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Mutual Fund Basics


A mutual fund is a professionally-managed trust that pools the savings of many investors and invests them in securities like stocks, bonds, short-term money market instruments and commodities such as precious metals. Investors in a mutual fund have a common financial goal and their money is invested in different asset classes in accordance with the fund’s investment objective. Investments in mutual funds entail comparatively small amounts, giving retail investors the advantage of having finance professionals control their money even if it is a few thousand rupees.

Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicles actively managed either by professional fund managers or passively tracked by an index or industry. The funds are generally well diversified to offset potential losses. They offer an attractive way for savings to be managed in a passive manner without paying high fees or requiring constant attention from individual investors. Mutual funds present an option for investors who lack the time or knowledge to make traditional and complex investment decisions. By putting your money in a mutual fund, you permit the portfolio manager to make those essential decisions for you.

How is a mutual fund set up?
A mutual fund is set up in the form of a trust that has a Sponsor, Trustees, Asset Management Company (AMC). The trust is established by a sponsor(s) who is like a promoter of a company and the said Trust is registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as a Mutual Fund. The Trustees of the mutual fund hold its property for the benefit of unit holders. An Asset Management Company (AMC) approved by SEBI manages the fund by making investments in various types of securities.
The trustees are vested with the power of superintendence and direction over the AMC. They monitor the performance and compliance of SEBI regulations by the mutual fund. The trustees are vested with the general power of superintendence and direction over AMC. They manage the performance and compliance of SEBI Regulations by the mutual fund.

How does mutual funds operate?
A mutual fund company collects money from several investors, and invests it in various options like stocks, bonds, etc. This fund is managed by professionals who understand the market well, and try to accomplish growth by making strategic investments. Investors get units of the mutual fund according to the amount they have invested. The Asset Management Company is responsible for managing the investments for the various schemes operated by the mutual fund. It also undertakes activities such like advisory services, financial consulting, customer services, accounting, marketing and sales functions for the schemes of the mutual fund.

What is Net Asset Value?
Net Asset Value (NAV) is the total asset value (net of expenses) per unit of the fund and is calculated by the AMC at the end of every business day. In order to calculate the NAV of a mutual fund, you need to take the current market value of the fund's assets minus the liabilities, if any and divide it by the number of shares outstanding.
if the market value of securities of a Mutual Fund scheme is 500 lakh and the Mutual Fund has issued 10 lakh units of 10 each to investors, then the NAV per unit of the fund is 50.

Benefits of investing in mutual funds:

  • Professional Management
    When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is managed by finance professionals. Investors who do not have the time or skill to manage their own portfolio can invest in mutual funds. By investing in mutual funds, you can gain the services of professional fund managers, which would otherwise be costly for an individual investor.

  • Diversification
    Mutual funds provide the benefit of diversification across different sectors and companies. Mutual funds widen investments across various industries and asset classes. Thus, by investing in a mutual fund, you can gain from the benefits of diversification and asset allocation, without investing a large amount of money that would be required to build an individual portfolio.

  • Liquidity
    Mutual funds are usually very liquid investments. Unless they have a pre-specified lock-in period, your money is available to you anytime you want subject to exit load, if any. Normally funds take a couple of days for returning your money to you. Since they are well integrated with the banking system, most funds can transfer the money directly to your bank account.

  • Low transaction cost
    Due to economies of scale, mutual funds pay lower transaction costs. The benefits are passed on to mutual fund investors, which may not be enjoyed by an individual who enters the market directly.

  • Transparency
    Funds provide investors with updated information pertaining to the markets and schemes through factsheets, offer documents, annual reports etc.

  • Well regulated
    Mutual funds in India are regulated and monitored by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which endeavors to protect the interests of investors. All funds are registered with SEBI and complete transparency is enforced. Mutual funds are required to provide investors with standard information about their investments, in addition to other disclosures like specific investments made by the scheme and the quantity of investment in each asset class.