The whole theme of EPFO providing these choices to increase and reduce equity exposure is a case of duplication of effort and design. Financial experts are advising investors to leverage existing options.
Hiral Thanawala | May 02, 2018 11:28 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
There is good news for over five crore subscribers of retirement fund body EPFO. Soon they may have an option to increase or decrease investments of their provident fund into stocks through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the current fiscal. In its last meeting, the Central Board of Trustees decided to explore the possibility of granting an option to increase or reduce equity allocation to subscribers contributing through ETF above the 15% cap.
The Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had started investing in ETFs from investible deposits in August 2015. In FY16, it invested five percent of its investible deposits, which was subsequently increased to 10 percent in FY17 and 15 percent in FY18. However, subscribers were not at all pleased with this increase in exposure to equities. There were some who didn’t want to risk their retirement corpus built through the EPF route. While other subscribers were keen to increase exposure to equities for better returns in the long-term.
So, what advice do financial experts have for EPFO subscribers looking to increase their exposure to equities through the ETFs route when the option is opened up?
Who should increase or reduce investments in ETFs?
Several investors are not reasonably patient with their active investments and panic when they see volatility in the market. Chenthil Iyer, a Sebi registered investment adviser and author of ‘Everyone Has an Eye on Your Wallet! Do You?’ said these investors generally invest only in fixed deposits and post office schemes. “For such investors, increasing the equity exposure through EPF route may be a good option as it is a passive mode of investing and ensures a long-term commitment.”
For investors who manage their active investments and have a well-diversified portfolio, Iyer recommends a minimum equity exposure.
Arvind Laddha, Deputy CEO, JLT, Independent Insurance, has a word of caution. “In the past, there have been negative returns for consecutive two-to-three years or even more from equity markets and this could compromise the savings of EPFO subscribers which they are not used to.”
As not all investors understand the risk of equities and their volatile nature of returns, Kalpesh Mehta, Partner at Deloitte India, feels an investor should also consider one’s age, risk appetite, financial obligations and total net worth before increasing exposure to equities through ETFs.
Benefits of increasing investments in ETFs
Here are the benefits of increasing investments in ETFs through EPF contribution as explained by Amit Gopal, Senior Vice President, India Life Capital: 1) Regular monthly SIP because of mandatory contributions; 2) Inexpensive as employees (contributors) don’t have to pay fund management fees in the current model of EPF; and 3) Tax advantages on contributions. To this, Colonel Sanjeev Govila, CEO, Hum Fauji Initiatives lists institutional framework taking care of selection and research of equities while investing.
Drawbacks of increasing investments in ETFs
Gopal highlights drawbacks such as insufficient administrative track record, illiquidity associated with a retirement fund product, absence of choice in fund manager and products.
To this, Iyer cautions, “Putting the responsibility of equity exposure of this fund on the individual may expose it to the vagaries of the individual’s risk perception, leading to possible over-exposure.”
Make EPF more investor friendly
EPF needs to be investor friendly with additional facilities of enhancing and reducing equity allocation which is likely to be made available in the coming two-to-three months. Iyer feels periodic electronic statements should be mailed to the subscribers which clearly mentions the amount and number of units available in ETF.
“Further an automatic mode of distributing the contribution into equity and debt should be made available based on the age of the individual just like NPS.” This, he feels, will ensure minimum manual intervention in decision-making with regard to equity exposure.
According to Goyal, while EPFO have described some methods of passing on returns, nothing concrete has been implemented. “It is unclear how they will ford the system and governance challenges that could arise.”
It would therefore be good if these issues are resolved before increased allocation and employee choices are implemented. An investor needs to keep a track of this developments for their own benefit.
Leverage on existing options instead of duplicating efforts
The whole theme of EPFO providing these choices to increase and reduce equity exposure is a case of duplication of effort and design. Financial experts are advising investors to leverage existing options.
“The NPS already provides the same structure and benefit. Integrating it with the EPFO and permitting portability is a more efficient way of enhancing employee choice. NPS already has the architecture and track record of administering an employee choice model,” Gopal added.
Sarbajeet K Sen | Sep 14, 2017 11:37 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
Poor performance of a fund must set the investor thinking on whether to continue with the investment.
When did you last review your mutual fund portfolio? Maybe a long time ago. Many investors might feel relaxed after investing in mutual funds with the thought that their money is safe with experts trained in investing and stock selection.
However, the mutual funds landscape is a mixed lot. There are good, high-performing funds and there are laggards who are unable to keep up with performance of the leaders.
Did you check which of these category of fund you have invested? If it is one of the top-performing ones, giving you good returns, you need not worry. But if it is one of the funds that have not performed well in comparison, it might be time to think of a switch to another fund.
So when did you last review your mutual funds investment portfolio to know whether it needs a change? If you do it periodically, well and good, but if you have not reviewed for a long time, you should assess how your various fund investments have been performing.
“Investors should review their mutual fund portfolio at least once in 6 months. They should look at the performance of the fund, the sectoral allocation that they chose and whether there have been any big changes,” S Sridharan, Business Head, Financial Planning, Wealth Ladder Investment Advisors
Sridharan says if the review shows that the fund has performed poorly, it should signal a possible exit and switch to another fund. “Poor performance of a fund must set the investor thinking on whether to continue with the investment. However, exit decision should not be based only on performance of the fund. Investors should look at other parameter like what went wrong and whether the fund manager has the capability of revising the portfolio to the positive side in the near future,” he said.
Vikash Agarwal, CFA & Co-Founder, CAGRfunds, says one should avoid unnecessary churn in portfolio. “The essence of money-making is regular investments in well-managed diversified equity mutual funds. One should avoid unnecessary churns in the portfolio which may enhance cost in terms of exit load and tax implications,” he said.
However, Agarwal says there can be multiple reasons which might merit a review and change of one’s mutual fund holdings. Some of these are:
–Continued underperformance of the fund such that the fund is unable to beat its benchmark
-The fund is able to beat the benchmark but the returns are not commensurate with the levels of risk being taken by the fund
-A particular stock/debt instrument holding which forms a significant holding of the fund is likely to underperform due to a fundamental issue. Example: If a fund has significant exposure to a company which has acquired a loss making company, it might merit a deeper review of the fund
–Change of fund manager: In case there is a change in fund manager, then it is useful to review the fund as the fund style and philosophy might undergo a change and it might not be suitable to investment objective anymore
“If your fund is showing such characteristics then it is ideal for you to exit and switch to a better managed fund,” Agarwal said.
TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Sep 1, 2017, 12:36 IST
You can invest in mutual funds with amount as low as Rs 500. There is no upper limit for investing in mutual funds. Each mutual fund – be it equity or debt – has certain risk due to volatility and uncertainty in market. Ideally, you should be investing 10-20 per cent of your savings in mutual funds through monthly SIP.
Here are few points that you should keep in mind while investing in a debt or equity oriented schemes:
List down all your short-term and long-term goals in future such as holiday, marriage, children, education of children, retairment etc. Invest more into equities for your long-term needs as it is greatly possible to be aggressive in such cases. For your short-term needs, mutual funds with 1 year lock in can be adopted.
2) Risk capacity
The amount of investment risk you are able to take on is generally determined by your financial condition. Sudden financial shocks such as job loss, an accident etc. can affect your investment decisions by altering the amount of risk you’re able to afford. Your financial commitments such as home loan, business loan, car loan, expenditure in kids education etc. may also affect your investment risk capacity.
When it comes to investing, age is as big factor as the other two mentioned above. The best time to start investing is when you are young. The best time to learn about the markets and how to deal with its risks is when you’re young. Young investors have decades before they need the money. They have more time for their investments to recover and make up the shortfall. Once you are into your 30s and 40s, allocate a greater fraction of your portfolio to minimal risk funds or long-term funds. Also allocate some money to equity funds for your aggressive goals.
4) Fund selection – debt or equity
Debt funds can give you steady returns but in a constant range. Since debt funds invest money in treasury bonds, there’s much less risk associated with them. Debt funds are good investment option when market is volatile. Equity mutual funds give good returns over the long period to time as compared to debt funds. However, the possibility of losses and negative returns is also higher when market is volatile. Equity funds are good when the markets are booming.
You may also consult financial experts before taking final decisions. Mutual fund agents and distributors can also help you in this regard.
NIMESH SHAH | Wed, 12 Jul 2017 – 07:35 am | DNA
Dynamic asset allocation funds is a smart way to invest in markets without worrying about market highs or lows
The stock markets are at all-time highs, and it’s understandable if you are confused whether to invest or wait for correction. Timing the market is not easy. And while piling up your savings or putting them into traditional investment options seems like an easier option, it lacks the growth opportunities which capital markets could present.
A smart investor would look to participate in the growth of capital markets but in conservative manner. Introduce yourself to dynamic asset allocation funds, a smart way to invest in markets without worrying about market highs or lows.
Investing in mutual funds which follows the principle of dynamic asset allocation gives you the flexibility of investing in both debt and equity depending on market conditions. These funds aim to benefit from growth of equities with a cushion of debt. Such funds work on an automatic mechanism switching from equity or debt, depending on the relative attractiveness of the asset class.
In a scenario when the equity market rallies, the fund is designed such that profits are booked and the allocation would shift towards debt. On the other hand, if the markets correct, the fund will allocate more to equity, in order to tap into the opportunities available. The basis for this allocation is based on certain models which takes into account various market yardsticks like Price to Book Value amongst several others for portfolio re-balancing.
This model based approach negates the anomaly of subjective decision making, thereby ensuring that the investment made is deployed at all times to tap into the opportunities of both debt and equity market. The other added benefit is that one gets to follow the adage – Buy low, sell high. For an equity investor, this is one maxim which is the hardest to execute, but this fund effectively manages to achieve this objective.
Also, investing in such funds renders an added benefit of tax efficiency as 65% of the portfolio is allocated to equities. Since this category of fund is held with a long tern view, capital gains on equity investment (if invested for over one year), are tax free, as per prevailing tax laws.
So, while the markets are soaring high, you can consider investing in dynamic asset allocation fund to keep you well footed in the market, even during volatile times.
The writer is MD & CEO, ICICI Prudential AMC
PARVATHA VARDHINI C | August 28, 2016 | The Hindu Business Line
The fund’s debt exposure offers downside protection to conservative investors
Equity-oriented balanced funds are a good choice to beat the current volatility in the markets. These funds invest up to 35 per cent of their corpus in debt instruments and thus provide good downside protection for risk-averse investors. Franklin India Balanced is a fund that fits the bill in this category.
Performance and strategy
In falling and yo-yoing markets, Franklin Balanced remains resilient. In 2011, when the bellwethers and broader markets lost 25-27 per cent, the fund lost only 13 per cent.
In the see-sawing markets of 2015, the fund emerged on top, gaining about 5 per cent, while the indices fell 1-5 per cent.
Franklin Balanced managed to stay on top in the 2014 rally too, by deft asset allocation. The fund did not latch on too much to riskier mid- and small-cap stocks to ride the bull run and allocated less than 15 per cent of its equity portfolio to the same. It, instead, took advantage of the rally in bond prices, by increasing its holdings in government securities in this period. A sharp up-move in both equity and bond markets saw the fund clock 47 per cent return in 2014, as against the 30-37 per cent clocked by the bellwethers and the BSE/Nifty 500 indices.
Its returns are better than of peers’ such as Canara Robeco Balance and Reliance Regular Savings Balanced. The performance even matches that of diversified equity funds such as SBI Magnum Equity.
The fund normally keeps its mid-cap allocations to less than 10 per cent of its equity portfolio, barring occasional spikes up to 15 per cent during market upswings. Its top sectors are typically a combination of cyclicals and defensives. The fund has stepped up its holdings in bank stocks after a breather last year due to multiple headwinds hitting the sector. Barring SBI, its choices lean towards private banks such as HDFC, IndusInd, YES Bank, ICICI and Kotak Mahindra Bank currently.
In the auto sector too, the fund pushed up stake in Mahindra and Mahindra, betting on good monsoon. Other holdings here include Hero MotoCorp, Tata Motors and TVS Motors. Power Grid Corporation, Maruti Suzuki, Mahanagar Gas and Oil India are recent entrants. About 26 per cent is allocated to government securities. In the last couple of months, the fund has been trimming its exposure to corporate bonds. While its exposure to corporate bonds is not significant currently, in the past it has stuck with higher rated bonds — those rated AAA or AA.
By Kshitij Anand, ECONOMICTIMES.COM | Aug 10, 2016, 01.51 PM IST
The unique challenges to growth of developed markets make emerging markets, especially India, look attractive. However, a strong upside from current level looks challenging at this point in time, says Nimesh Shah, MD & CEO, ICICI Prudential AMC . In an interview with Kshitij Anand of ETMarkets.com, he shared his views on markets, GST and the behaviour of retail investors. Excerpt-
ETMarkets.com: How significant is GST reform for the economy? It looks like the market has already factored in most of the upside from the reforms? What is your take on the whole equation?
Nimesh Shah: Over the years, the goods and services tax (GST) has become a symbol of reforms in the country for both Indian as well as foreign institutional investors (FIIs). With the passage of the GST bill, sentiments have surely improved, but it is imperative to understand that the GST is unlikely to change things overnight.
As a country, we will be reaping the benefits of this reform over the next five to seven years, and not in next five months. Now the size of the organised sector in several industries is bound to go up, thanks to the improved compliance of taxation because of the nature of GST and its benefits for the economy.
At current valuation, the market seems to have fully factored in the positives of the bill. One must take cognisance of the fact that a rerating of the Indian market is likely to happen over the long run. However, if there is an immediate re-rating, solely based on the expected positives, the market is likely to see some correction.
ETMarkets.com: The domestic market is already trading at valuations that are above historic highs. Is there potential for more upside or should investors brace for a sharp fall? Some experts even call this a new normal. What is your take?
Nimesh Shah: It is premature to say high valuation is the new normal for the Indian equity market. There is a plethora of factors in the form of good monsoon, repressed oil price, bottoming of earnings de-growth, which are currently supporting market valuations.
Adding to this is the unique growth challenges of the developed markets, which make emerging markets, especially India, look attractive. However, a sharp upside from current level looks challenging at this point of time.
At the same time, one cannot completely turn a blind eye to the possibility of volatile times arising due to negative global news flow.
Historically, it has been observed that negatives on the global front have managed to trump the positives on the local front. But prudent action in times of volatility would be to use that as an opportunity.
ETMarkets.com: Has the retail investor matured in the way he invests in equities now?
Nimesh Shah: There has been a remarkable improvement over the past few years in the way retail investors invest in equities. Over the past couple of years, retail investors have preferred to approach stock market via the mutual fund route, rather than investing directly in stocks.
We see this as an acknowledgement of mutual fund industry’s robust track record, well designed and very well regulated product line and transparency.
Within the mutual fund route, the heartening feature is that increasingly funds are coming through the SIP route. As an industry, we have witnessed the SIP book swell from Rs 1,800 crore in March 2015 to nearly Rs 3,000 crore per month and growing. Other than this, the other major positive is the change in investment behaviour.
There was a time when investors used to enter at market highs and would sell in case of a correction, leading to negative investor experience. However, this has changed now, thanks to the relentless investor education initiatives by the media, distributors and fund houses. Now, the mantra is to stay invested and not be swayed by market swings.
ETMarkets.com: Can a retail investor become a crorepati by just following the SIP approach? If yes, on an average how much he needs to set aside every month to achieve that goal?
Nimesh Shah: Yes, if a retail investor invests in a diversified equity fund through a systematic investment plan over the long term, she/he can become a crorepati. For example, Rs 20,000 invested through a monthly SIP for about 15 years can grow to over Rs 1 crore, if you assume a rate of return of 12 per cent.
ETMarkets.com: Is the big bull run intact in in the domestic market? The Indian market is already up 20 per cent from its 52-week low. Do you think the current bull run is driven by liquidity rather than fundamentals? If yes, are we staring at a big slide as soon as the liquidity tap dries up?
Nimesh Shah: The current rally is fuelled by both domestic as well as global factors. One has to take into account that the current rally in emerging markets is happening after 3-4 years of underperformance vis-a-vis developed markets.
At a time when almost all the developed nations of the world are facing a zero or sub-zero interest rates coupled with muted growth, India is emerging as an oasis of growth.
Going forward, gradual improvement in demand and strong operating leverage will drive earnings in the upcoming quarters, rendering the much-required earnings support.
All these factors are likely to support the equity markets, even at a time when liquidity starts to taper down.
ETMarkets.com: What is your call on the bond market? Should investors go for debt funds?
Nimesh Shah: The Indian bond market has been an attractive bet for global investors thus far. The four factors that have worked in favour of India are a) a well-managed current account deficit (CAD), b) benign global commodity prices, c) favourable credit growth trajectory and d) non-inflationary Government policies.
Thanks to the prevailing interest rate scenario in global markets, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to maintain an accommodative policy stance given the uncertainties on account of international factors.
We are of the view that yields will head lower in the days ahead. Therefore, we would recommend short to medium duration or accrual funds for incremental allocation.
ETMarkets.com: Fitch said the global bond market is at risk of losing $3.8 trillion. How are we placed in the global equation?
Nimesh Shah: India is far better placed in the context of international fixed income markets. In the developed markets, interest rates are at a historic low while in the case of India, interest rates are still elevated. The focus of monetary policy now is more towards managing inflation and globally it is on renewing growth.
Over the last three years, GOI and the RBI have managed to get current account deficit and domestic inflation under control, along with moderate growth and political stability. As long as this equation is not juggled with, India is well placed in the global equation.
ETMarkets.com: Can you name five stocks that you think could fetch multibagger return over the next 2-3 years. And why?
Nimesh Shah: In the current market, construction, auto ancillaries, pharma and healthcare services are the pockets that are in a position to generate attractive returns in the medium term.
ETMarkets.com: ICICI Prudential AMC has become the largest asset management company in the country. What are your five key takeaways from your journey so far?
Nimesh Shah: Our journey to the top (as the largest asset management company) has been accompanied by much learning. Primarily, as an industry, we realise when a product is transparent and is beneficial to the investor, the industry is bound to multiply several folds, with time.
Our experience shows that a fund house with a proven track record of managing investor money is bound to attract more investments.
As for investment experience, it is a noted phenomenon that investors shy away from investing in equities when valuations are cheap. Therefore, we have products like balanced, dynamic asset allocation funds that aim to benefit out of volatility and provide a better investment experience.
Lastly, one of the inherent challenges has always been simplifying the process of investing. As of now, the inflows into mutual fund schemes are limited through banking channels, thereby missing on the cash payment channel.
Once Sebi’s uniform KYC regulation is implemented, these processes are likely to be simpler, thereby aiding larger participation across financial class.
By Sunil Dhawan | ECONOMICTIMES.COM | Jul 20, 2016, 02.53 PM IST
Gold in its physical form — jewellery or ornaments — has always been popular among Indians, especially women. Unlike in the past when gold was only considered a hedge against inflation and held entirely in physical form, today it finds its place even in an investor’s portfolio and largely as paper gold. Earlier as gold exchange traded funds (Gold ETFs) and now as Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs), paper gold offers many advantages to Indian investors now.
The Series I of SGB 2016-17 is currently open for subscription from July 18 to 22. The fourth tranche of SGB, its price has been fixed at Rs 3,119 per gram.
However, before you buy SGBs, you need to be clear about why you need to invest in gold. Is it to meet a financial goal or for pure investment purposes? If it is for the former, then most financial planners will suggest not having more than 10 per cent of the total portfolio in gold. Aniruddha Bose, Director & Business Head, FinEdge Advisory, says, “In our view, investors shouldn’t overexpose themselves to SGBs. They may form 5-10 per cent of the overall asset allocation of an investor.”
Window of opportunity
The bonds will not be available all year round. The government will keep coming out with primary issue of different tranches of SGBs for open purchase. This could typically happen every 2-3 months and the window will remain open for about a week. For investors looking to purchase SGBs between two such primary issues, the only way out is to buy earlier issues (at market value) which are listed in the secondary market.
The biggest advantage of SGBs is clearly on the tax front. The 2016-17 Budget had proposed that the redemption of the bonds by an individual be exempt from the capital gains tax. Therefore, holding till maturity has its tax advantage. Redeeming in stock exchange may, however, result in capital gains or loss and one may have to pay tax accordingly. Interest on the bonds is, however, fully taxable as per the tax rate of an investor. For someone in the 10, 20, or 30 per cent tax bracket, the post-tax return comes to 2.47, 2.18 and 1.9 per cent respectively.
The initial cost of owning physical gold in the form of bars, coins is around 10 per cent and even higher for jewellery. SGBs and Gold ETFs are cost-effective as there is no entry cost in either. In the latter, the expense ratio could be around 1 per cent. Still, owning gold in paper form is cost-effective than owning physical gold.
The returns from gold can be highly volatile, especially over the short term. Therefore, link a long term goal to your gold investments. Goals that are at least 7-8 years away are ideal as SGBs mature after 8 years. The investor could be given an option to roll over his holdings for an additional period. However, one may withdraw prematurely five years from the issue date on interest payment dates. Although one can exit in the secondary market anytime, the liquidity and price risk may exist. There may not be enough buyers for the quantity offered by you and even the market price may be low. These are the concerns when one wants to exit from an investment in a hurry. Goals such a children’s education, marriage, or your own retirement, which are eight years away or more, may be linked to investment in SGBs.
Identify a long term goal and estimate its inflated cost. Calculate the amount you need to save towards it. Similarly, find out the investment required towards other long term goals. Earmark not more than 10 per cent of the total monthly investments towards all your long term goals into SGBs. Bose says, “From a financial planning standpoint, it makes sense to take a larger exposure to more aggressive assets such as equities (as opposed to gold) for the fulfilment of long term goals.”
Treat investment in every tranche (primary issue by government) of SGBs as SIP. Alternatively, Bose suggests, “SGBs are actively traded on the exchanges, so one could always buy more of them at a later stage, from a portfolio balance standpoint.” But remember, not to invest in them when the linked-goal remains 2-3 years away. Let the existing investments in SGBs continue and make sure to redeem them at least a year before the goal to ensure the volatility in gold portfolio is minimal.
Returns in SGBs are market-linked and will depend on gold prices prevalent on maturity after eight years. “Buy SGBs keeping your overall asset allocation in mind, rather than just buying them blindly. Also, understand the risks – gold prices have already gone up sharply in the past year,” says Bose.
Rather than owning gold in physical form and not earning anything on it, SGBs mean owning gold and also earning interest on it. The government has fixed interest of 2.75 per cent per annum on the investment, with no compounding of interest. The interest shall be paid in half-yearly rests and the last one shall be payable on maturity along with the principal.
It will also be important to re-invest the half-yearly interest as the amount could be low and used up unnecessary. To put the interest amount in perspective, on an investment of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2,750 received yearly yields Rs 22,000 after 8 years.
Gold ETFs provide much better liquidity than SGBs. Owning units is much easier than SGBs as it’s entirely online in the case of ETFs. The risk of owning and holding doesn’t exist in both. The only disadvantage of ETFs is that it won’t help you earn the additional interest of around 2 per cent per annum. So depending on how comfortable you are managing your investments online, choose either ETFs or SGBs.
Source : http://goo.gl/xBb4pN