Mutual Funds – lesser known but vital information

No matter which criteria you choose to deploy, Mutual funds have definitely been a great success in our country. They have also been a boon to people who want to take part in equity investment but do not have the time or inclination for stock investing. However, there are several aspects of MF, especially in terms of how they are operated in terms of expenses, that are unknown to most investors. In this post I will try to give information about some such aspects.

The first thing to understand about MF is that the fund house pretty much operates like a normal company with revenues and expenses. Revenues are really the charges that it is able to levy in terms of what is called the Expense Ratio ( ER ). Expenses are the costs that the fund house incurs in running the fund – this includes Employee costs, infrastructure costs, transaction costs, advertising costs etc. Now, as the fund house has multiple funds, these costs are divided among different funds. For example, the same fund manager can manage multiple MF schemes, the infrastructure used is the same, advertising costs are shared etc. However, each MF scheme needs to be profitable on it’s own, otherwise it does not make sense for the fund house to keep the scheme going.

The important thing to note here is that the ER is not linked to the performance of the fund directly. In fact the opposite can be true – as the fund grows in size the ER actually tends to come down as the expenses are spread over more units. Therefore the expense ratio of a newly launched fund is likely to be higher than that of an established fund. One other thing to notice is that earlier to August 2009, any MF buying had an entry load of 2.25 % which was mainly used by the Fund houses to take care of distributor commissions. After SEBI has banned the entry load, now the commissions must be taken care of through the Expense Ratio itself. As such, if you buy the funds directly from the Fund houses through their Direct plans you will have a lower ER as distributor commissions are absent.

If you are having a long term SIP which started before August 2009, you are paying the Entry load even today !! At 20000 Rs per month, this works out to be 5400 Rs annually and over a period of 10 years the amount of money lost is significant. So, stop all such SIP at once and you can start SIP in Direct schemes for the same funds if you want. Similarly, if you have SIP in Regular schemes of MF, stop these and start in Direct schemes of the same funds to avail the lower ER.

There is another reason why you should not let your schemes run for long, especially if these funds are not the ones you are investing in currently. Most earlier funds were bought through some Distributor or the other as there were no Direct funds then. Now for such schemes you continue to pay a Trail commission to the Distributor based on your period of holding. Let us say you Purchased a SIP in HDFC Top 200 from 2012 through 2015 and then stopped it. Even though you are not investing in it now, every year your Distributor gets a Trail commission and will continue to do so as long as you hold the Fund. Now, if you are not particularly happy with the Fund redeem it and put money again in Direct schemes.

Finally, many of us have bought MF for a long time and may not really be organized to remember each investment, especially the smaller ones. You can register yourself for your NSDL or CDSL statements and check out your consolidated holdings in one place. As long as your email id or PAN is linked to our investment it will figure there. Just in case, this is very old and you do not have these linked, you can still do a name search in the repository data to check out the possible schemes. Yes, there will be some duplication of names but it is not difficult to check the right ones belonging to you.

I hope the information here is useful to the readers in sorting out their MF investments. In short, shift to Direct funds and make sure you have information on all your invested schemes. This will help you to work your money in a productive fashion.


6 thoughts on “Mutual Funds – lesser known but vital information

  1. Very informative article !!! Just one more point to add: One can buy the direct schemes from CAMS / Karvy for majority of the funds. For the rest, one can visit the website of the AMC to buy the funds directly. With Aadhar based eKYC, the need to visit a AMC office has been reduced to NILL and one can invest from the comforts of their home / desk.


  2. Sir ,

    I believe expense ratio does not cover expenses such as trading costs . So the total cost of investing through regular mf plan is about 3% + advisor fees . People can save half of this by going thru direct route . Most of the advisers are only to make money for themselves . My questions are :

    1. What is the proper way to know the total expenses that an investor incurs ? Does the fund balance,p & l statement give the figures of these expenses ?

    2. Over a long term such as entire life of a person if he is to allocate a certain percentage to equity – will it be prudent to invest in an equity index fund instead of active mf investing ? As we invest longer there is more chance of reversion to the mean which means getting returns equal to the index . However I’m not seeing cheap index funds – they’re charging abt 0.5% while active mf direct is abt 1% expenses but my returns over 10 years thru these is abt 5% more than the index .


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