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What is a mutual fund?

A mutual fund pools your money along with that of several other investors and invests this money, depending on the type of mutual fund you choose. It invests in different stocks if you choose equity or equity diversified mutual funds, in bonds or fixed income securities, if you choose debt mutual funds and a mix of equity and debt if you choose a balanced mutual fund.

The Company which manages the mutual fund is called an AMC or an asset management Company. An AMC may manage several mutual fund schemes.

The money you and several investors invest in the mutual fund, is managed by a professional called a fund manager, appointed by the AMC. Fees are paid to the fund manager for managing your money, which is deducted from the money, you invest in the mutual fund.

The activities of the AMC are regulated by SEBI (The Securities and Exchange Board of India). You have to pay money when you enter and exit a mutual fund scheme, called the entry load and exit load.

How do mutual funds work?

A mutual fund is a company that pools several investors’ money and invests this money, depending on the type of mutual fund you choose. It may invest in stocks if you choose equity or equity diversified mutual funds, in bonds or fixed income securities if you choose debt mutual funds and a mix of equity and debt if you choose a balanced mutual fund.

Mutual funds are diversified; so, your investment bears a much lower risk.

The Company which manages the mutual fund is called an Asset Management Company (AMC). A single AMC may manage several mutual fund schemes.

The money that is invested in the mutual fund is managed by a professional called a fund manager who is appointed by the AMC. A part of the money you invest goes in fund management charges to pay the salary to the fund manager.

The fund manager buys and sells securities so that the fund grows and your investment is maximized.

AMCs are regulated by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India). Mutual Funds have an entry and exit load, fees that are applicable when you enter and exit a mutual fund scheme.

Why Invest In Mutual Funds?

Diversification Benefit

Mutual funds invest in stocks of different Companies across sectors. This reduces risk through diversification.


Small Is Big

Invest small amounts systematically in mutual funds, through SIP. You are always invested in the stock market and profit in bull markets.

Professional Management

You have a professional fund manager managing your investment. You don't have the headache of buying and selling stocks.

Tax Benefits

You get tax deductions on your salary, if you invest in an ELSS. You also get the benefits of compounding.

Mutual funds in India can be open ended or close ended

Open ended schemes: They don't have a fixed maturity date. Investors can buy and sell units of mutual fund, at any time within market trading hours.

Close ended schemes: These schemes are open for investment only for a short period of time. You have to invest within this time frame. The close ended schemes are listed on a stock exchange. You can buy and sell units on the stock exchange through a broker just like stocks.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

You have the total market value of all the assets of the mutual fund portfolio such as Cash, Securities, Shares, Bonds, Liquid Assets, Dividends to be received and interest accrued. You have the liabilities, which is money owed to its creditors or investors redeeming their money. There will be certain expenses accrued over time yet to be paid.

Net Asset Value is basically the difference between these assets and liabilities divided by the outstanding units. The outstanding units are those which are taken up by the investor.

Direct Plan mutual funds

You can directly invest in the asset management Company. You do not invest through agents and Distributors. A mutual fund scheme has to affix the word "DIRECT" in the scheme name.

SIP in a mutual fund

In case of SIP, on a specified date a fixed amount as specified by you, is deducted from your bank amount. The amount debited is then invested in a particular mutual fund scheme of your choice, at fixed time periods such as the first day of each month. Many AMC and fund houses provide the online option for your SIP investments.

Types of equity mutual funds

Equity Diversified mutual fund: The mutual fund looks to invest in a wide variety of companies.These may be small to medium sized companies or even large companies. These companies may be spread across sectors and industries. These may be into oil and gas, pharmaceuticals or infrastructure. Investment across sectors and Companies reduces risk in investing.

Sectoral Mutual Funds: A Sectoral fund is a mutual fund which basically invests in stocks of a particular sector. It remains focused on the stocks of a particular business. These may be the Technology, Financial services, Telecommunications, Metals and Mining, Healthcare and Pharma, Real Estate and Infrastructure, Power, Oil and Gas, Shipping, Airlines Industry, Banking, FMCG and so on.

Index Schemes

An index fund is basically an equity fund, that mirrors or replicates a particular stock market index such as the CNX Nifty also called Nifty 50 or the S&P BSE Sensex. An index fund which tracks the S&P BSE Sensex will invest only in the thirty stocks which this index comprises of. The proportions of investment in each stock will exactly match with the weight of the stock in the index. All the fund manager has to do is to follow and replicate the index he tracks and invest in all the constituent shares in the same proportion or ratio as the index.

Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS)

As the name suggests, ELSS invests the whole corpus in equities. Proportions as high as 80-90% in equities are found in an Equity Linked Savings Schemes. It is a special kind of mutual fund that qualifies for tax benefits.

Lock in: ELSS has a 3 year lock in. You cannot touch your money in the ELSS for 3 years.

ELSS enjoys EEE exemptions

"EEE" means exempt exempt exempt. The ELSS enjoys a deduction under Section 80 C of the income tax act, up to INR 1.5 Lakhs a year. You can invest a maximum amount of INR 1.5 Lakhs a year in an ELSS and avail a deduction under Section 80 C of the income tax act on the full amount invested.

The money accumulates with time (if the value of the ELSS increases) and no tax is charged on this amount. The money you withdraw on maturity after 3 years is tax free.

Risk in mutual funds

As per SEBI rules the level of risk in a mutual fund is denoted through colors.
Blue : Your principal is at low risk.
Yellow : Your principal is at medium risk.
Brown : Your principal is at high risk.


Concepts & FAQ's Mutual Funds

What is an Equity Mutual Fund?

Equity Mutual Fund that invests principally in stocks is called an Equity Mutual Fund. They are also called as Stock Mutual Funds. By purchasing equity (stock) an investor becomes an owner in a corporation with the right to share in any future profits by the company.

The objective of Equity Mutual Fund is growth through capital gains (profit that results from selling a capital asset, such as stock, where the amount realized exceeds the purchase price) and/or dividends (distribution of profits). Equity Mutual Funds performance is linked to the performance of the stock market.

For whom are Equity Mutual Funds suitable?

The investor as a share holder of the company also needs to take the risks involved with it. These kinds of mutual funds are suitable for the kind of investors who are willing to take the risks involved and who are aware of the market conditions. Basically Equity Mutual Funds are more suitable for seasoned investors. For an investor investing in Equity Mutual Funds, timing the entry is crucial also equally important is the exiting time. Also picking up the right type of Equity Mutual Fund is very important too.

Objectives Of Mutual Funds

Depending on the mutual fund scheme that you invest, mutual funds have the following objectives:

  • Capital growth
  • Preservation of Capital
  • Steady income

Features of Mutual Funds

Mutual funds invest in diversified financial instruments. Diversification as we know, helps minimize risk and loss. Investing all your money in a single investment option is quite foolish. Say, you invest all your money in fixed-income securities, you’ll earn moderate returns but your investments will not grow. On the other hand, if you invest everything in stocks, chances are you will lose all your money if stock markets crash. So, you will neither enjoy good returns nor capital growth.

Mutual funds offer a diversified portfolio that allows investors to realize the best of safety and capital growth based on their risk appetite.

According to the type of mutual fund that’s invested, you can achieve objectives like steady income, higher returns, capital growth or a combination of any /all of these.

3.Fund manager:
Most investors don’t have enough time, knowledge or interest to research individual stocks and bonds. Mutual funds therefore, are the best options for such investors, because these are managed by a professional fund manager who is dedicated to meet the investment objectives.

4.Low Fees:
Picking individual stocks can be a costly affair, because of broker fees and commissions. Mostly, mutual funds charge operational fees which are less than 1% a year. They also charge an exit load. Nevertheless, there are certain "no-load" mutual funds that don't charge investors anything.

Mutual funds fall in three categories:

  • Equity funds:
    These investments are made only in equity mutual funds or shares. They are highly risky and may give higher returns compared to other categories.
  • Fixed-income funds:
    These are invested in bonds, treasury bills, corporate deposits and so on. They provide fixed returns and are the least risky, compared to other categories.
  • Balanced funds:
    These funds are invested in both stocks and bonds to offer moderate to low risk.

Advantages of Mutual Funds

1.Mutual funds offer the benefits of diversification.

2.Through mutual funds, you outsource the task of managing your funds to a professional manager, who ensures your funds are invested in the right place as per risk appetite.

3.Mutual funds are highly liquid. You can sell your units freely and quickly, if you have opted for open-ended mutual funds.

4.By investing in mutual funds, you save broker fees, commissions, professional management fees, and so on. Mutual funds charge little to manage your funds.

5.Most mutual funds are tax-efficient. Tax on LTCG (Long-term Capital Gains) on equity-oriented mutual funds, are Nil up to 1 Lakh a year. In case of debt funds, LTCG only applies if you hold them for 3 years and you enjoy the indexation benefit. ELSS funds are exempt under Section 80C up to a maximum limit of Rs 1.5 Lakh a year.

6.You can start by investing an amount as low as Rs 500 via SIPs.

7.With Systematic Investment Plans or SIPs, your money automatically gets debited from your bank account towards mutual fund investments.

8.AMCs are governed by SEBI. Hence, they are safe and transparent.

9.You may either choose to invest in Mutual Funds through SIPs or as a lump sum.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of Equity Mutual Funds?

1.Based on asset class:

  • Equity Funds:
    These funds invest in stocks of various companies. This investment involves high risk; so, chances of earning good returns are high.
  • Debt Funds:
    These funds invest in government bonds, debentures and other fixed-income instruments. The aim is to earn fixed returns. Therefore, Debt Funds come with low risk.
  • Money market funds:
    In this type of mutual fund, the money is invested in money market instruments. Money market instruments invest in Commercial Paper, Treasury Bills, Certificate of Deposits, and Repo instruments. These investments are ideal for investors who expect a quick and moderate return from their investments vis-à-vis SB Accounts.
  • Balanced or Hybrid Funds:
    Hybrid funds as the name suggests, are invested in a combination of high risk and low-risk assets, in order to balance risk and returns. They invest in a mix of equity and debt to protect your investment.
  • Sector Funds:
    These funds only invest in a specific sector like infra, pharma, auto or oil and gas. For example, in case of the infrastructure sector, funds are only invested in companies related to that sector. The risks and returns on such funds are dependent on the performances of that particular sector. These are an extremely risky investment.
  • Index Funds:
    These funds try to replicate a specific index like Nifty 50 by investing in the same stocks in the same proportions. They perform in tandem with the index. Therefore, returns are associated with that specific index.
  • Tax Saving Funds:
    ELSS are also called tax saving mutual funds. Tax Saving Funds are primarily invested in equity shares. Such investments are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Fund of Funds:
    These funds invest in other mutual funds. They have a higher expense ratio.

2.Based on Structure:

  • Open-ended funds:
    The units of open-ended funds can be purchased and redeemed at any given point in time. Therefore, there is no restriction on entry and exit from the fund. These units can be encashed as per convenience. Therefore, they are quite liquid.
  • Closed-ended Funds:
    Closed-ended funds restrict the entry and exit from the fund. The units of such funds can be purchased only during the initial offer period. They can be redeemed only after the maturity date. These funds are often listed on the stock exchange.

3.Based on investment objective:

  • Aggressive growth funds:
    These funds aim to achieve aggressive growth. Investors with an intention of getting very high returns, invest in this type of fund. The risk associated with these funds is quite high. Investors who are not prepared to bear losses shouldn’t invest in aggressive growth funds.
  • Growth funds:
    Capital appreciation is the main objective of these funds with little or no focus on dividend payout. Growth funds are a combination of investments in small, medium, and large-sized corporations who reinvest their earnings into expansion, R&D, mergers, and so on.
  • Income funds:
    Income funds are invested in fixed income instruments like corporate fixed deposits, debentures, bonds and so on, which give fixed returns. The main aim is not capital appreciation, but to provide a consistent income to the investors. These types of mutual funds are most suitable for retired people who need a fixed income. These funds give dividends on a regular basis. Income funds come with moderate risk. They are also impacted by inflation.
  • Balanced funds:
    These funds invest in stocks, bonds and sometimes money market instruments too. The investment mix is fixed based on the risk objective. Balanced funds aim to provide investors with income and the growth opportunity.
  • Money Market Mutual Funds:
    The main objective of money market funds is to preserve capital and prevent loss. Investment is done in money market instruments that are very safe, like treasury bills, certificates of deposit, and so on. These funds give decent returns, higher than SB Accounts. Risk associated with such funds is minimal. Money market funds are highly liquid; therefore, investors can modify their investment strategies as and when they wish.

Who can invest in mutual funds?

  • Resident Indians
  • Non-resident Indians (NRIs)
  • Parents/Guardians on behalf of minors
  • Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)
  • Sole Proprietorship Firms
  • Partnership Firms
  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIO)
  • Public Sector Undertakings
  • Private Sector Undertakings
  • Cooperative Societies
  • Charitable or Religious Trusts
  • Trustee, AMC or Sponsor of their associates
  • Endowment or Registered Societies
  • Wakf Boards
  • Army/Air Force/Navy/Para-Military funds and other eligible institutions

How should you invest in mutual funds?

Investors can apply for a mutual fund, either online or offline. You must ensure that you invest through Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) registered mutual fund distributors, only. Also, make sure that the distributor has a valid AMFI Registration Number (ARN).

You can check if a distributor is AMFI registered or not at The link also lists the distributors who are suspended from providing mutual fund services. Every employee of a mutual fund distributor is given an Employee Unique Identification Number (EUIN).

Following are the steps to invest in mutual funds:

  • Assess your risk profile. Identify if you are risk averse, a moderate risk-taker or an aggressive investor.
  • After you identify your risk profile, you have to allocate your funds to different asset classes. Allocate your funds in a mix of both equity and debt. This will help minimize risks and optimize earnings.
  • Compare mutual funds that invest in each asset class based on their investment objectives and past performance.
  • Once you decide on the mutual fund schemes that you would like to invest, apply online or offline.
  • Keep monitoring and following up with the mutual fund manager, so that you get the best out of your investment.

Is it safe to invest in mutual funds?

The primary objective of investments is to earn returns. Mutual funds are safe, if you handle them with care.

You should know where and why you are investing. Though your fund manager has been entrusted with the management of your mutual funds, you have to continuously follow up and keep track of the performance of your investments.

It is best to do your homework. Learn and understand about mutual fund schemes before investing.

SEBI Guidelines on mutual funds:

SEBI has drafted certain guidelines on mutual funds by labeling the product through color codes: blue, yellow and brown. These color codes imply the risk levels associated with a particular mutual fund scheme.

Mutual fund color codes:

  • Blue: Low risk
    A mutual fund product with blue on the label indicates low risk.
  • Yellow: Medium risk
    A mutual fund product with yellow on the label indicates moderate risk.
  • Brown: High risk
    A mutual fund product with brown on the label indicates high risk.

Mutual Funds Articles

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Large-Cap Fund vs Mid-Cap Fund: Which One is Good?

20 November 2019, Wednesday    

Have you ever wondered what market capitalization stands for and how they impact you as an investor? You will learn from this article how market capitalization is an important factor when picking stocks for your portfolio: What is Large-cap Fund? Large-cap funds are those funds that invest a m ....

7 Reasons to Invest in Equity Mutual Funds

05 November 2019, Tuesday    

What are Equity Funds? The equity mutual fund is an investment instrument that invests your money in company stocks and aims to generate high returns. You can use these investments to fulfill your financial goals over long as well as short investment tenure. You will be able to generate better re ....

Why Index Funds are Good Investments?

05 November 2019, Tuesday    

An index fund is a mutual fund which imitates the portfolio of an index like the Sensex and Nifty. These funds are called index funds or index-tracked mutual funds because they track an index. In theory you get a performance identical to that of the index being tracked. Index Which Tracks Nifty: ....


Mutual Funds News

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PGIM India recovers all dues from Reliance ADAG

Monday, September 30, 2019, 8:14 PM

PGIM IMF (erstwhile DHFL Pramerica Mutual Fund) has recovered its entire exposure to Reliance ADAG, a-press-release from the fund-house said. "It gives us immense pleasure to inform you that we have fully recovered all sums due to us from the Reliance ADAG group yesterday i.e. on 27th of September, 2019 ahead of the scheduled maturity date October-10, 2019," a communication from the fund-house said.

Mutal funds Wrap: Corporate tax cuts to benefit struggling sectors

Saturday, September 28, 2019, 6:42 PM

Mutual fund (MF) investors has stayed loyal to MF schemes during the downslide in equity markets and it is time for them to be rewarded by fund managers after taking advantage of corporate tax cuts. During the strong correction seen from July to August 2019, systematic investment plan (SIP) contributions stood at Rs.8,231-crore in August 2019, which was 7.5 percent higher than August 2018.

Mutual funds add around 5 lakh folios in Aug

Thursday, September 12, 2019, 5:38 PM

The mutual fund industry has added around 5L investors' account in August, taking the total tally to 8.53-crore, amid volatile market conditions. In comparison, the industry had added 10.29L new folios in July. Folios are numbers designated to individual investor accounts. An investor can have multiple folios. The total folio count stood at 8.38L in June, 8.32L in May and 8.27L in April.


Mutual Funds Videos

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Mutual Funds Education

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What Is Financial Market?

Saturday, January 19, 2019, 6:00 PM

As the name suggests, financial market is a marketplace where the trading of financial instruments like bonds, mutual funds and shares takes place. It is an arrangement or institution that facilitates trading and where buyers and the sellers aggregate to trade in financial products. The financial market can be classified into the primary and secondary market.

What is a Systematic Investment Plan?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 5:28 PM

A Systematic Investment Plan or SIP is a smart and hassle free mode for investing money in mutual funds. SIP allows you to invest a certain pre-determined amount at a regular interval (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). A SIP is a planned approach towards investments and helps you inculcate the habit of saving and building wealth for the future.

What is Net Asset Value (NAV)?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 11:19 AM

NAV is the total value of all the mutual funds assets minus the value of all its liabilities per unit. It is the price at which you buy or sell units of a mutual fund. The assets of a mutual fund are securities like equity shares, bonds, commercial papers and debentures. Accrued interest and dividends are also the assets of the Mutual Fund.



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