A mutual fund is a professionally managed company that collects money from many investors and invests it in securities such as stocks, bonds and short-term debt, equity or bond funds and money market funds.
Mutual funds are a good investment for investors looking to diversify their portfolio. Instead of betting everything on one company or sector, a mutual fund invests in different stocks to try to minimize portfolio risk.
The term is typically used in the US, Canada and India, while similar structures around the world include the SICAV in Europe and the open-ended investment firm in the UK.
What is a better option for retirement planning: mutual funds or insurance?
Pension plans provide a guaranteed source of income in the form of an annuity in retirement. However, they do not provide immediate liquidity for emergencies and offer limited choice in terms of diversification and investment styles. The premium paid for a retirement plan is tax-deductible.
Mutual fund investments are not tax-deductible unless you’ve invested in an ELSS fund, but they give you much more variety and flexibility in designing a retirement plan to suit your needs. If you are young, you can start SIPs in equity funds based on your risk preferences and continue SIPs near your retirement. You would have built a good corpus by then that can be transferred to short-term debt funds through STP (Systematic Transfer Plan) 2-3 years before retirement to reduce risk.
If you have not planned your retirement well in advance via SIP, but are now thinking about it just before retirement, you can invest your flat-rate savings and opt for SWP to withdraw a specified amount each month after retirement.
Pension plans have a conservative allocation and offer a stable return while you need to choose a fund with an appropriate allocation in case of mutual funds. Because annuity income is taxed according to your income plate while you only pay capital gains tax on mutual fund withdrawals, mutual funds can be more tax efficient.