Mutual fund schemes suggested by experts

After the recent categorisation of MF schemes as mandated by SEBI, there is a lot of confusion among investors as to whether they should continue with the earlier investments or revamp them altogether. I had written about some funds you can consider for your long term MF portfolio. Recently I got to hear the views of some experts about the MF schemes of their choice.

As I have already written about the considerations in choosing an MF scheme for the long term, I will not repeat them here. The funds suggested below are from experts appearing in CNBC TV18 programs and have a long pedigree. The basis of selection was long term performance and this will typically be 10 years and above. So without any further ado, here is the list of funds :-

  • In the large cap space consider the following funds:
    • ICICI Focused Blue chip fund
    • ICICI Nifty Next 50 fund
    • ABSL Front line equity fund
  • In the multi cap space consider the following funds:
    • ABSL Equity fund
    • SBI Multi cap fund
  • In the small cap space consider the following funds:
    • Reliance Small cap fund
    • DSP Small cap fund
    • SBI Small cap fund
  • If you are looking at hybrid funds for lower volatility consider these:
    • HDFC Balanced fund
    • ICICI Balanced Advantage fund

In order to build a portfolio of 3-4 funds you can just select one from each of these categories and start investing in them regularly.

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A long term MF portfolio in the changed regime

As I have said before, I support the initiative taken by SEBI in reducing the clutter of the MF space. The definitions of fund types as well as the regulation on what kind of companies they can invest in the different schemes lends a lot of transparency. In this post let me try and outline an MF portfolio which may be suitable for most investors.

In conceiving this portfolio I have looked at a time horizon of 20 years. This is the kind of time frame where you can take certain amount of volatility in your stride and benefit from the long term India growth story. The types of funds and the possible schemes that one can look at investing are given below. Note that you can mostly look at Direct schemes in order to keep the expenses low. There is really no point in giving off 1 % or more in expenses annually, over such a long time period.

Without much more ado then here are my suggestions:-

  • Large cap funds can have 20 % of your portfolio. Choose from below 
    • ICICI Blue chip fund
    • SBI Blue chip fund
    • Nifty ETF funds
  • Multi cap funds can have 20 % of your portfolio. Choose from below
    • DSP opportunity fund
    • HDFC Capital Builder fund
    • Mirae India Equity fund
  • Mid/Small cap funds can have 30 % of your portfolio. Choose from below
    • HDFC Small cap fund
    • L & T Emerging business fund
    • DSP Small cap fund
  • Tax Savings funds are only if you need to use them to exhaust your 80 C section. In case you have enough to invest otherwise do not go for these. Choose from below
    • IDFC Tax Advantage fund
    • ABSL Tax Relief-96 fund
  • Thematic funds are for the more risk oriented investors. Choose from below
    • IDFC Infra fund
    • Mirae Consumer fund
    • ABSL GenNext fund

Note that while I have suggested some allocation here, how much you should invest in each depends on your stage of life and also investment horizon. For example if your risk appetite is low then go light on the Mid/Small cap category and definitely avoid thematic funds. On the other hand a person with good understanding of the markets and high risk appetite can invest significantly in these two categories.

The good thing is all fund houses are giving you an opportunity to exit the current holdings. How do you go about this and recast your MF portfolio along with investing well for the future? I will cover this in my next post.

Investing in Mutual funds after the changes

The recent changes in regulations brought in by SEBI for the MF space is a welcome step. For too long Fund houses have gone about misleading people with naming funds in an attractive manner and investing in a manner different from the stated mandate. This had meant that several investors were investing in funds in a manner which was different from their real objective. In the changed circumstances, how should you go about investing in MF? Let me try to address it in this post.

Firstly, if you are an existing investor you will have to do a one time stock taking of your portfolio. You can do it in the following manner :-

  1. Check your portfolio value against the overall goal that you have and see where you have reached. For example, your FI goal in current money may be 5 crores and you may be at 1 crore. If you have different portfolios for each goal then you will need to do it for each portfolio. Remember that multiple portfolios is really a sub optimal way of investing and ideally avoided.
  2. Use a SIP returns calculator to check what is the XIRR you will need to have for your portfolio from this point in order to reach your goals. In the above example, you need 3 crores more as your current 1 crore will also grow in the next 15 years. If you are investing 50000 Rs a month and have 15 years to your goal of FI then you need an XIRR of 14 %.
  3. Based on the required XIRR you will need to reorganise your future investments in the following manner:-
    1. If the required XIRR is between 8-10 % then put 30 % in Balanced funds, 40 % in large cap funds and 15 % each in Mid and Small cap funds.
    2. If the required XIRR is between 10-12 % then put 20 % in Balanced funds, 40 % in large cap funds, 20 % each in Mid cap and Small cap funds.
    3. If the required XIRR is between 12-14 % then put 10 % in Balanced funds, 30 % in Large cap funds, 30 % in Mid cap funds and 30 % in Small cap funds.
  4. If the XIRR needed is more than 14 % then you need to increase your investment levels. It will be injudicious to make any plans with a return expectation higher than 14 %.

Secondly, if you are just starting off on your investment journey or are in the initial stages of it then look at the following portfolio:-

  1. 20 % in large cap funds
  2. 20 % in multi cap funds
  3. 20 % in mid cap funds
  4. 20 % in small cap funds
  5. 20 % in International funds

Over a long period of time, say 20 years or more, this all weather portfolio will serve all your investment needs well and hopefully take you to a FI state. Of course, you will need to review it annually and churn the funds or tweak the percentages every 3-4 years if it is needed.

Bottom line – have realistic XIRR expectations, look at a long time horizon, review every year and change things in 3-4 years as needed. That is really all you need to do.

ICICI Bharat Consumption fund – should you invest?

Over the last few years and especially in 2017 many of the Fund houses have come up with a slew of close ended NFO’s. These come with a variety of themes and associated terminology. For example ICICI calls them Value Fund series, Sundaram calls them Micro cap series and Axis calls them Equity advantage series. In this post let us look at why these are in vogue now, what are the pros and cons and finally whether it is a good idea to invest in them.

The first issue is relatively simple to answer : new products get developed based on the likelihood of their success. With a lot of retail and institutional buyers pumping in money, there is always a demand for newer types of funds to invest in. For fund houses, it is an opportunity to have a specific charter which may not be possible to fulfil through their regular funds. For example, one of the ICICI value series funds only wanted to invest in Pharma and IT sectors as these were beaten down significantly over the last six months or so. Now this could be done in one of their existing funds too but for a fund manager to churn the portfolio by selling stocks that are doing well is not always an easy decision to take. Using fresh money in taking such calls is relatively simple. The trend started by end 2014 or so with ICICI and has now percolated to several others.

What are the pros and cons of such funds? Well, for one the mandates here have a lot more clarity compared to a vanilla large cap or mid cap fund. The fact that it is close ended, normally for 3 years, means that the fund manager has time at his disposal to take the calls he wants to take. On the flip side you will not have access to your money for 3 years and this is a problem unless you can definitely do without it for this time. A greater problem may be your inability to shift in case you are not happy with the performance. From my viewpoint, I do not see both these issues as a serious one. Firstly, you should be investing in equity for a much longer term than 3 years. Secondly, the Fund manager is way more qualified to deal with short term performance issues.

Let me now give some details of an investment that I made in one such fund. While the experience may not be repeated for all funds, it does offer certain insights:-

  • I purchased ICICI Prudential Value Fund series 2 on 6/12/2013. Invested amount was 2 lacs in the Dividend option.
  • The idea was to get some regular income as I planned to go for my consultancy practice sometime in 2014.
  • Though it was a 3 year fund, it has now been rolled over and will mature on 31/12/2018.
  • So far total dividends have amounted to 2 lacs
  • Current value of the fund is nearly 2.6 lacs

I think it can be said quite safely that this worked out quite well. In fact, I have invested in several follow up NFO from ICICI. Apart from ICICI I have also tried out Axis, Birla Sunlife, Sundaram and UTI for close ended funds. From a personal perspective it works well for me as I get tax free income and also growth from it.

You should be investing in these funds under the following situations:-

  • You have some income requirement every year. Instead of doing FD you can go for close ended funds with dividend option. Note that the dividend is not guaranteed.
  • You have a goal after 3-4 years. This is ideal for such situations. However, in such a case choose the Growth option.
  • You have come into some money and do not want to decide on allocation for 2-3 years as you may need the money then. Go for the growth option here too.
  • Make sure you understand the mandate and therefore the associated risk profile. A micro cap series from Sundaram will obviously be more risky as compared to the Value fund series of ICICI. However, the rewards will vary in a similar trend too.

If you are interested in these funds after reading this post, do consider the ICICI Prudential Bharat Consumption  Fund – Series 2 which closes for subscription on April 26th. It is in areas where there will be definite growth and the industries they are investing in will be likely to do well for the next 10-15 years and maybe even longer. The theme of investment is consumption oriented – all of these have great potential and are likely to do well in both medium and long term. The 3.5 year close ended NFO may just be the right vehicle for any medium term goal you have. For example, I feel of you want 5 lacs after 3 years, you can just invest 3 lacs in this and wait for 3 years. It is very likely that you will be able to realise an amount close to your goals.

People having surplus money and waiting to invest in some suitable avenue should take hold of this opportunity.

How to realign your MF portfolio

In several of my earlier blog posts, I have covered practically all aspects of MF investments and you should be in good shape if you are starting off to create a MF portfolio from scratch. However, as some readers reminded me, most of us are already having an MF portfolio and some of us are having SIP investments in several funds. Different portfolios for different goals can also lead to people holding more funds than is either necessary or desirable.

The good thing is you can realign your portfolio and get into a logical allocation quite easily. As I have covered the basic logic of my suggested portfolio structure and SIP / one time investments I will not repeat them in this post. You can read these posts here and here. In this post I will outline a simple method by which you can realign your portfolio.

Step 1 : Be clear about your intended portfolio structure:

  • For the long term you need just 4 funds – a large cap fund, a mid cap fund, a multi cap fund and a small cap fund. If you want to hedge your bets you can add an International fund, mainly US based.
  • You do not need to have any Balanced funds, Sector funds or Thematic funds.
  • Always go for Direct funds as the lower cost will enhance your returns significantly over the long run.
  • Remember you need only 1 portfolio for all your goals and not a separate one for each goal.

Step 2: Map your current portfolio to the above portfolio structure:

  • Check if the funds you hold are aligned to the above portfolio. If not then discard them logically from your portfolio.
  • For the aligned funds, check if they are suitable for your portfolio. Read about how to select funds here. If any of the funds are not suitable then discard these.
  • We will decide what to do with the discarded funds later on.

Step 3: Get to your new portfolio structure:

  • Take whatever you have got from step 2 and add other funds based on the portfolio structure and the selection method.
  • Now you have s set of 4-5 funds in your portfolio. In all of these your investment value is either zero or equal to the earlier investment, in case you are retaining any of your earlier funds.

Step 4: Decide on your investment amount per month:

  • To begin with use a SIP calculator to check what should be your monthly investment. You can take any rate of return between 10 and 15 % based on your comfort level.
  • You can start by putting equal amounts in all 4-5 funds. However, if you prefer a fund type over another then you can tweak with the monthly SIP amounts. It does not matter a great deal, as long as you have got the portfolio correct.
  • Increase the SIP amount every year based on the availability of extra money to invest.

Step 5: Redeem the discarded funds at the right time and invest into your new portfolio:

  • Redeem your discarded funds at a time when it seems right. There is no exact formula but you can observe the trends and take a call. For example, if the Nifty reaches a level between 10800 and 11000 now it will be a good time to redeem the funds that you do not want to be in any more.
  • There is no rush in this, your investments are growing even if you have discarded the funds logically from your portfolio. Once you have redeemed the funds be in cash or keep the money in a liquid fund, till it is time to buy.
  • Invest the above money through one time purchases of the funds in your new portfolio at an appropriate time.

As you can see from here realignment of the portfolio is a fairly simple exercise, once you are clear about the mechanism. If you feel that you need to do it, the right time to start is NOW. In case you are not invested in the right funds then any further investment in them is completely senseless.

In case you have any questions on realigning your portfolio, comment on this post and I will be happy to clarify.

Interested readers may pls follow my blog on email by clicking on the relevant button on the right hand panel. I will shortly be stopping the practice of posting the links in different Facebook groups. Following the blog will ensure you get intimated whenever there is a new post.

Equity MF dividends – the whole story

After my last few posts I am getting a lot of enquiries from people as to what they should do about their schemes with dividend options now. Many are unclear about the tax and how will it be treated in their hands. In this post I wanted to demystify the dividends from equity MF and suggest ways about how you can deal with them.

To begin with let us understand how a Dividend option of an MF scheme is different from a stock. Any company, whose stock you hold, will pay you dividends from the profits that it makes in a quarter or year. Based on the amount of dividend paid the stock price will normally fall initially but may well rise later. In the case of a Dividend paying MF scheme, the dividends are being paid out from the assets held by the scheme. As some of these assets are liquidated the NAV of the fund will necessarily fall after a dividend is declared. Yes, it may rise again if the stocks in the MF scheme portfolio do well but it is fundamentally different from the stocks.

Let us now examine the taxation aspect of dividends before and after the budget. When a company declared dividends it was out of the profits where taxes have already been paid by the company. Therefore the dividend that investors received was tax free. In the case of equity MF schemes too they did not pay any holding tax and whatever dividend the investor got was again tax free in their hands. After the budget the situation remains the same for stocks but has definitely changed for MF schemes. These will now have to hold a tax of 10 % before distributing the dividends to the investors. This is the Dividend Distribution Tax ( DDT ) newly introduced in this budget. Remember that Debt funds always had a DDT of more than 28 % earlier and continue to do so.

How does this change things for you now? Well, for one you will have lower dividends for your equity MF schemes due to the DDT. Typically this will be 10 % lower. It will continue to be tax free in your hands. For example, I had invested 2 lacs in the dividend option of a  Value Fund series NFO from ICICI. Every year I would get 15000 Rs dividend from this investment. All things remaining equal, the value of this dividend after the new DDT rule will be 13500. If an investor is depending on these dividends for passive income then he will need to get this shortfall from somewhere else.

In general Dividend option is not a good idea for equity MF now – note that companies pay tax on their earnings and this is reflected in the stock price and also the level of dividend they pay to their investors. Equity MF are investing in these companies and are again paying DDT. Finally when you redeem these investments you will again be charged LTCG tax at 10 %. It will be much better to just deal with the Growth option where you just pay LTCG tax when you redeem your units.

Let us now look at some classes of investors who are currently invested in these MF schemes and what they should do about it:-

  • If you are in the active income earning stage of your life, there is no logic in having Dividend options for your MF schemes. Change all of them to growth. Even if you need the money you will be better off just redeeming some units as and when you need to do so.
  • If you had chosen this option in order to do some explicit profit booking by the Fund houses then your concept was wrong. Fund Managers will churn their portfolios as and when required and these benefits will reflect in the NAV of your scheme. There is really no need to invest in the Dividend option for it. You should also change it to Growth option.
  • People in the retired or FI state may have invested in these schemes as a means of getting regular income. Some Balanced funds have schemes where they distribute a monthly dividend. Note that all of these are subject to DDT now – so either you will get less dividend in your hands or the fund NAV will fall more if the same dividend is to be maintained.

Except in the last case, where some people may want a hassle free receipt of dividend as compared to redeeming units on their own, there is really no point in Dividend options of MF schemes now. In fact, with online redeeming being possible, anyone can sell units of MF schemes rather easily and I will definitely recommend that.

Short conclusion to the story – change all your MF schemes to Growth option right now!!

How should you invest in Mutual funds now?

Whichever way you want to look at it, the Finance minister has definitely sent all MF investors in a tizzy with his LTCG taxation on equity. This was always likely to happen and many investors, used to a diet of high growth with no taxes to account for, are shocked and wondering what they should do with their existing investments and new ones. I will give you a very clear recipe in this post that you can follow effectively.

To begin with, the popularity of MF investment through SIP were due to two main factors. The first was the marketing skills of the Fund houses and the awareness on inflation created by the myriad financial blogs and Facebook groups. Investors realised that traditional investments such as Fixed deposits, PPF, LIC schemes, Bonds etc would not keep pace with inflation and they had to look at equity to a certain extent for meeting their important life goals. For these set of people, investing in MF seemed like a less risky idea as compared to direct equity. The successful model of sales and distribution put in place by Fund houses have ensured that they have mopped up amounts nearing 1 lac crore annually.

However, there was another reason which many are not cognisant about. When the Finance minister change the LTCG indexation benefits from 1 year to 3 years in his first budget, he actively pushed people away from schemes like Fixed Maturity Plans. With declining interest rates, longer holding period and reduced inflation unfavourably affecting the indexation benefits, suddenly Debt funds were really not a good option for people wanting to park their money in short term. The Fund houses responded by coming up with schemes like Arbitrage funds and Equity Savings funds where the safety was greater than pure equity funds, returns were better than Debt funds and the holding period needed to be one year only for getting tax exempt returns. Many Fund houses even offered monthly dividend on Balanced MF schemes which were particularly suited to retired people, in search of a regular monthly income.

Thanks to the FM all this is a matter of the past now. Given the current situation, how should you deal with your MF investments? I have put together some simple guidelines for different types of investors, that will give you a clear road map of what you should do:-

  • If you are an investor whose goals are still some time off:-
    • Keep investing in your SIP as before but add 10 % to the amount for taking care of the eventual taxation.
    • Make sure you have only Growth option schemes in your portfolio as it makes little sense to get dividends now, unless you really need it.
    • If you have set up STP for your monthly flows into SIP, evaluate if this makes sense. You will be taxed for selling the funds now.
    • As churning is detrimental to your returns now, make sure you select the right MF schemes and stick to them for the long term. Yes, you still need to review etc but change the scheme only when really needed.
    • The longer you hold your investments the better it will be for you. Redeem only when you actually need the money, not otherwise.
  • If you are an investor with major goals coming up:-
    • Check out if you can meet your goals through existing Debt investments and keep your MF investments running for a longer term.
    • If this does not work, redeem from your MF schemes only the amount you need right now for the goal. For example if your child’s college fees are 20 lacs in 4 years and 5 lacs per year, then redeem only to the extent of 5 lacs.
    • If the markets manage to go up beyond the Jan 31st levels within March ( this is unlikely, but you never know ), redeem your MF units to the extent of the money you need for your goals in the next Financial year.
    • As before, avoid Dividend options and if you have any MF schemes with these then change it to Growth.
  • If you are retired or in need of regular passive income in your Financially independent state:-
    • If you had set up Arbitrage funds, Equity Savings funds or invested in Dividend option of some close ended equity NFO’s check your taxation impact and decide if it is making sense.
    • If you are a senior citizen take advantage of the 50000 Rs interest exemption and the LIC scheme with 8 % interest.
    • Rearrange your MF investments so that you only get the Dividend amounts that you need regularly. For any sudden or unplanned expenditure, you can always redeem your MF units within a day.
    • Do not churn your MF investments needlessly, you will end up paying more taxes by doing this.
    • Finally, even in the new tax regime, do not give up on equity MF. It is important for you to remain invested as a hedge to inflation.

As you can see from above, there is a need to take stock and possible reorganise your MF portfolio. However equity as an asset class and Mutual funds as an investment vehicle are still the best in the business and you should continue to bet on them.

If you have any specific queries I will be happy to answer them through my Blog or through the two Facebook groups that I run.