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Is the interest amount credited to your bank account correct?

Debt Avenues have been the most popular investment choice in India because of the safety of principal amount and assured fixed returns. Although the returns are fixed, it is very important to understand how and on what balance the interest is calculated. Also, whether it is compounded interest or simple interest and when the interest is credited to your account. Here is a summary. Employees Provident Fund(EPF): The rate of interest is fixed by the Central Government in consultation with the Central Board of trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund every year during March/April. The rate of interest for the year 2017-18 has been notified as 8.55%. The interest is credited to the members account on the monthly running balance with effect from the last day in each year. The interest earned each year is added to the EPF balance and earns interest in subsequent years at the notified rate. Public Provident Fund(PPF): The interest is paid as per the rates declared by the Government from time to time. The current rate of return on the PPF account is 7.6%, compounded annually. Interest is calculated for a calendar month on the lowest balance in the account between the close of the fifth and the last day of the month. However, it is credited to the account only at the end of each year. Ensure that deposits into the PPF account are made by the 5th of a month in order to earn interest for that month. Senior Citizen Savings Scheme(SCSS): Amount deposited in a Senior Citizen Savings account earns a simple interest of 9% per annum and is PAID OUT to the investor at the end of each quarter(March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31). Interest not claimed at the end of any quarter does not earn any additional interest. Having the quarterly interest transferred to a regular savings accounts enables you to earn interest on the unutilised amount in the savings account. Post Office Monthly Income Scheme(PO MIS): Amount deposited in the PO MIS account earns a simple interest of 7.7% per annum is PAID OUT to the investor at the end of each month. Interest not withdrawn does not earn any interest. Here again, having the monthly interest transferred to a regular savings accounts enables you to earn interest on the unutilised amount in the savings account. Post Office Time Deposit: A PO Time Deposit earns a simple interest each year based on the tenure of the deposit which is paid out to the investor at the end of each year. If the deposit is not withdrawn on maturity, it will earn a simple rate of interest paid on Savings account (only 3.50%) and that too for a maximum period of two years post maturity. Savings Bank Account: A Savings Bank account earns a return of 3.5% per annum based on the daily weighted average balance. Some banks pay the interest monthly while most banks pay the interest quarterly. Generally, the interest credited to the account is taken as correct with hardly any investors verifying the amounts received. With most of operations going computerised, the scope of error is less. But, it will good to do a test check once in a while to satisfy oneself about the mathematical accuracy. Specially in case of instruments like EPF and PPF accounts which still follow a manual cum computerised system. Also, in case of some of the Schemes, the interest paid out does not earn any interest if it is not collected at the time of payout. Same thing applies if the principal is not collected on maturity. This should be kept in mind to avoid losing out on returns.
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How to check EPF balance?

There was a time when checking your EPF balance or withdrawing the same was a very tedious task. People had to write endless emails, follow up with their employers, Employee Provident Fund Organsation (EPFO) etc. to obtain the information.

The process is now available online and you can check your EPF balance through the following means:

EPF passbook with UAN:

The UAN is a 12-digit number allotted to each Employee Provident Fund member by the EPFO which gives him control of his EPF account and minimizes the role of the employer. UAN number activation started in Oct 2014. You can download the EPF passbook if you have activated your UAN number. Refer our Article on UAN for a step by step process to view the same.

EPF UAN passbook is available at http://www.epfindia.gov.in  >> Our Services >> For Employees >> Member Passbook or e-Passbook on right hand side of the home page of EPF.

e-Passbook contains transaction details of an individual’s account

You can also download the e-passbook in .pdf format.

This facility is to view the Member Passbook for the members registered on the Unified Member Portal.

Passbook will be available after 6 Hours of registration at Unified Member Portal.

Changes in the password at Unified Member Portal will be effective at this Portal after 6 Hours.

Passbook will have the entries which have been reconciled at the EPFO field offices.

Passbook facility is not available for the Exempted Establishments Members / Settled Members / In-Operative Members.

Check EPF balance with Umang App

Download Mobile App ‘Umang’ from Google Play store. You can also view your monthly credits through the passbook as well view your details available with EPFO.

Unified Mobile Application is an evolving platform designed for citizens of India to offer them access to the pan India e-Government services from the Central, State, Local Bodies, and Agencies of government on app, web, SMS, and IVR channelsIt will integrate almost 200 government services by 2019 across departments, allowing people to work seamlessly with the government.

It is available as a website https://web.umang.gov.in/ and as a mobile App on Android, Windows and iOS platform. Download the Umang app from your respective app store such as Google Play Store for Android users.

Once you have the app follow the below steps to view your EPFO transactions:

  • Select EPFO
  • You will find three types of services namely – Employee Centric, General services & Employer centric services.
  • Select Employee Centric Services.  You will see View passbook, Raise claim & Track Claim
  • By Clicking View Passbookyou can see the passbook.

EPF Balance by Missed Call 

If you have a valid UAN, your mobile number too will be registered with the EPF department. A missed call to 011 229 01 406, at no cost, will ensure that you receive an SMS that lists down your PF number, age and name as per the EPF record. This facility is available only to UAN members. You must register yourself on UAN to avail this service.

EPF balance by SMS:

If your UAN is registered with EPFO, you can get details of your latest contribution and the PF balance by sending an SMS to 7738299899. You need to send this message: EPFOHO UAN ENG. ENG is the first three characters of the preferred language. So, if you want to receive the message in Marathi, then type in EPFOHO UAN MAR.

The facility is available in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Bengali. It has become very easy to check balance of your EPF account. Checking it regularly and reviewing it upto you as an investor.    

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Risk Involved in Investing in Debt

Risk refers to uncertainty in returns. Debt instruments are considered less riskier than Equities because there is a lesser uncertainty in the returns one can expect from Debt Instruments. Never the less, following are the major risks are involved in investing in Debt Securities.

Interest-Rate Risk

Fixed income securities such as bonds, debentures and money market instruments face interest-rate risk. Generally, when interest rates rise, prices of existing fixed income securities fall and when interest rates drop, prices of fixed income securities increase.

For example: If a Rs. 100 par value security offers 9% rate of return, and the prevailing rate of interest increases from 9% to 10%, the values of the security will fall below Rs. 100 because it offers a lower rate of return(9%) compared to the market return(10%). The extent of fall or rise in the prices depends on the existing coupon rate, time to maturity of the security and the quantum of increase or decrease in the interest rates.

Credit Risk

In simple terms this means that the issuer of a debenture/bond or a money market instrument may default on interest payment or in paying back the principal amount on maturity. Even if no default occurs, the price of the security may go down if the credit rating of the issuer of the debt instrument goes down.

Investment in Government securities has zero Credit Risk as the Government is not expected to default on its obligations.

Liquidity Risk

This refers to the ease with which a security can be sold at or near to its market value. Liquidity risk can be measured by the difference between the buy price (bid price) and the sell price (offer price) quoted by a dealer. Larger the difference, greater is the Liquidity Risk. Indian Debt market has a higher Liquidity risk compared to Global Debt market, because of low trading volumes in the Indian Debt market.

Reinvestment Risk

If interest rates fall, the coupon payments being received on fixed income securities will have to be re-invested at the lower prevailing interest rate. This is known as Reinvestment Risk.

For example: If you are receiving 9% coupon on a fixed income security, and the prevailing interest rates are 7.5%, the coupon payment received will have to be invested at the lower rate of 7.5%.

As zero coupon securities do not provide any periodic interest payments they do not have Reinvestment risk. However, they have a higher interest rate risk.

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Basic of Employee Provident Fund (EPF)

“Every month I save my salary into EPF and it is a great form of investment” I have heard this way too many times. When I asked them if they knew what EPF is and how is EPF a great investment? Not many people were able to answer this question.

People just know that 12% of their salary goes into an EPF account and it is  a great form of investment and savings.  EPF being a primary investment for salaried individuals, you must know everything about it. Hence, we have written a detailed article about everything that you would want to and must know about your EPF investments.

What is EPF?

EPF is retirement benefit scheme that is generally available to all salaried employees and forms an important tool for financial planning.

Basically, EPF is like a guaranteed investment as the amount is deducted from your salary before the same is paid to you and invested. You might skip on your SIP or Insurance premium, but your EPF will be deducted from your salary each month.

Regulatory guidelines

Under Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, EPF has two components namely Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme 1952 and Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 (EPS). These are two different retirement saving schemes under which any salaried individual is covered if he/she is drawing more than INR 6,500 per month as basic salary.

Structure

There are 2 contributions into the EPF.

  • Employee, 12 % of your basic salary (and DA if any) is invested into the EPF account.
  • Employer contributes further 12% of your basic pay from his side into the EPF.
  • Thus, total of 24% of your basic pay (plus DA, if any) is invested each month..

Contribution to EPF & EPS

There are a few components of EPF such as below.

SchemeEmployee’s Contribution of basic pay (+ DA if any)Employer’s Contribution of basic pay
EPF12% of basic pay3.67% (where salary is upto INR 15,000)
  12% of basic pay less 1250 towards EPS (where salary is more than INR 15,000)
EPSNil8.33% of basic (where salary is upto INR 15,000
  INR 1250 per month (where salary is more than INR 15,000)
EDLISNil0.5% (capped at maximum of INR 15,000)

EPF – Employee Provident Fund

  • The money contributed towards EPF is invested and managed by a trust and the employee earns interest from 8% to 12% on the same (depending on the results of a specific year).
  • The corpus of EPF is received as a lumpsum amount on fulfillment of certain conditions.
  • Entire Employee’s contribution goes towards EPF.
  • A part of employer’s contribution goes towards EPF.
  • Where the salary is INR 15,000 3.67% of the same is contributed towards EPF.
  • Where the salary is more than INR 15,000, the employer has an option of investing INR 1250 towards EPS and balance towards EPF and EDLIS. The same depends upon the Employer.

EPS – Employee Pension Scheme

(Refer our Article on EPS )

  • EPS offers pension on disablement, widow pension, and pension for nominees.
  • No interest is earned on EPS. If your corpus of INR 3 lakhs is accumulated through EPS, you would get INR 3 lakhs as pension money.
  • No amount from the employee contribution goes towards EPS.
  • A part of employer contribution goes towards EPS.
  • Where salary is INR 15,000 or more, 8.33% of INR 15,000 is compulsory contributed towards EPS i.e. INR 1250 each month is to be contributed to EPS.

EDLIS – Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme

(Refer our Article  on EDLIS )

  • Provides for a lump sum payment to the insured’s nominated beneficiary in the event of death due to natural causes, illness or accident, while in job.
  • Premium for the EDLI is entirely funded by the employer, which contributes 0.5% of monthly basic pay (capped at a maximum of INR 15,000) as premium for life cover in case the organization does not have a group insurance scheme for its employees.
  • Maximum amount insured under EDLIS is INR 6 lakhs.
                                                                                                  is a risk free, tax free long term debt investment.

Tax benefits

The employer contribution is exempt from tax up to 12% contribution while employee’s contribution is eligible for tax benefit under Section 80 C of the Income-Tax Act, 1961. EPF is under the EEE norm currently indicating that the money invested, interest earned and the money withdrawn after a specified period (5 years) are all exempted from income tax in the hands of the employee.

Nomination

EPF provides you with nomination facility whereby mother, father, spouse or children can be nominated for receiving the proceeds at the time of death of an employee. Government, currently, doesn’t allow nominating siblings.

Transfer and withdrawal policy

  • If a person is not employed for two months at a stretch, there is a provision by which he/she can choose to withdraw EPF.
  • It is advisable to transfer the existing EPF with previous employer to new employer while switching jobs.
  • The process of transfer of EPF is now seamless with the introduction of Universal Account Number (UAN) which is discussed in detail in subsequent para.
  • If you withdraw the EPF amount before completion of five years with an employer the corpus withdrawn is taxed as per your current income tax slabs as the amount withdrawn is then added to your gross salary.
  • Further, withdrawal is generally not permissible if the person is still working.
  • Withdrawal is possible in following cases: children’s higher education, marriage, medical treatment, home loan repayment, construction of house, purchase of flat, etc.
  • Non-refundable advances are also allowed after having completed minimum five years of membership.
  • In case your service is less than 10 years and you have opted for withdrawal on account of no job, an employee is entitled for 100% of EPF including interest on EPF. In addition, employee is also entitled for receiving EPS contribution that is computed based on withdrawal benefit (on pension). Refer our Article on EPS to understand the same in detail.

Receiving pension

An employee start receiving pension from EPS amount after completion of minimum 10 years of service and attaining the age of 58 or 50 years. The pension amount is payable to the subscriber until he is alive and in the event of death of the employee, members of his family -whoever is nominated is entitled for the pension. Monthly pension is determined based on ‘pensionable service’ and ‘pensionable salary’ for which the following formula is generally used:

Monthly pension = (Pensionable salary X Pensionable service) ÷ 70

It is worth noting here that the pensionable salary is nothing but your basic salary on which you have paid EPS premium. Thus, monthly pension will have received will be nowhere closer to real CTC.

Top-up on EPF (Voluntary Provident Fund)

Yes, you can always invest more than 12% of regular contribution. However, any amount over and above EPF is termed as Voluntary Provident Fund or the VPF. In this case the excess amount is invested in EPF and is eligible interest benefit.

UAN services and other recent developments

UAN is a unique number assigned to an employee and it indicates that the subscriber is availing Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) service. EPFO generally manages the money in your EPF account.

UAN number is fixed throughout the lifetime and has portable flexibility. Thus, when an employee changes job his new EPF account which will have different account number and will be opened by new employer can be linked directly to UAN.  Thus, UAN acts as an umbrella of multiple EPF IDs allotted to an employee by different firms.

EPFO, in a recent development, introduced the facility of linking Aadhar (unique id) to UAN. This would help the member avail facility in a better and seamless manner. The facility is available at the official website http://www.epfindia.gov.in under Online Services section.

Benefits of Linking UAN With Aadhaar

  • Receive monthly updates on registered mobile number
  • Download e-passbook anytime
  • Submit claims directly to EPFO without any mediation of employer
  • Link multiple EPF accounts allotted over the years
  • Edit and update personal details

Refer our Article to understand the interest calculation on EPF and the amount due to you over a period of time.

EPF contribution is definitely one of the best investments for retirement. It is risk free, tax free, long term debt investment which gives approximately a return of 9.7% post taxes and helps salaried people to build on a corpus for retirement or any other financial need over the long term.

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Choice of Investment Products

Have you been confused when deciding where to invest your hard earned savings? You are not alone because there are a sea of products available for you to put your savings in. We make an attempt to give you a snapshot of products below: I. EQUITIES (1) Direct Equities: Investment in shares of companies through the stock exchange. This includes both the cash and the Futures & Options segments. (2) Mutual Funds:Investment in over 1,500 Mutual funds which include the following categories; Large cap funds, Mid-cap funds, Sector Funds, Index Funds, Hybrid Funds(Debt plus Equity) and ETFs.

NEVER PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN A SINGLE BASKET!

II A. DEBT INSTRUMENTS (1) PO Monthly Income Scheme(MIS): A deposit offered by the Post Offices(PO) which pays a monthly interest. Suited for retired individuals. (2) PO Recurring Deposit(RD): Another scheme from the Post Office which enables small periodic savings with as low as Rs. 10 a month. (3) Kisan Vikas Patra(KVP): Popular fixed income bonds which repay the principal and interest on maturity. (4) National Savings Certificate(NSC): Popular fixed income bonds which repay the principal and interest on maturity. (5) Bank Fixed Deposits: The most popular investment avenue in India. The deposits could bear a Fixed Rate or a Floating Rate of interest. Banks also offer Recurring Deposits. (6) Mutual Funds: Debt Mutual Funds score over deposits because of they are more tax efficient and more liquid. These include Income Funds, Monthly Income Plans and Liquid Funds. (7) Corporate Deposits: Apart from banks an investor can invest in deposits ofCorporates, NBFCs and other Financial institutions. These generally offer a higher rate of interest compared to bank deposits and have a higher risk. II B. Retirement Saving Avenues: (1) Senior Citizen Savings Scheme(SCSS): A government of India Scheme specially for retired individuals. (2) Public Provident Fund(PPF): The most popular tax saving scheme falling under the ‘EEE’ category of investments. (3) Employees Provident Fund(EPF): Mandatory contributions to the EPF required by law for all salaried employees result in this fund forming a part of every individuals’ portfolio. (4) New Pension Fund(NPS): Another ‘EEE’ category product, which helps one accumulate a corpus for his retirement days. (5) Annuities: The corpus accumulated for one’s retirement can be invested to earn monthly annuities to meet post retirement expenses. (6) Reverse Mortgage: A product recently introduced in India, it offers retired individuals monthly income against the security/mortgage of their house. II C. Government Bonds There are a number of securities issued by the Government of India available for investment based on their requirement: (1) RBI Bonds (2) State Government Bonds (3) NHAI/REC Bonds u/s 54EC for Capital Gains (4) NABARD Bonds u/s 80C (5) IIFCL Tax Free Bonds (6) 8% taxable Savings Bonds III. STRUCTURED PRODUCTS (1) Capital Protection with market participation Products: Generally restricted to the High Networth Individuals(HNIs), structured products come in different shapes and sizes. (2) Private Equity(PE) Funds: For the niche section of investors, these investments fall in the high risk high return category. IV. REAL ESTATE (1) Direct Investment: This involves buying physical residential and commercial properties including land. (2) Real Estate Funds: Just like Mutual Funds, real estate funds pool in the investors money and invest in real estate properties. This scores over direct investment because of lower transaction costs and professional management of the fund. (3) Real Estate Investment Trusts(REITs): A security that sells like a stock on the stock exchange and invests in real estate directly, either through properties or mortgages. Such securities are not yet available in India. V. COMMODITIES (1) Gold ETFs: The most popular and easiest route to gain exposure to investments in gold. (2) Direct Investments: Just like the direct equity route, one can get exposure to commodities both in the cash or Futures & Options market. VI. FOREX The largest market in the world in terms of volume, this is an investment product which is not yet popular among the retail investors in India.

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