What You Should Know
All mutual funds have fees and expenses that are paid by investors. These costs are significant because they affect the return on the investment; therefore investors need to calculate their returns net of all such deductions. The fees and any other charges are usually mentioned in the offering documents and the fund brochure printed by the Asset Management Company. Fees generally fall into two categories: a) management fees and b) load charges. Management fees is calculated as a fixed percentage of the average net assets managed by the firm for providing office space and professional management, including all accounting and administrative services. The second category is sales commissions described as “front-end loads” (sales charges when you buy) or “back-end loads” (sales charges when you sell). “No-load” funds, as the name implies, do not have front-end or back-end sales charges. These fees are for undertaking the distribution and selling of the funds.
Taxation on Mutual Funds
The income of mutual funds is exempt from Income Tax, if not less than 90% of the income of the year, as reduced by capital gains is distributed amongst the unit holders as dividend or bonus units.
Taxation on Unit Holders
Holders of mutual funds are subject to Income Tax on dividend income received from a mutual fund (excluding the amount of dividend paid out of capital gains on listed securities) as under:
- Public Company and Insurance Company 5%
- If received by any other person, including a non-resident 10%
Capital gain on disposition of units in a mutual fund is exempted from tax till such time that capital gain on sale of securities listed on the stock exchanges is exempt from such tax.
As funds are listed at the stock exchanges, unit holders of the mutual funds, other than a company, are entitled to a tax credit under section 62 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 on purchase of new units. The amount on which tax credit is allowed is the lower of (a) amount invested in purchase of new units, (b) twenty percent of the taxable income of the unit holder, or (c ) Rupees One Million (PKR.1,000,000), and is calculated by applying the average rate of tax of the unit holder for the tax year. If the units are disposed within twenty four months, the amount of tax payable for the tax year in which the units are disposed is increased by the amount of credit allowed.
How to Develop an Investment Plan?
The first step to successful investing for any investor is to develop a clear understanding of his expected return from the investment and define his risk tolerance to help him identify a suitable choice of investment.
- Investors need to establish financial goals with respect to the requirements from the investment and time horizon for realizing these goals. Goals may be immediate such as making a down payment on a home, paying for a wedding, or creating a college fund. Long-term goals could be like paying for college or retirement. Establishing goals helps to assess how much money you need to invest, how much the investments must earn, and when the money will be required.
- Investors need to study the financial markets to understand the options available to them and forecast a realistic market expectation of future performance. Setting realistic expectations about investments and about market performance is an important part of the investment plan. Securities do not always rise in value, and when they fall, the downturns can sometimes be lengthy. A well-conceived, diversified personal investment plan can help against these downturns, and give a measure of comfort during market volatility.
- Investors need to build their investment plan keeping in view liquidity and financial limitations. For instance, investors may need to make payments in the near future which restrict them from committing large sums of money for an indefinite period.
- All mutual funds involve investment risk, including the possible loss of principal. To generate some returns a certain degree of risk is inevitable. This principle of investing is known as the risk/ reward tradeoff. When forming a plan, therefore the investor needs to understand his threshold risk tolerance levels. Is stability more important than higher returns, or can short-term losses be tolerated for potential long-term gains?
- Investors should be able to set risk and return objectives after these considerations. Risk and return objectives must be set in specific terms for instance an investor may require 15% return p.a. with an expected standard deviation of 2% for the next 5 years.
Risks of Investing in Mutual Funds
Mutual funds are capital market instruments and therefore subject to the same risks as the underlying investments. Specific risks include:
- Credit risk - potential that an investment (specifically fixed-income securities) will go down when assigned a negative rating (downgraded) by a reputable credit rating service.
- Default risk - risk associated with an issuer of a debt instrument that may not have the financial ability to meet regular interest payments or is incapable of repaying the debt at maturity.
- Equity investment risk - risk resulting from changes in a specific company or industry developments and prospects, as well as changes in interest rates, economic conditions and stock market news.
- Interest rate risk - risk resulting from increased interest rates in the market place, that the income earned from an original investment will not be worth as much as the going market rates.
- Liquidity risk - inability to sell a security reasonably quickly at the prevailing market price or convert an asset into cash as quickly as possible.
- Political risk - potential for changes in government to impact the value of an investment. It may also include policy changes made by governments.
Mutual funds is a highly regulated industry by the SECP. To keep investors informed about the fund’s performance the management publishes daily returns on their website, monthly fund manager’s reports and quarterly and annual audited accounts. Legal documents affecting the fund’s operations are also available on the company websites or present at all sales offices.
- Prospectus/ Offering document - A mutual fund’s prospectus describes the fund’s goals, fees and charges, investment strategies and risks, as well as information on how to buy and sell units. The SECP requires a fund to provide a full prospectus before accepting any investment.
- Trust Deed - Agreement signed, between the trustee and the fund sponsors, which details the appointment of the trustee/ custodian and the roles and responsibilities as trustee and custodian which include safekeeping and possession of the fund’s assets, movements of the fund’s assets and their investment.
- Financial Statements - These statements show the performance of the fund in the outgoing period and help the investor evaluate how successfully the fund has achieved its stated objectives. Shareholder reports typically include two main types of information a) the fund’s financial statements and performance and b) a list of the securities the fund held in its portfolio at the end of the most recent accounting period.
- Reports and Website Information - AMCs regularly update their websites with daily fund prices, whereas monthly fund manager’s reports are added when the month ends, which details the market conditions, reasons for the fund’s performance and future outlook.
Websites also provide fund prices (recent or historical), compare trends, company information, copies of all legal documents and other useful data.