Overnight Fund v/s Liquid Fund v/s Ultra Short Fund….

Debt funds are mutual funds wherein the underlying investments are held in fixed income instruments. They are mainly differentiated by the maturity term and the type of underlying instruments held in the portfolio of the mutual fund.

Debt Mutual Funds

Debt mutual funds strive to provide regular income along with scope of capital appreciation by investing in fixed interest generating instruments like treasury bills, government bonds, quasi-government bonds issues by institutions like railways, PSU banks, etc., corporate bonds, money market instruments among others.

Mutual funds that invest in highly rated instruments and that invest in short maturity instruments have less volatility and carry low risk. But those funds that invest in long term bonds with lower ratings carry higher volatility and risk.

Types of debt mutual funds and their suitability

There are various types of Debt mutual funds that invest in different instruments and maturity periods. The below are few common debt funds;

Debt FundsType of Instruments/DurationSuitability
Overnight FundOvernight securities with maturity of 1 dayOvernight Fund are Suitable for parking funds for a few days. These are safe and have negligible volatility
Liquid FundDebt and money market instruments having a maturity of up to 91 daysLiquid Fund are suitable for a couple of weeks. Better returns than savings bank accounts
Ultra Short Duration FundDebt & Money Market instruments & Macaulay duration is  between 3 – 6 monthsUltra short fund returns higher than Fixed Deposits but have more volatility and risk
Low Duration FundDebt & Money Market instruments & Macaulay duration  is  between 6 – 12 monthsReturns higher than Fixed Deposits. Have more volatility and credit quality risk.
Short Duration FundDebt & Money Market instruments & Macaulay duration is  between 1 – 3 yearsLow interest rate fluctuations. Suitable for short term goals
Medium Duration FundDebt & Money Market instruments & Macaulay duration  is  between 4 – 7 yearsSuitable for conservative investors looking for debt allocation. Better tax treatment
Long Duration FundDebt & Money Market instruments & Macaulay duration  is  above 7 yearsHigher interest rate risk and volatility. Suitable for investors how have longer investment durations
Dynamic Bond FundInvestments in instruments across different durationsSuitable for investors looking to benefit from changes in interest rates and stay invested for 3 – 5 years
Corporate Bond FundMin 80% of total investments in Highly Rated Corporate BondsScope for higher returns than short term funds with higher risk
Credit Risk Mutual FundMin 65% of total investments in below Highly Rated Corporate BondsInvestments in high interest yielding low rated bonds. Risker than most other mutual funds

Popularity of Debt Mutual Funds

The interest rates of bank fixed deposits and other small savings instruments have fallen drastically and have seriously impacted the financial goals of many individuals. Most notably is the impact on cash flows of senior citizens who depend on interest income for their daily sustenance.Preferential tax treatment – Investments that are held for more than 3 years get preferential tax treatment. The income tax department allows indexation benefits on such investments and taxed the gains at a flat tax rate of 20% post indexation irrespective of the individual’s tax slab. This effectively reducing the tax liability by a great extent.

Flexibility – These mutual funds do not have any lock-in period and allows investor to utilize their funds when any need arises. In addition, the investor can align his investments with his goal duration and maximize the returns.

No Penalty – Unlike fixed deposits, mutual funds that invest in short duration instruments have no exit load/penalty for early withdrawal. In times of need the investor does not have the additional burden of penalties.

Higher Returns – While they do offer greater returns, the returns are not guaranteed and their values are greatly linked to the interest rates and general activity in the economy.

These mutual funds offer various other benefits in addition to the above. Not all debt funds are safe; some are more volatile and carry more risk. It is prudent to choose the right mutual fund that is suitable for your risk profile. Talk to a SEBI Registered Fee Only Financial Planner to help you with your risk assessment and choose the right fund for your goals.

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