Mutual Funds

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An investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets. Mutual funds are operated by money managers, who invest the fund’s capital and attempt to produce capital gains and income for the fund’s investors. A mutual fund’s portfolio is structured and maintained to match the investment objectives stated in its prospectus.

Basics of Mutual Funds

The details mentioned below are for the investors who have not yet started investing in mutual funds, but willing to explore the opportunity and also for those who want to clear their basics for what is mutual fund and how best it can serve as an investment tool.
Getting Started
Before we move to explain what is Mutual Fund, it?s very important to know the area in which mutual funds works, the basic understanding of stocks and bonds.
Stocks
Stocks represent shares of ownership in a Public Company. Examples of Public Companies include Reliance, ONGC and Infosys. Stocks are considered to be the most common owned investment traded on the market.
Bonds
Bonds are basically the money which you lend to the Government or a Company, and in return you can receive interest on your invested amount, which is back over predetermined amounts of time. Bonds are considered to be the most common lending investment traded on the market.
There are many other types of investments other than stocks and bonds (including annuities, real estate, and precious metals), but the majority of mutual funds invest in stocks and/or bonds.

Working of Mutual Funds

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Regulatory Authorities

To protect the interest of the investors, SEBI formulates policies and regulates the Mutual Funds. It notified regulations in 1993 (fully revised in 1996) and issues guidelines from time to time. MF either promoted by public or by private sector entities including one promoted by foreign entities is governed by these Regulations.

SEBI approved Asset Management Company (AMC) manages the funds by making investments in various types of securities. Custodian, registered with SEBI, holds the securities of various schemes of the fund in its custody.

According to SEBI Regulations, two thirds of the directors of Trustee Company or board of trustees must be independent.
The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) reassures the investors in units of mutual funds that the mutual funds function within the strict regulatory framework. Its objective is to increase public awareness of the mutual fund industry.

AMFI also is engaged in upgrading professional standards and in promoting best industry practices in diverse areas such as valuation, disclosure, transparency etc.

What is a Mutual Fund?

A mutual fund is just the connecting bridge or a financial intermediary that allows a group of investors to pool their money together with a predetermined investment objective. The mutual fund will have a fund manager who is responsible for investing the gathered money into specific securities (stocks or bonds). When you invest in a mutual fund, you are buying units or portions of the mutual fund and thus on investing becomes a shareholder or unit holder of the fund.

Mutual funds are considered as one of the best available investments as compare to others they are very cost efficient and also easy to invest in, thus by pooling money together in a mutual fund, investors can purchase stocks or bonds with much lower trading costs than if they tried to do it on their own. But the biggest advantage to mutual funds is diversification, by minimizing risk & maximizing returns.

Diversification

Diversification is nothing but spreading out your money across available or different types of investments. By choosing to diversify respective investment holdings reduces risk tremendously up to certain extent.

The most basic level of diversification is to buy multiple stocks rather than just one stock. Mutual funds are set up to buy many stocks. Beyond that, you can diversify even more by purchasing different kinds of stocks, then adding bonds, then international, and so on. It could take you weeks to buy all these investments, but if you purchased a few mutual funds you could be done in a few hours because mutual funds automatically diversify in a predetermined category of investments (i.e. – growth companies, emerging or mid size companies, low-grade corporate bonds, etc).

Types of Mutual Funds Scheme

Wide variety of Mutual Fund Schemes exists to cater to the needs such as financial position, risk tolerance and return expectations etc. thus mutual funds has Variety of flavors, Being a collection of many stocks, an investors can go for picking a mutual fund might be easy. There are over hundreds of mutual funds scheme to choose from. It is easier to think of mutual funds in categories, mentioned below.
Overview of existing schemes existed in mutual fund category: BY STRUCTURE
1. Open – Ended Schemes:
An open-end fund is one that is available for subscription all through the year. These do not have a fixed maturity. Investors can conveniently buy and sell units at Net Asset Value (“NAV”) related prices. The key feature of open-end schemes is liquidity.
2. Close – Ended Schemes:
These schemes have a pre-specified maturity period. One can invest directly in the scheme at the time of the initial issue. Depending on the structure of the scheme there are two exit options available to an investor after the initial offer period closes. Investors can transact (buy or sell) the units of the scheme on the stock exchanges where they are listed. The market price at the stock exchanges could vary from the net asset value (NAV) of the scheme on account of demand and supply situation, expectations of unit holder and other market factors. Alternatively some close-ended schemes provide an additional option of selling the units directly to the Mutual Fund through periodic repurchase at the schemes NAV; however one cannot buy units and can only sell units during the liquidity window. SEBI Regulations ensure that at least one of the two exit routes is provided to the investor.
3. Interval Schemes:
Interval Schemes are that scheme, which combines the features of open-ended and close-ended schemes. The units may be traded on the stock exchange or may be open for sale or redemption during pre-determined intervals at NAV related prices.