plan at any time, which may not be the case with most other investment options. It is for this reason that millennials are preferring mutual funds over any other investment vehicle.
Liquidity Since most mutual funds come with no lock-in period, it provides investors with a high degree of liquidity. This makes it easier for the investor to fall back on their mutual fund investment at times of financial crisis. The redemption request can be placed in just a few clicks, and the requests are processed quickly, unlike other investment options. On placing the redemption request, the fund house or the asset management company would credit your money to your bank account in just business 3-7 days.
Seamless Process Investing in mutual funds is a relatively simple process. Buying and selling of the fund units are all made at the prevailing net asset value (NAV) of the mutual fund plan. As the fund manager and his or her team of experts and analysts are tasked with choosing shares and assets, investors only need to invest, and the rest would be taken care of by the fund manager.
Regulated All mutual fund houses and mutual fund plans are always under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Reserve Bank of India(RBI). Apart from that, the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), a self-regulatory body formed by all fund houses in the country, also governs fund plans. Therefore, investors need not worry about the safety of their mutual fund investments as they are safe.
Ease of Tracking One of the most significant advantages of investing in mutual funds is that tracking investments is easy and straightforward. Fund houses understand that it is hard for investors to take some time out of their busy schedules to track their finances, and hence, they provide regular statements of their investments. This makes it a lot easier for them to track their investments and make decisions accordingly. If you invest in mutual funds via a third party, then you can also track your investments on their portal.
Tax-Saving ELSS or Equity-Linked Savings Scheme is an equity-oriented mutual fund that provides tax deductions of up to Rs 1,50,000 a year under the Section 80C provision. By making full utilization of the Section 80C limit, you can save up to Rs 46,800 a year in taxes. ELSS is the most popular tax-saving investment option under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. It comes with a lock-in period of just three years, the shortest of all tax-saving investments. Investing in ELSS provides you with the dual benefit of tax deductions and wealth accumulation over time.
Rupee Cost Averaging On investing in mutual funds via a SIP, you get the benefit of rupee cost averaging over time. When the markets fall, you buy more units while you purchase fewer units when the markets are booming. Therefore, over time, your cost of purchase of fund units is averaged out. This is called the rupee cost averaging. Investing in mutual funds via a SIP is beneficial during both market ups and downs, and there is no need to time the markets. This benefit is not available when you invest in mutual funds via a lump sum.
No Need to Time Markets When you are investing in mutual funds via a SIP, there is no need to time markets. This is because the rupee cost averaging phenomenon ensures that your cost of purchase of fund units is on the lower side. However, you have to continue investing via a SIP for a long period. Therefore, you can invest in mutual funds whenever you feel like it. There is no ‘right time’ as such to investing in mutual funds. The best time is now!