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Friday, December 18, 2015

Multi-Manager Fund

Multi-Manager Fund - Invest Online

Though such funds offer convenience, the costs involved are high.
Tata Mutual Fund recently launched several new equity funds under an an umbrella theme--`Own a piece of In dia'. It's a basket of six thematic and sector-oriented funds (including an existing one) through which investors can participate in India's growth story. The scheme follows a multi-manager approach with a lead manager at the helm, supported by co-managers. While this may not be a strictly multi-manager fund, there are a handful of such funds on offer. Let us examine whether investors really benefit by tapping the skills of multiple fund managers under one roof.

A matter of convenience

A multi-manager fund invests in a select set of schemes instead of putting the money directly in stocks. While most, like Tata Mutual Fund's offering, invest in schemes within the same fund house, others invest across schemes of different fund houses. Some invest purely in equity funds while some invest across asset classes. The performance of the scheme is directly linked to that of the underlying funds in the portfolio. The tangible benefit of taking this route is that one can apply for multiple schemes under a single application with a single cheque. There is no need to fill up multiple forms to invest separately in each scheme. Investors are allocated one folio for investments in all underlying funds. It also takes away the pain of tracking your investment through multiple account statements.

Besides, it eliminates the need to decide where to invest as the fund house itself picks a basket of funds. This makes sense for first-time buyers, who do not have the time or knowledge to research and pick the right schemes or identify the best asset mix. The multi-manager approach taps the expertise of multiple individuals. Investors benefit from the combined experience of several people, minimising the dependence on a single money manager.


Multi-manager funds are fund of funds, and more expensive than traditional mutual funds. This is because they have a dual layer of costs--expenses levied by the underlying funds, in addition to the expense charged by the parent fund. The overall expense ratio, however, cannot exceed a Sebi-imposed cap. Investors must realise a higher expense ratio eats into the fund's overall returns. More importantly, from a taxation perspective, these funds do not get the same benefits as equity funds. Even if most of these are purely equity-based, they are treated as non-equity funds for the purpose of taxation. "These funds are highly tax-inefficient," says Arun Gopalan, VP­Research, Systematix Shares & Stocks. Investors do not get exemption on capital gains incurred after a year. Instead, you are allowed indexation benefits after three years, wherein gains are taxed at 20% after adjusting the principal for inflation during the tenure of the investment. If the gain is realised within three years of investment, it is added to the individual's income and taxed at the applicable slab rate. Investors must note that fund selection, and in some cases, asset allocation, is out of their hands under multi-manager funds. This limits the ability to invest in funds that are suited to your own risk profile. Tanwir Alam, Founder, Fincart, adds that there is no merit in multi-manager funds investing within the same fund house. "A true multi-manager approach is one which provides exposure to different investment styles apart from asset classes. Otherwise, it is nothing more than just a hybrid fund."

What should you do

While the `Own a piece of India' scheme offers exposure to different sectors or themes like Digital India, consumption, pharma and healthcare, banking and financial services, energy and infrastructure, the same can be achieved with a good diversified equity fund. There are enough funds with proven track records which offer investors similar broadbased participation in the India growth story, at a lesser cost.

Unlike other multi-manager schemes, Tata MF's offering allows investors to pick and choose from the available schemes in its basket. However, this customisation is good only if you have enough understanding of sector dynamics to take a call. Also, unlike others in this category, investors may incur tax and exit load in case they switch between schemes in the fund basket. The good part is that it will allow investors to exit any of the underlying funds if it is underperforming. Since the underlying schemes are within the same fund house, the benefit of investing across fund managers is diluted to some extent.A true multi-manager approach can be best tapped through a zero brand-bias offering, asserts Gopalan. Even then, he maintains that the ideal approach is to "Create your own portfolio of traditional funds by picking from the best-of-breed funds across different AMCs with the help of an adviser

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