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12 mutual fund terms you must know

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As you probably know, a mutual fund is an investment that pools together money from a number of investors. It then uses professionals to manage and invest this money with the aim of achieving a return.

The mutual funds industry is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

If you are interested in investing in mutual funds, here are some terms you need to understand.

AMC

An Asset Management Company is the fund house or the company that manages the money.

The mutual fund is a trust registered under the Indian Trust Act. It is initiated by a sponsor. A sponsor is a person who acts alone or with a corporate to establish a mutual fund. The sponsor then appoints an AMC to manage the investment, marketing, accounting and other functions pertaining to the fund.

For instance, ABN AMRO Trustee (India) Private Limited is appointed as the trustee to the ABN AMRO mutual fund.

ABN AMRO Asset Management (India) Limited is appointed as its investment manager.

Various funds with different objectives can be floated under the umbrella of one parent.

So ABN AMRO Equity Fund, ABN AMRO Opportunities Fund and ABN AMRO Flexi Debt Fund are all independent schemes of ABN AMRO Mutual Fund. They are managed by the ABN AMRO AMC.

NAV

The Net Asset Value is the price of a unit of a fund. When a fund comes out with an NFO, it is priced Rs 10. Later, depending on the value of the investments, this price could rise or fall.

Load

This is a fee that is charged when you buy or sell the units of a fund.

When you buy the units of a fund, you pay a percentage of it as a fee. This is known as the entry load.

Let’s say you are investing Rs 10,000 and the entry load is 2%. That means you pay Rs 200 as the entry load and Rs 9,800 is invested in the fund.

Now, let’s assume you are selling the units of your fund. And the Rs 10,000 you invested initially is now Rs 15,000. Let’s further assume the exit load is 2%. So you pay Rs 300 and get back Rs 14,700.

Generally, if funds charge an entry load, they will not charge an exit load. Or vice versa. Only one of the loads is charged.

The load is a percentage of the NAV.

Portfolio

This is the term given to all the investments made by the fund as well as the amount held in cash.

Corpus

Let’s assume a very small mutual fund has an initial investment of 1,000 units and each unit is worth Rs 10. Hence, the total amount with the fund is Rs 10,000. This is referred to as the corpus. Later, some other investors invest Rs 2,000. Now the corpus will be Rs 12,000 (Rs 10,000 + Rs 2,000).

The total amount invested (Rs 12,000) is called the corpus or the total amount of money invested in the fund.

AUM

Assets Under Management is the total value of all the investments currently being managed by the fund.

Let’s say the corpus is Rs 12,000 but, due to a rise in the price of the shares it has invested in, the value of the units has increased. So the Rs 12,000 invested is now worth Rs 15,000. This figure is referred to as AUM.

Diversified equity mutual fund

This is a mutual fund that invests in stocks of various companies in various sectors.

ELSS

Equity Linked Saving Schemes are diversified equity mutual funds with a tax benefit under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

To avail of the tax benefit, your money must be locked up for at least three years.

Balanced fund

A fund that invests in both equity (shares) and debt (fixed return investments) is known as a balanced fund.

Debt fund

These are funds that invest in fixed return investments like bonds. A liquid fund is one that invests in money market instruments, these are fixed return investments of a very short tenure.

NFO

A New Fund Offering is the term given to a new mutual fund scheme.

SIP

A Systematic Investment Plan refers to periodic investing in a mutual fund. Every month or every three months, the investor will have to commit to putting in a fixed amount. This will go towards the purchase of units.

Let’s say that every month you commit to investing, say, Rs 1,000 in your fund. At the end of a year, you would have invested Rs 12,000.

If the NAV on the day you invest in the first month is Rs 20, you will get 50 units.

The next month, the NAV is Rs 25. You will get 40 units.

The following month, the NAV is Rs 18. You will get 55.56 units.

So, after three months, you would have 145.56 units. On an average, you would have paid around Rs 21 per unit. This is because, when the NAV is high, you get fewer units per Rs 1,000. When the NAV falls, you get more units per Rs 1,000.

How to pick a good mutual fund
http://in.rediff.com/getahead/2006/oct/03fund.htm

We always advise our readers never to go by tips but to do their own analysis. Here, we tell you what to keep in mind in order to pick a good mutual fund.

The way to do it is by comparing it rightly with other benchmarks and parameters.

Absolute returns

Absolute returns measure how much a fund has gained over a certain period. So, you look at the Net Asset Value on one day and look at it, say, six months or one year or two years later. The percentage difference will tell you the return over this time frame.

Compare the returns of various funds. But, when using this parameter to compare one fund with another, make sure that you compare the right fund. To use the age-old analogy, don’t compare apples with oranges.

So if you are looking at the returns of a diversified equity fund, compare it with other diversified equity funds. Don’t compare it with a sector fund.

Don’t even compare it with a balanced fund (one that invests in equity and debt).

For instance, compare HDFC Equity with Franklin India Prima. Both are diversified equity funds. Similarly, compare UTI Auto with J M Auto, both being auto sector funds. Or Birla Midcap with Magnum Midcap, both being funds that invest in mid-cap companies.

Don’t compare the performance of Alliance Equity with UTI Auto or even Alliance Equity with Birla Midcap.

Benchmark returns

This will give you a standard by which to make the comparison. It basically indicates what the fund has earned as against what it should have earned.

A fund’s benchmark is an index that is chosen by a fund company to serve as a standard for its returns. The market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, has made it mandatory for funds to declare a benchmark index.

In effect, the fund is saying that the benchmark’s returns are its target and a fund should be deemed to have done well if it manages to beat the benchmark.

Let’s say the fund is a diversified equity fund that has benchmarked itself against the Sensex.

So the returns of this fund will be compared vis-a-viz the Sensex.

Now, if the markets are doing fabulously well and the Sensex keeps climbing upwards steadily, then anything less than fabulous returns from the fund would actually be a disappointment.

If the Sensex rises by 10% over two months and the fund’s NAV rises by 12%, it is said to have outperformed its benchmark. If the NAV rose by just 8%, it is said to have underperformed the benchmark.

But if the Sensex drops by 10% over a period of two months and during that time, the fund’s NAV drops by only 6%, then the fund is said to have outperformed the benchmark. This is because it dropped less than the benchmark.

A fund’s returns compared to its benchmark are called its benchmark returns.

Compare a fund with its own stated benchmark, and not another one. For instance, Fidelity Equity and BoB Growth are both diversified equity funds with different benchmarks.

Fidelity Equity is benchmarked against BSE 200 while BoB Growth is benchmarked against the Sensex.

Time period

The most important thing while measuring or comparing returns is to choose an appropriate time period.

The time period over which returns should be compared and evaluated has to be the same as the one that fund type is meant to be invested in.

If you are comparing equity funds then you must use three to five year returns. But this is not the case of every other fund.

For instance, cash funds are known as ultra short-term debt funds or liquid funds that invest in money market instruments. These are fixed return instruments of very short maturities. Their main aim is to preserve the principal and earn a modest return. The money you invest will eventually be returned to you with a little something added.

Investors invest in these funds for a very short time frame of around a few months. It is alright to compare these funds on the basis of their six month returns.

When returns are compared between funds, make sure the time period is identical. Else, you may be looking at the one-year returns for one fund and the three-year returns for another.

For instance, let’s assume you are told the return of Fund A was 60% and that of Fund B was 70%. But, if Fund A’s return is a one-year return while Fund B’s return is a three-year return, the answer you would get would be very misleading.

While there are other factors that have to be considered when investing in a mutual fund, returns is the most important. So make sure you do your homework right on this count.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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