Many investors shun equity completely to avoid risk. All who do so run the risk of having their returns eaten up almost entirely by inflation. Equity investment does come with risk, with high short-term volatility, but no one should invest in the stock market for the short-term and no one have good knowledge on stock market risk & returns . It’s a long-term investment that can deliver sizeable returns, greater than even property, while offering high liquidity. The two most common ways to invest in equity is through the stock market and through mutual funds. Let’s understand which one you’re more suited to.
You can make pots of money investing in the stock market. Ask anyone who invested in Infosys in the early ’90s or Reliance in the ’80s. There’s so much money to be made that a salaried professional would wonder why he doesn’t give up the 9-to-5 and just invest in equity. But there’s a catch, of course. Stock market investment takes skill, effort and time, failing which, you could end up losing a lot of money.
Traders vs investors: People who invest in the stock market can be divided into two types: traders and investors. Traders seek to make a profit from the difference between today’s and tomorrow’s prices. This takes special skills and is also time-consuming and risky. An investor, on the other hand, does away with short-term fluctuations by staying invested for the long term.
While trading is surely not for most people, long-term investment can be considered by those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to study companies’ fundamentals and technical indicators of growth. As you’re doing it all on your own, you keep the gains entirely (minus what you pay a broker, for a demat account or in tax, if any).
Mutual funds offer most of the gains of the stock market — at a small price. Instead of learning about the market and following sectors/companies, you simply pay professional investors to grow your money. You continue with your life and job while your money grows along with the market. The money you invest is pooled along with the funds of millions of others like you to create a fund (hence, mutual fund).
If you’re the type of investor who doesn’t like risk, but understands the risk inherent in safer investments, equity mutual funds are a good way to get going with this asset class. For a small fee, your money is managed and growing.
Diversification: Moreover, mutual funds allows diversification within the stock market. Whereas you’re risking your money on one particular company when you buy shares, a mutual fund is a pooled investment. One mutual fund will have investments in several stocks. So if one company has a poor quarter or gets bad PR over a year, your money is not fully exposed to it. For example, when Satyam’s stock crashed, their shareholders would have lost a lot, whereas mutual fund investors would not lost much less.
To put it succinctly, therefore, stock market investment is for those with an understanding of the markets and the time to keep track of how a company is performing. Mutual fund investment requires less specialised knowledge and involves less effort.
Since you’re wondering whether you should invest in mutual funds or stock market, we’ll assume you’re new to equities altogether. In case you’re still wondering about the stock markekt risk & returns, here you should know about some benefits of mutual funds.
Tax benefits: Equities are the most effective instruments from the perspective of taxation. Dividends are exempt from tax. Dividend Distribution Tax is not applicable. There is no capital gains tax if held for a period of one year. Even short-term capital gain is subject to a flat rate of 15%. The rules are same irrespective of direct investment in equity or through mutual funds.
Beats inflation: The good part of investing in equities is that they give inflation-beating returns (on a conservative basis) over the long term. The guy who is running the grocery store may be making more money than the young software professional. That is because, the returns are much higher in business. In most cases, even if the investment is made at high valuations, but in good stocks, the investor earns a decent return over the long run. On the other hand, your average FD offers returns that leave you worse off after tax. This may be a bigger risk than the risk involved in equity investment.
No interest rate reduction risks: Sure, equity has its own risks, but mostly over the short term. On the other hand, with non-equity investments, you run the risk of interest rate reduction. Economists tend to reduce interest rates so that businesses can flourish. Have you realised, though, that all your fixed income instruments, such as post office savings schemes, fixed deposits and bonds all have lower yields as a result? And if your FD matures when interest rates are at 5-6%, your money doesn’t even keep pace with inflation. Equity mutual funds may give poor returns over a couple of quarters, but over the long term, you’re very likely to see double-digit returns.
The most disturbing reason for investing in equity is investor desire (or ‘greed’) to make quick profits. Equity investments are the best asset category for building wealth, but they are no “get rich quick” solutions. You may get ‘tips’ from so-called experts, but if you think that a stock or mutual fund will double or triple in a few days, get it out of your mind quick. Equity investment is for the long term. If you have a financial commitment for the next 5 years, it is preferable to park the money in debt. Equity is strictly for long term investors and have stock market risks & returns . The technical definition of long term is more than 10 years. For those not in it for the long haul, equity is othe best choice.
Almost everybody can invest in equity. The only exception is a person who needs money in the short term. If there are financial goals falling due within the next 5 years (retirement, children’s education, etc), it is preferable to move investments (or at least a large portion) into debt.
To tackle the various risks associated with equity, such as study of the business, valuation of such business, etc it is highly recommended that professional help is taken. Instead of investing directly into equity, it is better to invest in direct mutual funds that are equity oriented.
Whether it is equity or equity oriented direct mutual funds, investment in equity should be for a time horizon in excess of 5 years. Of course, mutual funds allow the flexibility to liquidate investments any time, but realization of financial goals can happen only by allowing equity to work over a reasonably long timeframe.
There cannot be a generalized asset allocation for one and all. A professional investment advisor such as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) will help you arrive at the right allocation. RIAs are registered with the Stock Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and play a fiduciary role. This means that they are focused on giving you right interest for a fee. It is illegal for them to make any commission income.
Equity is an asset class that provides inflation-beating returns. One should not ignore or avoid equity investments considering equity as risky. As we’ve explained, there is risk is fixed income securities, too.
Mutual Funds are having actively managed Stocks. They provide great diversification than Stock. Individual Investors hod more stocks than Mutual Funds. In Mutual Funds, more risks are there but earning is better than Stocks.It is better to invest in direct mutual funds that are equity oriented.total market capitalisation in India is held through equity funds.
The Indian political economy is undergoing turbulent times. Two major events in the last month are significant. How does an India investor…
Conventional thinking is that only the rich can afford a financial advisor. After all, a financial advisor helps accelerate wealth…
Choosing a right investment advisor could get stressful, more so if you already have an 'advisor' and you need to change…
Here is a handy list of funds that are available for an SIP of just Rs 100. Fund Class 3…
We are living in interesting times. I wrote last week about the recent mutual fund market correction. Turns out that…
This being an eventful week of an eventful month, I would like to share some more thoughts. The equity markets…