Are you thinking of investing in a debt fund? If data is any indicator, you may be already there because the assets under management of debt-oriented funds held by non-HNI (high net-worth individuals) retail investors have jumped by just over 40%, as on 31 March 2017, over the previous year to reach around Rs67,000 crore. As bank deposit interest rates fall, investors begin to look for better return options. This has coincided with rising awareness about the efficiency of the mutual fund vehicle to offer a full basket of products for instant to very long-term needs. Along with the awareness have come products and fintech solutions that now allow instant access to some parts of your money. Once on-boarded and linked to an online platform or app, mutual fund investing is a breeze.
But you said debt funds are safe. Financial advisers and mutual fund distributors must have heard this statement many times over the past week. The trigger was the fall in value of four debt schemes of Taurus Mutual Fund. The net asset values, or price, fell between 7% and 11% over just a day.
Mutual fund investors do not often see these kind of price crashes overnight even in their equity schemes—which are seen to be riskier than debt funds. Worse, the funds were ranked highly by most third-party rating agencies such as Value Research, Morningstar and Funds India (Mint50 does not have recommendations for liquid and ultra short-term debt funds and has done away with looking at star ratings while evaluating longer-tenure debt funds). Investors, distributors and advisers (correctly) find using a star rating an easy way to shortlist funds before they sift further.