Plenty of Mutual Fund offers. Plethora of information. But, of no use. When it’s time to invest, it’s a common man’s common problem to choose the right one. Try to investigate. Most of the people are stuck in Funds, that were performed well in the past. But currently, not even meeting the benchmark index. All this happens, only when the investor lacks proper knowledge about guidelines, that need to be followed, while investigating into the Mutual Funds.

A cartoon of a person confused to select a good mutual fund for his portfolio


It’s simple, to pick a well suited Mutual Fund, that matches our requirements. Fund houses are ready with variety of Mutual Funds, that are well tailored to match the financial requirements of people from all walks of life. They are well planned and designed, keeping in mind the financial obligations of different streams of investors. So, it’s our choice to pick the right one to meet our financial goals.

Here are certain guidelines to come up that winner to suit to your financial goals. Let’s Beat the Benchmark Index like a Pro.

Know Your Goals, Risk Profile And Investment Horizons Before Choosing A Mutual Fund

The goal or the investment objective should be the first criteria while choosing the mutual fund for your investment. Goals can be classified as high, medium and low in terms of capital gains. Risk and return go hand in hand. High goal seekers with aggressive return expectations are compulsory to invest in equity oriented mutual fund schemes. These are comparatively riskier than other types of funds, with huge return opportunities. Debt funds are always there for risk averse medium and low goal investors.

A picture of a man's hands , calculating mutual fund returns and writing on a sheet.

An investor with long-term investment period is best to choose a long-term capital growth equity or balanced fund. A young investor with long-term goals, which would probably be high falls in this category. But, an investor with near and medium-term targets are better to engage with short-term debt oriented mutual fund schemes.

What is the category to select?

Debt? Equity? Or Hybrid? Your age, risk taking capacity, investment horizon and future targets are the factors that decide upon the category.

Check Back The Fund Managers Past Performance

Few funds are managed by an expert team. And, few are by a single star fund manager. In the first case, where there is an expert team to manage  the fund the performance would be very clear and peaceful.

Whereas, the fund managed by a single expert manager, we need to look his / her past performance track record. This facilitate us to guess his /her future performance.

Consistency Is The Main Criteria

Duly have a check on the fund performance during those market fall periods. If the fund had done well even in the bear phase, we can say that it has beaten the index.  Otherwise, if had done well in the bull market, and became dull during the fall, it’s a type of fair weather friend. Keep it away.

Consistency in performance is the symbol of its stamina to win. One can be sure to assume that it will beat the Index in the future too. Good to look for the consistency in performance, over longer periods like 3, 5 and 10 years. Have a look at NAV’s of past years. Look for its growth percentage.

Know About The Fund House’s Pedigree

The track record of a fund house is as important as any other factors that help us in selecting a good mutual fund. Try to identify, fund houses with a strong presence and excellent track record in the financial world. Such fund houses have their own investment experiences as well as efficient processes. Consistency in returns is the main feature of these schemes. Sustained performance over a long period of time results in consistent returns.

Make Use Of Statiscal Measuring Tools /Metrics

There are certain risk measuring statistical tools, that may otherwise indicate the investment risks associated with their returns. These indicators make use of historical data for the analysis of not only mutual funds, but also the stocks and bonds.

These ratios simply compare the mutual fund return with the market benchmarks.

Alpha (α)

The simplest definition of an alpha would be the excess return of a fund compared to its benchmark index. If a fund has an alpha of 10%, it means it has outperformed its benchmark by 10% during a specified period.

Beta (β)

Beta measures the mutual fund’s performance-swing /volatility, compared to a benchmark.

For example, a fund with a Beta of 1 means it’s NAV will move 10% upside↑ /downside ↓ in respect of the benchmark index.

High Beta – For aggressive goal seekers with risk taking capacity for the possible high returns


Low Beta – For less aggressive, risk averse investors, who are seeking for stable returns.

Standard Deviation (σ) (SD)

It’s the statistical return measuring method. It actually measures the deviation of returns from their mean value. In Mutual Funds, Standard Deviation  is used to measure the possible deviation in returns from its historical mean value.

Assume that a Mutual Fund with an Average Rate of Return of 12%. And a Standard Deviation of 3%. Then,  this Mutual Fund has the possibility of giving returns which will vary from 9% – 15%.

So, it is most obvious that, risk taking investors will prefer to choose funds with high Standard Deviation (SD). And risk averse, the funds with low SD.

Sharpe Ratio

One of the most popularly considered and used indicators to measure, Risk Vs Return is Sharpe Ratio. It was developed by Nobel Laureate William F.Sharpe. Hence is known as Sharpe Ratio.

Each investment in the Mutual Fund Portfolio comes with its own degree of risk. Returns should always be in proportion to the amount of risk taken by any investment. Only such investments are worth buying.

Sahrpe Ratio measures the excess return per unit of risk taken over the risk-free return. Here, risk-free return is the return given by risk-free instruments like Treasury Bills and Government Bonds

Sharp Ratio (S) = (Mean Portfolio Return-Risk Free Rate) /Standard Deviation of the Portfolio Return


(S) = rp – rf /σp

The Sharpe Ratio tells, how well the Mutual Fund has performed in proportion to the risk taken by it.

The higher the Sharpe Ratio, the better would be the ‘risk-adjusted- return’ of the Mutual Fund Portfolio

A good mutual fund is one which gives better returns than its peers for the same kind and amount of risk taken.

Loads and Charges

As said by the American Science Fiction Writer and Novelist, “Nothing of Value Free…..”, applies to Mutual Funds also. As an investor, it is very important to know the charges levied by the Mutual Funds. Less or more, directly or indirectly all those Fund Managing and Distributing expenses are collected from the investors anyhow. But, where the care should be taken is to select the Mutual Fund that charges less.

There are two types of fee that an investor need to pay as one time payment. They are broadly,


Entry Load

This load is levied at the time of buying the Mutual Fund Units. Actually, this entry load is collected by selling the units at a higher price than the existed unit price. So, the purchasing price hikes. But, this load has been abolished by SEBI in August 2009. So, no need of worrying about it.

Exit Load

This load is a factor of the holding period. If an investor stays invested till the end of the holding period, as mentioned in scheme related documents, it is exempted. No exit load is charged.

Before the holding period, it will be charged at the rate as mentioned in the scheme related documents. Usually, the percentage of charging varies from 0.5% – 3%. And, this charge is collected by the fund, by buying back the units at the lower than the current NAV.

Hence, if the investor is not sure about the holding period, better to choose a scheme with lower exit load.


Transaction Charges

These are also one time charges, to be paid by the investor at the time of purchasing the scheme. These are collected by the fund to pay to the intermediary /distributor. Hence, is also known as a Sales Load.

This fee is applicable for the investment amount of over Rs.10,000/-.

Rs.100/- for the SIP commitment of Rs. 10,000/- or above. These charges are deducted over 4 installments starting from the 2nd installment to 5th installment.

Recurring Charges

These expenses are charged on a daily basis and is deducted from the net asset value. The daily NAV is declared after deducting /adjusting these expenses. There are certain guidelines and mutual funds can’t charge more than the stipulated fee structure.

Even though, the fee structure is regulated, it varies based on the Net Assets of the Mutual Fund. More the net assets held by the fund, less are the recurring expenses and vice versa.

Expense Ratio

When you come up with Mutual Funds of similar nature, the next step is to consider their expense ratios. It’s better to choose the fund with low expense ratio. This will benefit you in the long run.

The whole fixed expenses of the Mutual Fund are spread out equally over the investors. In the case of funds with higher asset base, these expenses are spread over the large number of investors. Hence, the higher is the Assets Under Management, the lower is the ‘Expense Ratio’ or ‘Expense to Assets Under management Ratio’.

So, it is advisable to choose funds with high ‘Assets Under Management (AUM)’, and avoid the funds with less Asset Base /Assets Under Management.

Portfolio Turnover Ratio

The total cost incurred by the scheme is a function of the turnover ratio. The greater the ratio, the more is the cost charged by the fund. So, a fund with the lower turnover ratio is preferable over the fund with a higher turnover ratio.

Hameeda Ghori

Certified Financial Planner And Stock Analyst

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