A mutual fund is a type of financial vehicle made up of a pool of money collected from many investors to invest in securities like stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets. Mutual funds are operated by professional fund managers, who allocate the fund’s assets and attempt to produce capital gains or income for the fund’s investors
Types of mutual fund on asset class
- Equity Funds: These are funds that invest in equity stocks/shares of companies. These are considered high-risk funds but also tend to provide high returns. Equity funds can include specialty funds like infrastructure, fast moving consumer goods and banking to name a few. THey are linked to the markets and tend to
- Debt Funds: These are funds that invest in debt instruments e.g. company debentures, government bonds and other fixed income assets. They are considered safe investments and provide fixed returns. These funds do not deduct tax at source so if the earning from the investment is more than Rs. 10,000 then the investor is liable to pay the tax on it himself.
- Money Market Funds: These are funds that invest in liquid instruments e.g. T-Bills, CPs etc. They are considered safe investments for those looking to park surplus funds for immediate but moderate returns. Money markets are also referred to as cash markets and come with risks in terms of interest risk, reinvestment risk and credit risks.
- Balanced or Hybrid Funds: These are funds that invest in a mix of asset classes. In some cases, the proportion of equity is higher than debt while in others it is the other way round. Risk and returns are balanced out this way. An example of a hybrid fund would be Franklin India Balanced Fund-DP (G) because in this fund, 65% to 80% of the investment is made in equities and the remaining 20% to 35% is invested in the debt market. This is so because the debt markets offer a lower risk than the equity market.
Types of Mutual Funds based on investment objective
- Growth funds: Under these schemes, money is invested primarily in equity stocks with the purpose of providing capital appreciation. They are considered to be risky funds ideal for investors with a long-term investment timeline. Since they are risky funds they are also ideal for those who are looking for higher returns on their investments.
- Income funds: Under these schemes, money is invested primarily in fixed-income instruments e.g. bonds, debentures etc. with the purpose of providing capital protection and regular income to investors.
- Liquid funds: Under these schemes, money is invested primarily in short-term or very short-term instruments e.g. T-Bills, CPs etc. with the purpose of providing liquidity. They are considered to be low on risk with moderate returns and are ideal for investors with short-term investment timelines.
- Tax-Saving Funds (ELSS): These are funds that invest primarily in equity shares. Investments made in these funds qualify for deductions under the Income Tax Act. They are considered high on risk but also offer high returns if the fund performs well.
- Capital Protection Funds: These are funds where funds are are split between investment in fixed income instruments and equity markets. This is done to ensure protection of the principal that has been invested.
- Fixed Maturity Funds: Fixed maturity funds are those in which the assets are invested in debt and money market instruments where the maturity date is either the same as that of the fund or earlier than it.
- Pension Funds: Pension funds are mutual funds that are invested in with a really long term goal in mind. They are primarily meant to provide regular returns around the time that the investor is ready to retire. The investments in such a fund may be split between equities and debt markets where equities act as the risky part of the investment providing higher return and debt markets balance the risk and provide lower but steady returns. The returns from these funds can be taken in lump sums, as a pension or a combination of the two.
Types of Mutual Funds based on specialty
- Sector Funds: These are funds that invest in a particular sector of the market e.g. Infrastructure funds invest only in those instruments or companies that relate to the infrastructure sector. Returns are tied to the performance of the chosen sector. The risk involved in these schemes depends on the nature of the sector.
- Index Funds: These are funds that invest in instruments that represent a particular index on an exchange so as to mirror the movement and returns of the index e.g. buying shares representative of the BSE Sensex.
- Fund of funds: These are funds that invest in other mutual funds and returns depend on the performance of the target fund. These funds can also be referred to as multi manager funds. These investments can be considered relatively safe because the funds that investors invest in actually hold other funds under them thereby adjusting for risk from any one fund.
- Emerging market funds: These are funds where investments are made in developing countries that show good prospects for the future. They do come with higher risks as a result of the dynamic political and economic situations prevailing in the country.
- International funds: These are also known as foreign funds and offer investments in companies located in other parts of the world. These companies could also be located in emerging economies. The only companies that won’t be invested in will be those located in the investor’s own country.
- Global funds: These are funds where the investment made by the fund can be in a company in any part of the world. They are different from international/foreign funds because in global funds, investments can be made even the investor’s own country.
- Real estate funds: These are the funds that invest in companies that operate in the real estate sectors. These funds can invest in realtors, builders, property management companies and even in companies providing loans. The investment in the real estate can be made at any stage, including projects that are in the planning phase, partially completed and are actually completed.
- Commodity focused stock funds: These funds don’t invest directly in the commodities. They invest in companies that are working in the commodities market, such as mining companies or producers of commodities. These funds can, at times, perform the same way the commodity is as a result of their association with their production.
- Market neutral funds: The reason that these funds are called market neutral is that they don’t invest in the markets directly. They invest in treasury bills, ETFs and securities and try to target a fixed and steady growth.
- Inverse/leveraged funds: These are funds that operate unlike traditional mutual funds. The earnings from these funds happen when the markets fall and when markets do well these funds tend to go into loss. These are generally meant only for those who are willing to incur massive losses but at the same time can provide huge returns as well, as a result of the higher risk they carry.
- Asset allocation funds: The asset allocation fund comes in two variants, the target date fund and the target allocation funds. In these funds, the portfolio managers can adjust the allocated assets to achieve results. These funds split the invested amounts and invest it in various instruments like bonds and equity.
- Gilt Funds: Gilt funds are mutual funds where the funds are invested in government securities for a long term. Since they are invested in government securities, they are virtually risk free and can be the ideal investment to those who don’t want to take risks.
- Exchange traded funds: These are funds that are a mix of both open and close ended mutual funds and are traded on the stock markets. These funds are not actively managed, they are managed passively and can offer a lot of liquidity. As a result of their being managed passively, they tend to have lower service charges (entry/exit load) associated with them.