Even if the scheme passes all tests, it is best to be prudent
As a general rule, Certified Financial Planners and other mutual fund advisors, desist from recommending a new fund or scheme to their clients. They prefer to opt for tried and tested schemes, mainly due to the following reasons:
- These schemes have a long track record behind them and have displayed their investment-worthiness over different market cycles.
- In many cases, the fund manager has not changed for long periods. This lends stability and style-purity to the scheme.
- Such schemes are closely tracked and rated by reputed mutual fund research agencies. Besides, many of them also win some award or the other periodically, thereby, ensuring that they enjoy top-of-the-mind recall.
- Many of these schemes enjoy certain critical mass in terms of Assets Under Management (AUM). Thus, the hazard of destabilising outflows is not very high.
Apart from certain positive reasons for their choices, certain negative reasons too play a part:
- There have been exuberant periods (say, 2000 and 2007) where New Fund Offers (NFOs) of various hues have received overwhelming response, but whose subsequent performance left a bitter taste in the mouth. Advisors who recommended some of these blockbuster NFOs now exhibit the 'once-bitten-twice shy' syndrome.
- There was a time when the Regulator permitted mutual funds to defray the issue expenses over a certain period in the case of the NFOs of close-ended schemes. This led to mutual funds offering hefty commissions to distributors, who, in turn, went overboard recommending these NFOs. Now, that such defraying has been prohibited, the enthusiasm of distributors, too, has waned.
- The most obvious reason is, if the NFO offers something which the current crop does not. Such as: Investing in new markets / asset classes. However, needlessly exotic / niche investment mandates should be viewed with a degree of scepticism.
- If the NFO offers a low-cost approach to investing in an existing asset-class, say, as in an Exchange Traded Index Fund.
- The quality of the Sponsor: As money management is a profession, it is vital that Mutual fund Sponsors enjoy a clean image. They should not have been penalised by any Regulator for misdemeanours. Also, a Sponsor Company with a single dominant promoter could be seen as more stable than one in which has a motley group of financial investors, who may be keen to cash out as soon as possible.
- The focus of the Sponsor: Are the sponsors already undertaking 'money-management' related activities in any other avatar, say, through a Portfolio Management Scheme (PMS)? If yes, are they willing to share its performance with the general public on their website (not on the mutual fund's website, as that is prohibited). It will be heartening if they indicate that, going ahead, all other schemes which compete with the mutual fund, will be discontinued.
- The investment process: A scheme which outlines its investment process in black-and-white, scores over one which does not. This is because, once any commitment is given in writing, there is an implicit tendency to stick to it, as deviating from it will be perceived to be a sign of weakness.
- The investment management team: If a new mutual fund's investment team has worked together for a long period (say, either in the Sponsor Company's PMS outfit or at any other asset manager) there will be a greater degree of understanding between them, as compared to a team which has been poached from disparate sources. This should also be seen as a plus point.
In a nutshell, do not avoid a new fund offer merely because it has no track record. Assess it on the basic of the above metrics and opt for it if it passes these tests.
The original article could be seen here.