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How to profit from Mutual Funds?

 If we want to go to Goa from Mumbai there are several vehicular options. We
can travel by airplane, drive in car or bus, take a train or sail in ship.
Similarly when we want to make any kind of investment, there are different
investment vehicles e.g. mutual fund, portfolio management services (PMS,)
direct (investing on your own), insurance etc.

Goa is the destination and airplane; car; bus; train, ship etc are vehicles.
Similarly, debt, equity and property are asset classes and mutual fund; PMS;
'direct' and insurance are investment vehicles. It is important to clarify
here that property includes real estate, bullion, collectibles, art etc. To
invest in Debt, Equity & Property we have to choose investment vehicles,
which suit are requirement. (Also read - Quick buck for lazy investors.
Here's how!)

In earlier times 'direct' was the only investment vehicle available. If we
wanted to buy fixed deposit/bond we had to apply on our own. Similarly, when
we wanted to buy shares, we had to call up stock brokers, who would procure
shares on our behalf and same was the case with property. The cost involved
in 'direct' buying is least amongst all investment vehicles. However we need
to have skills and time to use this form of investing.

Another investment vehicle is a mutual fund. Mutual fund works on the
concept of pooling in money. Assume there are 5 to 6 friends who want to
invest money in a particular asset class say equity. Also assume they do not
have skills and time. However one of them knows an expert who regularly
invests in stock markets. All these friends go to an expert and give him
their investment amount. The expert invests on their behalf. If there is
profit in investment, they all benefit and if there is any loss they suffer.
Experts get certain fee for investing on their behalf. This is the concept
of a mutual fund. Investing in mutual fund is slightly expensive than
?direct? form of investing. However the decision-making and procedure of
investing is transferred to the Mutual Fund Company. (Also read - One-stop
guide: How to profit through Mutual funds?)

Insurance as an investment vehicle works somewhat similar to mutual fund as
far as ULIPs are concerned. While traditional insurance plans invest only in
debt-based products and are not market linked, ULIP invests in debt, equity
as well as a combination of the two. Only difference in case of insurance is
that expenses charged by insurance company are much higher compared to most
other investment vehicles.

PMS is usually tailor-made for your needs. Based on your financial goals
portfolio managers create investment portfolio for you. For creating and
maintaining your portfolio, PMS charges fees. Also if your portfolio earns
profit beyond a certain amount, then the portfolio manager shares the
profit. However if there are losses then the same is charged to your account

While choosing any investment vehicle keep in mind your skills, time
available with you to create and maintain your investments and costs

If you have the skills and time available with you then ?direct? form of
investing is ideal as it has least of costs amongst all other vehicles.
(Also read - One-stop guide: How to profit through Mutual funds?)

On the other hand insurance is the most expensive investment vehicle and
hence it should be kept away from as far as possible.

PMS services works better for wealthy (high net worth) individuals. Though
profits have to be shared, there is also advantage of getting tailor-made
portfolio. Only catch is to ensure that portfolio created and maintained for
you is tailor-made and that the PMS is not another mutual fund scheme, where
all investors get the same portfolio.

For small and medium investor ? who does not have skills and time ? mutual
fund seems the best option.

Currently in India we have mutual funds, which invest in two asset classes,
debt and equity. However in the very near future there is a likelihood of
having mutual funds, which will invest in gold as well as real estate.

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