How long should you stay invested in mutual funds?

The struggle to stay committed to investments is as real as it is to stay committed to a human. How long your relationship with your mutual funds is a function of your need for that investment and your risk profile. 


Based on tenure of your goals


Invest based on your goal tenure: Investing is very simple if we understand all the rules. Goal based investing is based on the tenure of your goals.

  • Short term goals are less than 3 years goals.
  • Long term goals are more than 3 years goals


Invest in mutual funds by first identifying for which goal you are investing, what is the tenure of that goal and then invest till that goal is accomplished. Now where you invest to achieve that goal is a function of your risk profile. (we have discussed that here)

  • Short term goals are less than 3 years goals. - Debt Mutual Funds (short term)
  • Long term goals are more than 3 years goals - Mix of debt & Equity (as per your risk profile)


Invest in Equity for long term for higher gains and managed risk


Invest in equity for the long term to reduce the risk of investing in equity. Compound and grow your wealth and eventually achieve your long term goals. Lets understand how your long term goals will be achieved by investing in Equity. 


For instance, in 2010, if Rakhi had a goal of financing her child’s education and back then she knew that 12 years later i.e. in 2023 for her child’s Graduation, she would need around 1 crore for the same she would invest in the below mentioned manner (based on our recommendations)


From our savings calculator, you would have known that you need to invest INR 42,000 each month for the next 10 years (based on the assumption that you have a growth profile and would earn 12.6% returns from the same).


Now based on our investment plan - she would put 70% in equity and balance 30% in debt. Hence, from INR 30,000 if she invested 21,000 in Nippon India Growth Fund ( a mid cap Mutual Fund) each month for the past 10 years and stayed with the fund through all ups and downs, she would have made 17.10% return. Do note that when you are investing for a long term goal it will eventually turn into a short term goal and in the last 2 or 3 years remaining for the goal, you must shift your investments to debt and discontinue investing in Equity.


Hence, in case of Rakhi, she would invest in Nippon India Growth Fund till 2021 and then discontinue the same. For 2021, 2022, and 2023, she would invest the entire 30,000 INR in debt.


As per the returns, in 2021, she would have an equity corpus of INR 98.31 lakhs and a debt corpus of INR 21 lakhs. A total of INR 1.19 crores was accumulated in 2021. Given the goal is 2 years away, we advise Rakhi to gradually move her Equity exposure to debt to avoid any last minute volatility. Where the goal's value would have changed and Rakhi decides to continue her 30,000 investments, she can invest the same in Debt. 

(image from value research)


Please note that the context of this article is that you must invest for the long term in Equity only where your goal is long term. Over the long term, the risk of equity also reduces as we can see in the case of Nippon India Growth Fund from the image above. Long term investing results in higher gains due to compounding. Still people do not make returns, because they cannot stay committed to their mutual funds.


Do people actually stay invested for long term

Nippon India Growth Fund, launched in October 1995 as a mid-cap scheme, completed 26 years in October 2021 delivering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.91%. Since launch, the fund has grown 207 times over. In other words, ₹1 lakh invested in the fund at the start would now be worth ₹2.07 crore.

However, according to data released by the fund house, only 2,600 investors have stayed with the fund since inception and their average assets under management (AUM) is a mere ₹5 lakh. In other words, this cohort of patient investors would have invested just ₹2,415 on average at the time when this fund was launched. (source of this data is from mint - https://www.livemint.com/mutual-fund/mf-news/nippon-amc-sheds-light-on-missing-mf-millionaires-11634232789297.html)

The effect of your money staying invested for longer is far more than getting in at the right time. Not many investors had stayed put for more than 15 years. Unfortunately, people try to time the market. The fund had been managed by various fund managers over time, and has weathered numerous economic events, including the dot com bust, the 2008 crisis, 2013 taper tantrum and covid in 2020.

Wealth Café Advise:

As investors, learn to be more disciplined and focused on the long term and do not get carried away by market volatility.

According to the study conducted by Axis Mutual Fund, four behavioral traits affect investors’ returns:

  • They overreact to market sentiment.
  • They focus too much on short-term market or fund performance.
  • They don’t follow an asset allocation strategy.
  • And, finally, they tend to invest haphazardly, rather than systematically.


Check our course- NM 104: Basics of Mutual Funds - to learn more about Mutual Funds in detail.

Disclaimer: - The articles are for information purposes only. Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. You must consult a financial advisor who understands your specific circumstances and situation before taking an investment decision.

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