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To get an idea of returns from equity funds, should I look at point-to-point returns or compounded returns? How can I do that by tracking daily NAVs?
As long as the method and period of comparison is consistent, you can look at either point-to-point or compounded returns. For equity funds, it is better to look at returns over the long term, preferably a business cycle, rather than look at returns on a daily basis.
Since fund houses are charging customers more for their expansion in tier II and tier III cities, should I invest in funds that concentrate in big cities? How would I know that?
While expense is one of the things you should definitely look at while investing in the fund, other criteria, such as the management team, the investment philosophy of the fund you are investing in and the consistency of performance are equally, if not more, important factors. You can check the
expense ratio of funds on their factsheets, or on their websites.
Is it alarming if a fund reports returns lower than the benchmark? Should one move out of it? What are the implications of switching funds, say, once a year?
A fund delivering returns lower than the benchmark is not a concern if that is over the short term, such as a year. However, if the fund consistently delivers returns lower than the benchmark over the long term (3-5 years), it is definitely a matter of concern it shows that something
is not working for the fund. It could be the result of poor fund management skills, poor processes, lack of proper risk management or poor execution
Do I have to pay any tax on
the annual dividends from MF schemes? If yes, at what rate?
Mutual fund dividends are tax-free in the hands of the investor. However, MFs deduct dividend distribution tax while crediting the dividend. For equity funds, however,
no dividend distribution tax is deducted. For debt MFs, dividend distribution tax stands at 25%, which the AMC deducts if you are an individual investor.
How are fixed maturity plans (FMPs) better than bank or post office deposits? Are the principal and returns guaranteed?
FMP investments, when made in the growth option and held for more than a year, are subject to long-term capital gains, which can be beneficial from the tax angle compared to bank deposits or post office deposits, where interest income is taxed at marginal rates. Principal and returns are not guaranteed in any MF investment. However, since FMPs invest in hold-to-maturity portfolios of bonds, an estimate of the returns can be made based on the composition of the portfolio and the yields at the time of investment.
Since gold prices are volatile now due to the Iraq crisis, should I redeem some of my gold ETF units?
Gold prices are likely to benefit if the Iraq crisis continues people tend to move towards safe haven assets like gold or dollar during periods of crisis.
Gold could also benefit if the rupee depreciates on account of any increase in oil prices. So, tactically, it would be better to hold on to gold ETFs in such times.
More importantly, it is crucial to look at gold as part of overall strategic asset allocation, and then decide on whether to book profits or add to your gold exposure.
The writer is director, Fund Research, Morningstar India
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