Debt funds are a popular choice among Indian investors due to their potential for stable returns and relatively lower risk compared to equity investments. However, selecting the right one can take time and effort with a wide range of debt funds available in the market.
Factors to look for before selecting a mutual debt fund
Yield to maturity:
Yield to Maturity (YTM) is a crucial parameter that indicates the potential return an investor can expect from a debt mutual fund until its maturity. YTM considers the current market price, coupon rate, and maturity time.
A higher YTM generally signifies a higher potential return and risk. Therefore, evaluating the YTM of different funds and aligning it with your risk appetite and investment goals is essential.
Expense ratio represents the annual fees the mutual fund house charges for managing your investment. It is a percentage of the fund’s average assets under management (AUM).
A lower expense ratio implies a higher portion of the returns being passed on to investors. When comparing debt mutual funds, opting for funds with a lower expense ratio is prudent, as it can significantly impact your overall returns in the long run.
Maturity and duration:
Maturity and duration are essential parameters that indicate the average time until the debt securities held by the mutual fund mature. Maturity refers to the time remaining for the securities to reach maturity dates. At the same time, duration measures the sensitivity of the fund’s NAV (Net Asset Value) to changes in interest rates.
Short-term funds with lower maturity and duration are relatively less volatile and suitable for investors seeking stability. In contrast, long-term funds may offer higher returns but carry a higher risk.
Interest rates have a profound impact on debt mutual funds. When interest rates increase, the value of current debt securities usually goes down. As a result, the NAV of debt funds decreases.
Conversely, falling interest rates can boost the NAV of debt funds. Therefore, assessing the current interest rate scenario and choosing a debt fund that aligns with your interest rate outlook is essential. Consider funds that have the flexibility to adapt to changing interest rate environments, such as dynamic bond funds.
Credit risk portfolio:
Credit risk refers to the possibility of default by the debt security issuer. Debt mutual funds with higher credit risk portfolios offer potentially higher returns but come with increased credit risk.
Evaluating the credit quality of the debt securities the fund holds and the fund manager’s expertise in managing credit risk is of utmost importance. Look for funds with a diversified portfolio that includes securities with different credit ratings, reducing the concentration risk associated with a particular issuer or industry.
To wrap up
Choosing the right debt fund requires careful consideration of various factors that align with your financial goals and risk appetite. Remember, selecting the right debt fund is critical to achieving your financial objectives and ensuring a secure and stable investment journey.