There is a famous saying by Aristotle that ‘’ Well begun is half done’’. This very well applies to your investments also. Your investment beginning should be right. Then with the periodic review, you can achieve your goals. Hence, to begin with mutual fund investments, it’s important to consider certain important things so that you can make rational decisions that can effectively lead you towards your financial goal.
Following are the ten important things to consider while buying mutual funds in India
Net asset value any mutual fund depicts its intrinsic value. Basically, it is a fund’s market value per unit. Based on net asset value, you will be allocated a number of fund units when buying mutual funds. However, you cannot decide investments just on the basis of net asset value as it is not an indication of future performance. Let’s say you have chosen two funds with similar kinds of portfolio, there can be NAV differences. A fund that has been around for a longer time would have higher NAV and the recent one would have lower NAV. Net asset value is an indicator of a fund’s performance on a daily basis. While buying mutual funds, you need to consider other factors like returns and scheme performance along with NAV.
2) Historic performance
You can easily get the returns of mutual funds for the last five to ten years and also since inception online. Though historical performance of the fund is not an indicator of its future performance, you can analyse how the fund has been performing in a different market scenario since its inception. You can compare two more similar funds performance for the selection of mutual funds. Basically, you should use historical performance of the fund to analyse the performance trend and consistency.
3) Fund manager’s background
When you invest in mutual funds, your hard-earned money is going to be managed by fund managers on your behalf. You must ensure you are giving your money in better and deserving hands for management. Hence, you can do some background checking of fund managers to get the confidence over their expertise.
4) Investing style of the scheme
While buying a mutual fund, it is important to know whether a fund’s objective is matching with your objective and risk profile or not. Every fund manager follows an investment style as required for the scheme’s objective. To make the right investment decision it is important to know the investing style of the scheme.
In order to limit your losses in investment as per your risk profile, it is important to follow asset allocation. Each mutual fund allocates your investment into various asset classes like equity, debt and other securities based on the objective of the fund and the asset allocation that the fund manager would want to follow. It is important for you to consider asset allocation of the scheme that you are choosing to check whether that matches with your risk profile and defined asset allocation or not.
6) Assets under management
Asset under management or AUM in a mutual fund is the total cumulative investment value of that fund. AUM is an important consideration in the mutual fund buying process. Asset under management gives you a broad picture of the success of a mutual fund. Specifically, in case of debt funds, asset under management is an important fund selection parameter. Your expense ratio in debt funds can come down when you invest in a mutual fund with larger assets under management which will also have an impact on returns.
7) Direct or Regular mutual funds
When it comes to buying mutual funds, you can choose between direct or regular variants of mutual fund schemes. Direct fund refers to directly investing through asset management companies with paying any commission or distributor charges. Regular fund option is investing through distributors and advisors, expense ratio of which can be relatively more than that of direct funds. You can choose the one suitable for you, depending on your market knowledge and how you want it to work.
8) Growth or dividend option
When you select a mutual fund for investment, the portfolio of the fund will have many securities that may pay regular dividends. When you choose a scheme with a growth option, the dividend paid by the underlying securities is reinvested by the fund manager. When you opt for a dividend payout option, the amount of dividend will be paid out to your account. You can also choose a dividend reinvestment option in which the fund manager utilises the dividend amount to buy more shares. You can select the suitable option depending on your liquidity/ regular income requirement.
Entry and exit loads are the amount charged at the time of buying and selling mutual fund units respectively. Usually, the open-ended schemes may not have entry and exit loads. If you are buying closed ended funds, this would be applicable. As entry or exit loads are a fraction of the net asset value, it will bring down your investment value. Hence, considering the entry and exit loads is an important thing while buying mutual funds.
10) Tax implication
Every mutual fund scheme can have different tax effects depending on the category it belongs to. There are also tax-saving mutual funds that allow you to avail tax benefit under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Tax implication will have a huge impact on a fund’s return, hence it is an important thing about buying mutual funds.
When you are investing, it is always important to consider the tax implications of the particular investment to understand how tax efficient the returns could be. Mutual funds are considered to be tax efficient investment options. Tax treatment and tax implication varies depending on the category of mutual funds you are investing into. You can take a detailed look at the taxation aspect of mutual funds below –
Equity mutual funds are the funds that invest primarily in equities of companies. Any fund that invests more than 65% into equities is considered as an equity mutual fund for taxation purposes. Tax treatment for equity oriented hybrid funds that invests more than 65% into equities would be similar to that of equity funds.
If you make profit by redeeming your equity mutual fund investments, it is referred to as capital gains which are subjected to income tax. Following is the tax treatment for capital gains from equity mutual funds –
Short-term capital gains
Gains from equity mutual funds are classified as short-term if the units sold are held for less than one year. Short term capital gains are taxed at 15% plus cess.
Long-term capital gains
Gains from equity mutual funds are classified as long-term if the units sold are held for one year or more. Long-term capital gains have been reintroduced (which were tax free till April 2018) in the unit budget 2018. Presently, long-term capital gains on equity funds are taxed at 10% without indexation, only if the annual gain from equity exceeds INR 1 lakh.
2) Tax implications for ELSS (Equity Linked Savings Schemes)
Equity linked savings schemes (ELSS) are the type of equity mutual funds that come with taxation benefits. ELSS funds are designed to provide tax benefits as it comes with a three years lock-in period. Which means, you cannot exit from the fund within three years of investment. But, you can avail tax deduction of up to INR 1.5 lakhs under Section 80C of the Income Tax, 1961. However, tax treatment of capital gains from ELSS schemes is similar to that of equity mutual funds.
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3) Tax implications for debt mutual funds
Debt mutual funds are funds that invest predominantly into debt securities. Debt-oriented hybrid funds that allocate significant proportion into debt securities are also treated similar to that of debt funds for the taxation purpose.
If you make profit by redeeming your debt mutual fund investments, it is referred to as capital gains which are subjected to income tax. Following is the tax treatment for capital gains from debt mutual funds –
Short-term capital gains
Gains from debt mutual funds are classified as short-term if the units sold are held for less than 36 months or three years. Short-term capital gains from debt funds are taxed as per tax slab applicable to you based on your total taxable income.
Long-term capital gains
Gains from debt mutual funds are classified as long-term if the units sold are held for three years or more. Long-term capital gains on debt mutual funds are taxed at 10% without indexation and at 20% with indexation benefit.
Fund of funds, exchange traded funds and international mutual funds are also treated similar to debt mutual funds for the purpose of taxation. Tax implications are similar to that of debt funds for all of these funds.
4) Tax implications on mutual fund dividends
Dividends received on mutual fund investments are taxed differently depending on the type of fund. Dividends paid by the mutual funds are subjected to dividend distribution tax (DDT) which is paid by the mutual fund companies. Mutual fund companies pay DDT of 11.648% on equity funds and 29.12% on debt mutual funds. Dividends were tax free in the hands of investors.
However, there is a major change in dividend distribution tax rule as introduced in the Union Budget 2020. In the new tax regime, dividend on mutual funds will be taxed as per the tax slab applicable to you depending on your total taxable income. Dividend on mutual funds needs to be now added to taxable income under the header ‘Income from other sources’.
Taxation is an important aspect of your financial planning. Understanding the tax implication on mutual fund schemes that are planning to invest can help you make effective investment decisions. Understanding the mutual funds, its working, types, routes and process to invest in along with the tax implications on each type of mutual funds can give you a general idea about the product as a whole.
When you are making an investment decision, understanding the product helps you make an informed and rational choice that would lead you towards your financial goal.
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The stock markets have their own version of animal farms. And just like the real jungle, each animal (read investor) has a unique and distinct approach to investing. Let us look at what the stock market farm looks like.
The lead actors of the stock markets
The two most predominant characters are – The Bulls and The Bears.
1) The Bulls
The bulls are investors who have a positive outlook about the market’s future. They believe that the stock prices will go up in the future and so will their wealth! Bulls are often responsible for driving the stock prices higher. They can be easily recognized from the crowd with their optimistic and their “bullish (go-getter) attitude.
2) The Bears
The bears have a 180-degree opposite approach to investing as compared to the bulls. They are sure that the markets are going to head south in the coming future. Bears are pessimistic and can be often found cribbing about the jungle (read market) conditions to anyone willing to listen to them.
While the bulls and the bears hog the maximum limelight in the stock market farm, there are some other (not so often spoken about) characters as well which deserve your attention.
Remember the dashing Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street? As much as you like him, no one should be a wolf in the stock farm. This is because these type of investors use unethical or criminal ways to make profits. Wolves are the one who are usually responsible for market scams and frauds. We have had some wolves in the Indian stock market as well. Such as Harshad Mehta – the scamster of Dalal Street.
These investors literally “chicken out” in times of volatility. They are usually fearful of stock price fluctuations and do not prefer to assume risk. Their fear outweighs their desire to earn higher profits. Hence, they stick with conservative investment instruments such as Fixed Deposits, government securities, bonds or such other low-risk, fixed-income generating instruments.
There is a famous quote by Jim Cramer, a famous investment guru – Bulls and bears make money. But pigs get slaughtered!
Pigs are investors who feel that even a 100% return (over a one-year time period) is not lucrative enough. Such investors are always on the lookout for that “perfect” investment opportunity which will make them a millionaire in a short time period. Their investment decisions are based on market grapevine news or hot tips. They get drawn towards high-risk stocks and invest without putting in adequate time or effort in understanding the company or doing a thorough background research. As a result, they are the ones who land up bleeding most often.
Stags invest only through the IPO (Initial Public Offer) stage. Their objective is to not to remain invested for long. They want to make a quick buck by selling the stocks once they get listed in the exchange market.
Sheep investors follow the herd and invest in the “most popular” stocks. They do not have their own investment strategy. They follow a leader and do not alter their investment style with changes in market conditions.
Whenever faced with a problem, this bird instinctively buries its head in the sand, with the hope that the trouble will go away. This type of investor does the same when there is negative news about their investments. While it may be very tempting to ignore things that are unpleasant to deal with, it is not a great coping (or investment) strategy. This is because you cannot make things better when you refuse to confront them. So, this is one type of investor you should definitely not aim to be.
Just like rabbits who keep on hopping from one place to another, these investors are always on the lookout for opportunities to earn quick money. They hold their investments for an extremely short time period (usually in minutes).
These investors believe in the saying – slow and steady wins the race. They do not make any impulsive investments and trade keeping in mind the long-term. They try to minimize their number of trades and invest significant time and effort in each trade decision. As a result, they are not rattled or worried with short-term fluctuations as they are in it for the long run.
Whales are big investors who have the power to fluctuate the stock price when they trade (buy or sell) in the market. Generally, there are very few such investors. You can benefit a lot by swimming (read trading) along the whales.
There is no king in this animal farm. Simply because, markets are cyclical. For instance, although the bears and bulls are endlessly at odds, both of them get their chance to shine and make money as the cycles change. So, you can choose any investment strategy which is in sync with your risk profile (except wolves and ostrich) and you are bound to be a happy animal in the long run.
Recollect the table printed in the business section of newspapers with a lot of numbers that seemed like greek to you? Or those tickers flashing on new channels which seemed to buzz past the screen before you could even blink? They were nothing else but stock quotes and tables. (Thanks to technology, they are available online as well these days)
Stock quotes may seem intimidating at first, but once you understand the data points, you will be surprised with how simple yet effective they are.
Why you should be able to read a stock quote
You need to know the past, to understand the present. When you invest in a stock, you should have information about how its price has behaved (gone up and down) historically. After making sure that the stock qualifies on the checklist (Refer Finding Stocks for Investment), you need to decide on your investment timing as well.
Though we don’t believe that there is one “perfect” time to enter the market, investing at a time when the stock prices are reasonable and have not hit their saturation point is important. One of the most talked about financial strategies is to buy low and then sell high. Stock quotes support you to make these decisions. Even after investing in a stock, you should keep on monitoring their performance and growth on a periodic basis. Again stock quotes will come handy in such reviews.
Bottom Line: Stock quotes give you important insights about the stock’s performance. Without understanding them, you would not have complete information required to make a good buying or selling decision.
How to read stock quotes and tables?
In order to read stock quotes, you need to understand its various elements and their implications.
1) Company symbol
Stock tables have limited space that they can dedicate to each stock. Hence, in order to display maximum possible stocks, they display a symbol instead of the company’s name. For instance, Infosys limited is denoted as INFY on the stock table. Usually the stock table lists all stocks in alphabetical order (of symbols).
2) Highs and lows
Share prices keep on fluctuating throughout the course of the market working hours. The stock table mentions the two extreme points – the maximum price and minimum price that the stock traded in a particular day. The price range (difference between these two points) helps you to understand the volatility faced by the stock on a given day.
You can try to co-relate the volatility with the major events that have taken place so as to understand the impact of specific activities on that stock’s market value.
This column helps you understand the stock’s growth or trading range for a longer time period. It shows the maximum price and the minimum price at which the stock has traded in the last 52 weeks (one year).
This column mentions the last price at which the stock was traded that day. For next day trading, you can refer to this close price as a ballpark figure of what you can pay for the stock.
5) Net Change
Net change indicates the growth or degrowth in the stock’s price as compared to the previous day. It is mentioned in absolute terms as well as a percentage of change.
Net change is calculated as:
(Today’s close price less Previous day’s close price) divided by previous day’s close price
When the net change is a positive value, the stock is highlighted in green colour. On the other hand, for a negative change, it is shown in red.
Dividends play a significant role in stock selection, especially for long term investors. Hence, stock tables provide information regarding the dividend per share or dividend yield so that you can compare it against the stock price. (If the dividend field is blank, it indicates that the company is currently not making any payouts)
Dividend Yield is calculated as Dividend per share divided by Stock price. Higher is the value of dividend yield, higher is the return on your investment.
You would have come across this financial ratio in the earlier articles as well. It is one of the most commonly used data-point while assessing a stock’s true potential especially in relation to its financial performance. It indicates how much you (as an investor) are paying for every rupee earned by the company.
PE Ratio is calculated as:
Stock price divided by the EPS (Earning per share)
A high PE ratio indicates that the stock is overvalued(costly). Conversely, a low PE ratio indicates that it is undervalued.
8) Trading Volume
This shows the number of shares that were traded in a day. It is expressed in hundred. So, in order to get the actual number, you need to append “00” at the end of the mentioned number. A heavy trading volume is generally followed by a major change (up or down) in the stock price.
Stock quotes are a powerhouse of critical information, which can help transform a newbie investor into a savvy one! Read, understand, draw insights and take smart investment decisions!
Change is the only constant, especially when it comes to share prices. As an investor, it is important to understand the reason behind the changes in share prices. It will help you not only to take well-informed and correct investing decisions, but also save you from a lot of unnecessary panic or heart-burn.
What causes the share prices to go up or down?
Stock markets are known for their volatility and frequent fluctuations in share prices. So, who are the top 3 culprits behind the stock market volatility?
1) May the force be with you!
The primary reason for stock market turbulence is market forces. The duet performance of demand and supply.
Stock prices change (move north or south) whenever the demand and supply equilibrium is disturbed. When demand increases (people want to invest in a specific stock) more than the supply, it causes the share price to go up. Because, people are willing to pay a premium price for the stock. Conversely, when there is an excess supply (i.e. demand is lesser than supply), the stock prices go down. Think of it as a clearance sale for unwanted products!
Let us look at how demand and supply get impacted by company related matters.
Changes in the company’s attributes impact its stock prices. Better sales revenue, reduced cost of production or operation, debt repayment, etc. lead to higher future cash flows for the company. Investors see such companies as lucrative investment prospects.
This leads to an increase in demand and resultantly stock prices move up. On the other hand, negative factors such as change or instability in top management, product failures, increase in the manufacturing or operational costs, sharp dip in the revenue, etc. erode investor’s trust in the company. This leads to a slump in demand and stock prices come crashing down.
Our country’s economic condition plays an important role in share price volatility. For instance, factors such as change in interest rates, inflation (or deflation), political turmoil, natural calamities or pandemics (the bingo word for 2020!), financial growth (or de-growth), major changes in macroeconomic policies, currency valuation, etc. have an impact on the stock market movements.
Let us look at some examples:
Inflation eats up your purchasing power and also your investing power. Let us see how. It leads to a swell in the pricing of offerings (goods and services). As a result, people curtail their buying and spending habits. This in turn leads to a fall in company’s product and revenue and hence brings down their stock prices.
RBI makes changes to Repo rates basis the overall economic conditions. If RBI increases the repo rate, borrowing from it becomes costlier for financial institutions. As a result, they increase their lending rates which makes loans etc. expensive for businesses. This leads to a temporary halt or sluggishness in their growth activities and investors start to sell-off their stocks in anticipation of the company’s de-growth.
Massive selling leads to stock price crash. On the other hand, if RBI decreases their lending rates, it leads to a situation of credit expansion. Perceived as a sign of growth, investors flock to get a chunk of the growth and drive up the stock prices.
Globalization has been a boon for all of us. But as they say to enjoy the rainbow you need to put up with a bit of rain. Global economic conditions have an impact on our stock markets as well. Indian market has witnessed a large inflow of foreign funds and investment. If there is an economic unrest in the foreign countries or change in their country’s foreign investment policies, we may see a sudden withdrawal of such funds from us. Similarly, if foreign stock markets enter a bear phase, investors might anticipate a cascading or ripple effect in India’s stock markets as well. Market sentiments (sometimes real and sometimes unfounded) carry the potential to cause massive volatility. All such factors will lead to a crash in the share prices.
Stock markets are volatile. Period. But that volatility is overwhelming only when you do not know how to interpret the cause of the turbulence. If you invest in a disciplined manner, you can capitalize on the volatility and optimize your returns.
All you need is solid understanding of the market workings, good stock selection and a robust (yet flexible) investment strategy. As a wise person once said, for the investor who knows what he (or she) is doing, volatility creates endless opportunities.
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When it comes to investing, risk tolerance is an important component to consider. Depending upon your risk taking ability, you can decide your asset allocation to reach your financial goals. When you invest according to your risk profile, you will be in a position to manage the swings in your investment performances effectively. When it comes to mutual fund investments, there are funds available to suit each type of investor with different financial goals, risk profile and time horizon.
Before you invest in a mutual fund scheme, you need to first consider a few points and to be clear about them.
1) What are your financial goals?
You may have many financial goals right from some short-term goals like buying a car, paying school fees to medium-term goals like buying a home, family vacation and long-term goals like retirement planning, children’s higher education and marriage. You need to plan separately for each goal.
2) How much do you need to save to reach your goals?
When your goals are clear, you can estimate how much you would need to save today to reach there after considering the inflation.
3) What is the time horizon you keep to achieve these goals?
Time horizon that you have to reach at your goals is an important consideration while investing. There are mutual funds that are particularly meant for short-duration and there are also funds for long-duration goals like retirement.
4) What is your risk taking ability?
Your willingness and ability to take risk defines your choice of investments ultimately. Your current age, number of dependents, annual income, amount that you have set aside as emergency fund, amount that you can invest monthly, liquidity requirement, your willingness to take risk and return expectation etc are some of the key factors that define your risk profile. Based on your risk taking ability, your asset allocation needs to be done. You can seek the help of financial experts to know your risk profile. Your risk profiling can be done with a simple questionnaire.
When you understand your savings requirement based on your financial goals, time horizon and risk profile, you can start knowing the suitability of each type of mutual fund with different risk-return characteristics as per your requirement.
Selection of mutual funds as per your risk profile and asset allocation
You can choose the funds based on your risk profile and defined asset allocation for you across various asset classes like equity, debt, gold and real estate etc.
1) Aggressive/dynamic investor
You are an aggressive investor which means you are willing to take high risk in investments that have higher volatility. In such cases, you would also expect higher returns for maximising your wealth. Equity mutual fund category is the ideal choice for your risk profile. You can consider to invest in some small-cap and mid-cap equity funds that come with relatively higher risk and potential for higher return.
You can also consider some sector funds that invest in stocks of particular sectors. Mainly, you need to also consider the investment horizon to reach your goals. Equity mutual funds are well suited for capital appreciation and to achieve long-term goals. In case you have to invest for medium-term goals you can consider investing in equity-oriented balanced funds. You can also consider investing a portion of your money into debt funds keeping in mind your short-term goals and liquidity requirements.
2) Balanced investor
You are a balanced investor, which means you are willing to take medium risks while investing. You would prefer to invest in financial avenues that are not highly volatile. Medium-risk investors like you can consider to invest in equity mutual funds like bluechip funds or large-cap equity funds that invest in stocks of well-established companies for your long-term goals like for retirement corpus.
Though equity involves high risk, it can perform well over the long-run. You can also consider to invest in funds with a diversified equity portfolio. For your medium-term goals, you can consider investing in hybrid funds. As hybrid funds invest in both equity and debt in an almost equal proportion, this can very well suit your asset allocation preference and risk taking ability. You can also invest a part of your money into short-term debt funds for liquidity purposes.
3) Conservative investor
You are a conservative investor, which means you are a risk averse or an investor with low risk preference. While investing, you would prefer avenues that can offer your stability and income rather than capital appreciation and growth. You can consider investing in long-term debt funds for your long-term goals. You can consider retirement savings funds or pension funds. For regular income, you can consider investing in income funds. Credit risk funds can also be a good choice for your risk profile.
Defining asset allocation based on your risk profile is extremely important to successfully reach your financial goals. While selecting the best suitable mutual funds as per your risk profile, it is also important to consider your existing asset allocation and investments in other financial products.