What are the factors you must check when you are looking at a mutual fund?

Are you someone investing in mutual funds using app filters like 4-5 stars or sorting it based on highest to lowest returns? Do you invest in mutual funds with low NAV and believe you bought it for cheap? Do you feel that lower the expense ratio of a mutual fund scheme, cheaper the investment for you? Do you make mutual fund investments based on hearsay or advice from your relatives, colleagues or train companions? Or, are you investing in the Best 2021 Mutual Funds suggested on someone's Instagram reels?

Well, if your answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you are at the right place. Selecting a mutual fund is an art and science that is tough to learn but rewarding in the long run.


Personal Needs: Your Individual requirements

  1. Investment Objective - Every investor has an objective, a set of goals behind their investments. We all save and invest money to achieve our goals such as travelling, buying a car, buying a house etc. If nothing, then the basic objective of achieving wealth creation or financial freedom is a must for everyone. So before you start your investment it is important to pen down your goals along with the amount needed for that goal. You can learn more about this on this article here - Goal based investment
  2. Goal Tenure - Once your objective is in place, you need to calculate the time required to achieve that goal. It will also help you to choose the right investment for you. Simply put - short term goals - invest in debt ; long term goals - invest in a mix of debt & equity as per risk profile.
  3. Risk Profile - Now that you know the amount you need and when you need it, the next step is to understand your risk profile i.e. how do you want to reach the amount that you need. You must understand how much risk you are comfortable taking to achieve your goals. A person with an aggressive risk profile has a higher risk taking capacity and can invest, say 80% of his savings, in equity whereas a conservative person would invest a lot less in equities. The idea is that you take only so much risk that allows you to sleep peacefully, invest consistently and have a smooth ride to achieving your goals. Know more about your risk profile and how it helps you invest better in this article - What is a risk profile? How to invest basis that?

Quantitative factors: Evaluating the Fund

1. Past Return Performance

Past performance of a Fund is a starting point of what to expect from investing in a fund. However, ensure that you do not look at this number in isolation.

  • Every mutual fund scheme has a benchmark against which it tracks and evaluates its performance. Check how the mutual fund scheme has performed compared to its benchmark. Has it been under-performing its benchmark or been able to beat the benchmark consistently?
  • You should then check the returns of the mutual fund in comparison to other funds in the same category. If you are choosing a Large cap fund, you must check how well your fund has performed in comparison to other large cap funds.

All this while you must bear in mind that there is no guarantee of the past performance of the fund being repeated in the future.

2. Risk Statistics

Risk is uncertainty and variability in returns. Returns are the result of managing the risk. Some of the statistics that will help you understand the risk your fund is taking to achieve the returns you just analyzed include:.  

  1. Standard Deviation: It measures the mutual funds’ investment risk and is indicative of the stability of returns of a portfolio. With this information, you can judge the range of returns your fund is likely to generate in the future. Higher the standard deviation of a fund, higher is the risk associated with the investment.
  2. Beta: It measures volatility of the fund compared to its benchmark. If the beta of a scheme is more than 1, then the scheme is more volatile than its benchmark. If beta is less than 1, then the scheme is less volatile than the benchmark. Lower the beta, lower the risk associated with the fund. 
  3. Sharpe Ratio: Unlike the previous two measures, the Sharpe Ratio gives you the risk adjusted returns of a portfolio. If two funds have similar returns, the one with the higher standard deviation will have a lower Sharpe Ratio. A fund with a higher Sharpe Ratio is considered better than its peers as it is able to deliver higher risk adjusted returns.

3.  AUM of the Fund

AUM is the total amount invested by that particular fund. It is the total market value of the assets that a mutual fund manages at a given point in time. 

Only because a Fund has a large AUM, it does not mean it is a good Fund. You need to consider other factors as well. Having said that, avoid Mutual Fund Schemes that have a very small AUM as the returns from such schemes can be very volatile and subject to large movements on exit by large investors of that scheme.

4. Cost of the fund:

As with any business, running a mutual fund involves costs. This cost is called the Expense Ratio. If you have 2 identical funds w.r.t. to the above discussed parameters, then you choose the fund with the lower Expense Ratio. Check out our article to understand it more in detail

III. Qualitative factors: Fund Manager and Fund’s philosophy

The fund manager is the professional who takes the investment decisions for your money after you invest in a scheme. The fund manager plays a key role in how your investment performs, as he/she is the person to decide on which stocks or securities to invest and how to distribute the money for a particular mutual fund. 

Obviously the Fund manager is not alone and he has a team helping him do the analysis and his decisions will be based on the Objectives of the particular Scheme and the overall Fund Management philosophy.  

Apart from looking at the qualifications of the Fund Manager, you must look at his experience and how long he has been managing the Mutual Fund Scheme and the performance of the Fund under him. Longer his tenure with the fund with a consistent performance should give you confidence in selecting the Fund.

A strong Mutual Fund team, guided by well defined Investment Fund Philosophy will be a great aid to an experienced Fund Manager.

Wealth Café  Advice: 

These pointers will give you a headstart to start evaluating the various Mutual funds schemes and shortlist them. You need to regularly track these parameters of your invested Funds, track the Fund Managers and see how your Fund is performing vis-à-vis the market. 

If your day to day job does not give you the time to keep a track of your funds, you can always consult an expert whoa will do this for you. If you want us to manage your investment, you can learn more about us at ria.wealthcafe.in and reach out to us.

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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