Comparison between mutual funds and fixed deposits is a long debate, especially when it comes to a comparison between fixed deposits and debt mutual funds. Even a few years ago, any conservative and risk averse investor would think investing in bank fixed deposits is better than mutual funds (debt or otherwise). Nevertheless, the market scenario has changed a lot in the recent years, and many a mutual funds family has come up with interest debt mutual fund schemes with guaranteed returns alongside capital appreciations. This makes the comparison between debt mutual funds versus fixed deposits more complex, and even the most risk averse investor (count my father!) is led to think twice. That being said, whether you should invest in bank fixed deposits or debt mutual funds is no more a simple question as it used to be five-six years back, and needs a detailed examination and explanation. And, we at Mutual Funds Manager are here again to help you with a neutral comparison between fixed deposits and mutual funds. Aren't we great? :-) So, mutual funds and fixed deposits, which is better?
While only you can finally decide whether mutual funds or fixed deposit where to invest — depending on your risk taking abilities, return expectations, and investment horizons — let us try to analyse some key factors one by one and chalk out a comparison between bank FD and mutual funds. 1. Return on investments vary for mutual funds, but not bank deposits Needless to repeat, bank deposits offer you a fixed percentage of return, as would be agreed upon by the investor and the bank at the time of the investment. For example, if you put 50 thousand rupees in FD for 5 years and the agreed interest rate is 8% per annum, you will continue to enjoy the same interest rate throughout the tenure. On the other hand, debt mutual funds have no assured rate, and the return on investment for debt mutual funds depend completely on the market and the performance of the fund. Fluctuations in the money market impacts the NAV of the fund, thereby altering returns. Thus, a great advantage of bank fixed deposits is that, you will continue to earn the same interest rates even if the market goes down.
Nevertheless, this very advantage of fixed deposits over mutual funds can actually turn out to be their great disadvantage. If the market goes up mutual funds will give more returns accordingly, but your FD will continue to yield in the same old rate. So, the actual question becomes, whether there is any chance of the Indian market going up in near future, especially following the recent recession? Yes, there is. At least, we think so. Market researches and predictions indicate that the Indian money market will go up in 2013, may get stagnant for a while in 2014, then taking another upward curve.
Mutual Funds Manager's Recommendation: For longer tenures, mutual funds are as good as fixed deposits, if not better.
2. Comparison between mutual funds & fixed deposits: Inflation adjustment Inflation adjustment is a very important point while comparing mutual funds and fixed deposits. FDs don't come with inflation adjustment guarantees, and if the interest rate is lower than the inflation rate, you actually end up losing the value of your money. In the FY 2011-12, the inflation rate in India was 7%, while the interest rate for around 1 year tenure was something around 7% as well [6.5% for ICICI and HDFC banks, 6.75% for Citibank and HSBC, 7.10% for Axis and Yes Bank and so on. Higher rates are there, but for lump-sum investments like 1 crore.]. Thus, if you have invested in bank FDs for the last FY, you either failed to beat inflation or ended up with minimal inflation adjusted positive returns. On the other hand, at least half a dozen mutual funds yielded returns greater than 8% (some as high as 12-14%), thereby giving you handsome inflation adjusted returns. Usually, mutual funds outrun inflation and...