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A mutual fund is a professionally managed type of collective investment scheme that pools money from many investors and invests it in stocks, bonds, short-term money market instruments and other securities. Mutual funds have a fund manager who invests the money on behalf of the investors by buying / selling stocks, bonds etc. Currently, the worldwide value of all mutual funds totals more than $US 26 trillion. There are various investment avenues available to an investor such as real estate, bank deposits, post office deposits, shares, debentures, bonds etc. A mutual fund is one more type of investment avenue available to investors.
There are many reasons why investors prefer mutual funds. Buying shares directly from the market is one way of investing. But this requires spending time to find out the performance of the company whose share is being purchased, understanding the future business prospects of the company, finding out the track record of the promoters and the dividend, bonus issue history of the company etc. An informed investor needs to do research before investing. However, many investors find it cumbersome and time consuming to pore over so much of information, get access to so much of details before investing in the shares. Investors therefore prefer the mutual fund route. They invest in a mutual fund scheme which in turn takes the responsibility of investing in stocks and shares after due analysis and research. The investor need not bother with researching hundreds of stocks. It leaves it to the mutual fund and it’s professional fund management team.
Another reason why investors prefer mutual funds is because mutual funds offer diversification. An investor’s money is invested by the mutual fund in a variety of shares, bonds and other securities thus diversifying the investors portfolio across different companies and sectors. This diversification helps in reducing the overall risk of the portfolio. It is also less expensive to invest in a mutual fund since the minimum investment amount in mutual fund units is fairly low (Rs. 500 or so). With Rs. 500 an investor may be able to buy only a few stocks and not get the desired diversification. These are some of the reasons why mutual funds have gained in popularity over the years. Indians have been traditionally savers and invested money in traditional savings instruments such as bank deposits. Against this background, if we6look at approximately Rs. 7 lakh crores1 which Indian Mutual Funds are managing, then it is no mean an achievement. A country traditionally putting money in safe, risk-free investments like Bank FDs, Post Office and Life Insurance, has started to invest in stocks, bonds and shares – thanks to the mutual fund industry.
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