When To Use Index Mutual Funds For Diversification? 

Why Does One Need Diversification In Investment?


By spreading investments over numerous financial instruments, industries, and other categories, diversification is an approach for lowering risk. By making investments in many sectors that would each respond to the same occurrence differently, it seeks to limit losses.


Diversification is the most crucial element of achieving long-term financial goals while avoiding risk, according to the majority of investing specialists, even though it does not guarantee against loss. Here, we examine the reasons for this and how to diversify your portfolio.


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Key Points


  • By investing in instruments that cover a variety of financial instruments, industries, and other categories, diversification lowers risk.


  • While systematic or market risk is typically unavoidable, unsystematic risk can be reduced by diversification.


  • Investors have the option of selecting their own assets to invest in or an index fund that is made up of a number of businesses and holdings.


  • A diversified portfolio may be difficult to balance, expensive, and have lower returns due to reduced risk.


  • Better possibilities, satisfaction in learning about new assets, and higher risk-adjusted returns may result from a diverse portfolio.



What Is A Mutual Fund?


A mutual fund is a professionally managed portfolio of securities that is dedicated to a certain investing strategy or asset class, such as stocks, bonds, and/or other income vehicles. The mutual fund firm collects money from shareholders who purchase shares in the fund and invests it on their behalf. A share is a fraction of the holdings of the fund.


What are some of the dangers of investing in mutual funds?


Mutual funds could expose investors to the following risks:


  • Possibility of loss of principal. 


  • Because portfolio managers are unable to guarantee the fund’s success, there is a chance that investors will lose their initial investment capital.


  • Effect of diversification that dilutes.


  • Diversification in a fund occasionally can reduce beneficial returns. For instance, the fund’s overall return might not change if one stock in the portfolio doubles in value.


What are some common misconceptions about investing in mutual funds?


There are two widespread false beliefs regarding mutual funds:


The underlying assets of the fund are owned by investors. The largest misconception about investing in mutual funds is that investors own shares of the holdings of the fund. That is untrue; rather than owning shares of the fund’s underlying investments, investors own shares of the fund itself.


Stocks make up the sole component of mutual funds.


Another widespread misconception is that mutual funds exclusively contain equities. In actuality, mutual funds are able to invest in a wide range of asset classes, including cash, alternatives, fixed income, and non-traditional income sources like cash.


An index fund is what?


An index fund is a form of mutual fund that invests in stocks that closely resemble those in a specific market index. This suggests that the scheme’s performance will be consistent with the benchmark index it monitors.


How To Diversify With Index Funds


There may be hundreds of stocks or thousands of stocks in an index. The majority of such equities were beyond the means of the typical investor. Mutual funds that track an index are able to purchase all of those stocks because of their larger money pools, which are made up of the dollars of tens of thousands of investors. Every stock in the index is yours when you purchase even a single share of an index fund.


Additionally, money “weights” its purchases. Thus, some equities are purchased more frequently than others. This is so that the index can account for stocks that are more likely than others to have an impact on the index. An effective index fund will weight its acquisitions similarly to the index.


In comparison to any one stock, an index has a significantly higher chance of recovering from a decline. An index fund that followed the Sensex, for instance, would have suffered a major loss in 2008. However, at the beginning of 2019, that same index would have had made major gains. 


Does that imply that a person can assure a stock market recovery every time? Nobody ever asserts that. What we can say is that it always bounces back. Even though it doesn’t guarantee it will continue, the knowledge that it always has offers some comfort. However, if the index declines, a person with a short time horizon—say, let’s five years or less—could lose money during that period. That’s because they can’t afford to wait for it to heal for a few more years. This is why long-term investors, or those who want to hold a fund for six to ten years or longer, should choose index funds.


How are Index Funds operated?


A collection of securities that characterises a specific market sector is known as an index. Index funds are considered passive fund management since they follow a certain index. The traded securities in a passively managed fund are based on the underlying benchmark. Additionally, in order to spot opportunities and select the best stock, passively managed funds do not need a professional group of research specialists.


An index fund is created to replicate the performance of its index, as opposed to an actively managed fund that works more and harder to time and outperform the market. As a result, the returns of index funds match those of the underlying market index.


With the exception of a little variation known as tracking error, the returns are roughly equivalent to the benchmark. The fund management frequently makes an effort to minimise this inaccuracy.


What Are The Advantages Of Having An Index Fund In Investment Plan?


The following are some benefits that index funds enjoy:


  • Low Costs


An effective staff of research analysts is not necessary to assist fund managers in selecting the best companies because an index fund mirrors its underlying benchmark. Additionally, there is no stock trading going on. All of these elements contribute to an index fund’s reduced managing costs.


  • Unbiased Investment


Index funds invest via an automated, law-based process. The amount to be invested in index funds of different securities is specified in the fund manager’s mandate. By doing this, human judgement or prejudice in making investment decisions is eliminated.


  • Widespread Exposure


To guarantee that the portfolio is diversified across all industries and stocks, investments should be made in a ratio that is similar to that of an index. As a result, an investor can use a single index fund to capture the likely returns on the broader sector of the market. If you choose to invest in the Nifty index fund, for example, you will have access to 50 securities distributed over 13 different industries, from pharmaceuticals to financial services.


Lower Transaction Cost Benefit of Index Fund Investing


Due to their passive management, index funds often have low turnover, or few trades made by a fund manager in a given year. Less trading means there is lower transaction cost involved with running of an index fund. 


  • Simpler To Control


Index funds are simpler to manage since fund managers don’t have to worry about how the market is treating the stocks that make up the index. All a fund manager needs to do is periodically rebalance the portfolio.


Should You Invest In Index Mutual Funds?


Your investing horizon, goals, and risk tolerance should all be taken into consideration when choosing mutual funds. Investors who are risk-averse should use index mutual funds. Such monies don’t n m eed in-depth investigation and tracking. For instance, you can choose a Nifty or Sensex index fund if you want to invest in stocks but do not want to expose yourself to the dangers involved with actively managed equity funds.


What factors ought to be taken into account by investors?


Before choosing to invest in index funds, you should think about the aspects listed below:


  • Returns On Index Funds


Index funds seek to match the market index’s performance. They do not strive to outperform actively managed funds’ benchmark. Due to tracking issues, the returns generated could occasionally fall short of those of the underlying index. The index fund will perform better the lower the errors are.


  • Risk Taking


Index funds are less vulnerable to risks and volatility associated with equities because they represent a specific market index. It makes sense to invest in index funds to get the best returns during a market upswing. However, because index funds frequently lose value during a depression, things might become ugly. Having a mix of actively and passively managed index funds in your portfolio is therefore always advisable.


  • Investment costs


When compared to actively managed funds, the expense ratio for index funds is typically 0 less. For index funds, the fund manager is not required to develop an investment strategy. Even a fund with a lower expense ratio, it should be remembered, has the potential to produce larger returns on investment.


  • Taxes


When you redeem the units of your index fund investment, you make capital gains that are taxed. The holding period, or length of time you remain invested, determines the taxes rate. Gains made with a holding duration of up to one year are classified as short-term capital gains (STCG) and are subject to a 15% tax (plus surcharge as applicable plus 4 percent Health & education cess). If the total long-term capital gains from equity-oriented mutual funds /equity shares exceed Rs. 1,00,000 in a year, the long-term capital gains (LTCG) from funds held for more than 12 months incur long-term capital gains tax at 10% (with surcharge as applicable + 4% Health & education cess).


  • Investment Time Frame


Index funds are subject to large changes quickly. If these variations persist for a long time, they might even out the returns on your investment. Therefore, index funds are the best choice for investors with a lengthy time horizon. If you decide to invest in index funds, you must have the patience to wait for the fund to reach its full performance potential.


How To Diversify With An Index Fund?


TheSensex and the Nifty 50 are two indexes that are used to track the overall stock market. You can, however, also invest in funds that follow specific industries, such as those in the energy, technology, banking, consumer goods, and so forth. Any industry you can think of has an index for it, and a fund that tracks that index has also been formed. An investor can purchase a fund that tracks a sector they believe will beat the overall market while remaining diversified within that industry.


This suggests an additional method for diversifying with index funds. Additionally, you can be diversified if you invest in a variety of sector funds. In other words, odds are that another index fund will perform well if your oil fund doesn’t. Therefore, you are diversified not only within each area, but also through investing money in many sectors.


Make sure you are aware of the investments made by each fund to avoid having duplicate assets. A purchase of an oil fund, for instance, would undoubtedly replicate some of the securities in an energy fund.




  • Are Index Funds Good For Diversification ?


Index fund have historically proven to be an extremely effective investment tool, they ensures that each penny of yours is invested in a diverse basket of stocks/securities. Given the minimal human intervention they are free from biases too. 


  • How many index funds do you need for a diversified portfolio ?


Even investing in a single index fund can provide you with relevant diversification. 


  • Do I need to diversify beyond index funds?


Index funds invest in the stock market, it is advisable to invest a certain portion of your investment budget in non market linked investments too such as fixed deposits, gold. 


Did you know? You can now invest in arbitrage funds on Kuvera:


Step 1: Download the Kuvera app or visit our website. 


Step 2: Create your account on Kuvera by completing the mandatory KYC procedure. This will hardly take a few minutes. Once that’s completed,  select the ‘Invest’ option on our homepage after which you can select ‘Mutual Funds’ and ‘Index’.


Step 3: Kindly go through the list of all zero-commission direct plans of index funds to start investing. 


Interested in how we think about the markets?

Read more: Zen And The Art Of Investing

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