Mutual Fund

What is a Mutual Fund
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle made up of a pool of moneys collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and other assets. Mutual funds are operated by professional money managers, who allocate the funds investments and attempt to produce capital gains and/or income for the funds investors.

Mutual funds give small or individual investors access to professionally managed portfolios of equities, bonds and other securities. Each shareholder, therefore, participates proportionally in the gains or losses of the fund. Mutual funds invest in a wide amount of securities, and performance is usually tracked as the change in the total market cap of the fund, derived by aggregating performance of the underlying investments.

Mutual fund units, or shares, can typically be purchased or redeemed as needed at the funds current net asset value (NAV) per share, which is sometimes expressed as NAVPS. A funds NAV is derived by dividing the total value of the securities in the portfolio by the total amount of shares outstanding.

Type of Mutual Fund Schemes
Mutual Fund schemes could be open ended or close-ended and actively managed or passively managed.

Open-ended and closed-end funds
An open-end fund is a mutual fund scheme that is available for subscription and redemption on every business throughout the year, (akin to a savings bank account, wherein one may deposit and withdraw money every day). An open ended scheme is perpetual and does not have any maturity date.

A closed-end fund is open for subscription only during the initial offer period and has a specified tenor and fixed maturity date (akin to a fixed term deposit). Units of Closed-end funds can be redeemed only on maturity (i.e., pre-mature redemption is not permitted). Hence, the Units of a closed-end fund are compulsorily listed on a stock exchange after the new fund offer, and are traded on the stock exchange just like other stocks, so that investors seeking to exit the scheme before maturity may sell their Units on the exchange.

Actively managed and passively managed funds
An actively managed fund is a mutual fund scheme in which the fund manager “actively” manages the portfolio and continuously monitors the funds portfolio , deciding on which stocks to buy/sell/hold and when, using his professional judgement, backed by analytical research. In an active fund, the fund manager’s aim is to generate maximum returns and out-perform the scheme’s bench mark.

A passively managed fund, by contrast, simply follows a market index, i.e., in a passive fund , the fund manager remains inactive or passive inasmuch as, she does not use her judgement or discretion to decide as to which stocks to buy/sell/hold , but simply replicates / tracks the scheme’s benchmark index in exactly the same proportion. Examples of Index funds are an Index Fund and all Exchange Traded Funds. In a passive fund, the fund manager’s task is to simply replicate the scheme’s benchmark index i.e., generate the same returns as the index, and not to out-perform the scheme’s bench mark.

Chart 1: Risk/Return trade-off by mutual fund category