5 Reasons why Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is the better, safer approach

29 Jun



When it comes to investments and personal finance management, there are a number of options available in India. Based on your risk profile, risk appetite and liquidity requirements there are options like fixed or term deposits, postal deposits, recurring deposits, mutual funds, equities, gold investments, properties, bonds, commodity trading etc.

As for the equity market linked investment opportunities, open-ended mutual funds are probably one of the easiest to pick and dispose (liquidity). Though, investing in mutual funds still has stock market linked risks, you are allowing your fund manager and fund house (e.g. HDFC, Reliance Capital, SBI etc) to manage and reduce that risk for you.

Investing in mutual funds through SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) for longer term will reduce these market linked risks further. Just in case you do not know what a SIP is, here’s the definition:

SIP is a method of investing regularly in a mutual fund. It’s very similar to a recurring deposit whereby the investment amount is the same for each deposit, but you get a varying number of mutual fund units based on the current market price of the particular fund.

For example, when you open a SIP with Reliance Growth Fund for 2 years with a monthly recurring deposit of say Rs.1000/-, the amount that you invest per month is always fixed. But for a particular month, the Reliance Growth Fund’s market price (called NAV or Net Asset Value) may be Rs. 450 and some other month it may be Rs. 250 based on the equity market fluctuations. Hence, the number of units that you receive per month also varies. For example, when the mutual fund NAV is 450/- you get only 2.22 units for your thousand rupees where as when the NAV is 250/- you get 4 units (1000 / 250 = 4).

In other words, when the mutual fund NAVs are cheaper, you are getting more units and hence you average out your prices. e.g. based on the above two transactions for two months you are getting 6.22 units for 2000 rupees or your per unit cost is 2000 / 6.22 = ~321.54

My current Mutual Funds Portfolio

The following is my actual mutual fund portfolio as of June 28, 2010. I am not specifying the number of units or amount invested.

Fund name Investment Date Overall Gain
Reliance Growth Fund 22.02.2007 (SIP) 65.67%
HDFC Tax Saver Fund 15.01.2007 (SIP) 47.44%
Reliance Vision Fund 15.01.2007 (SIP) 27.44%
HDFC Equity Fund 08.08.2007 44.19%
SBI Magnum Global Fund 08.06.2007 16.43%
Franklin Prima Plus Fund 07.09.2007 5.65%
DSP Blackrock Focus 25 Fund 14.05.2010 3.08%


Off the above, the first three were done on Systematic Investment Plan with monthly contributions for at least 24 consecutive months. You will notice that despite, the Sensex hitting 21,000 in December 2007 and correcting big time all the way to 8000 two years back, the funds invested via SIP are still returning a handsome positive figure. On the other hand the other funds which I invested also in 2007, returned digit figures the only exception being the HDFC Equity Fund which was like a fluke when it comes to timing.

The moral of the story is that SIPs for long term always return well.

Advantages of SIP

The following are some of the major advantages of investing via Systematic Investment Plans.

#1 You don’t need to time the market

One of the key problems of investing in equities (or even mutual funds other than the SIP route) is that unless you time the market, you are in trouble. In the case of SIPs you don’t have that issue – Just keep a fixed amount per month (or biweekly) fixed via the SIP route for long term and the rest is taken care of. When the market is down you get more units and when the price is high you automatically buy smaller amounts.

#2 It’s not a crime, if you miss one SIP installment

Unlike your bank loan EMIs, nobody will come after you with legal notice even if you miss one SIP installment due to lack of funds or you just forgot it. However, in order to make the best out of SIPs, you should have the disciplined approach of investing at the predetermined frequency without fail.

#3 Highly liquid and you can terminate any time

If you are investing in open ended mutual funds, you can terminate your investment at any point of time and get your deposited money in the bank within two business days. Unlike fixed deposits, there is no penalty for terminating a SIP earlier. Please note that tax saver funds usually have a lock in period of three years. This is not specific to SIP but about the nature of the tax free funds.

#4 Relatively low risk

Investing via SIPs offer reduced risk exposure to the stock markets as compared to putting money in bulk via funds or stocks. Basically, in long term you do the risk leveling without even you knowing about it and there is a automatic cushioning against the volatility of the stock market.

#5 No special fees

Investing in SIPs do not need any special fees per month or at the time of opening. The entry load of the underlying instrument (i.e. the fund), if applicable, will be the only charges.

Summary

I hope you got some ideas about the Systematic Investment Plan. Sorry, if you already knew it but this post was mainly meant for the newbies in personal finance. I shall talk about another investment mechanism – the Systematic Withdrawal Plan – in yet another post.

Start your SIP today because any day is a good day for SIP…

Happy Investing!

PS: It is highly advised to pick only the best and stable funds for SIP investment from well known fund houses such as HDFC Asset Management and Reliance Capital. Also, it’s not a good idea to enter SIPs on new fund offers (NFOs). There are a number of funds with proven track record of 5-10 years to choose from.

9 Responses to “5 Reasons why Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is the better, safer approach”

  1. fahed ahmad khan 24. Sep, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Sir,
    casn you plzz tell me how can we judge that we need to offload our sip in any fund house??

  2. fahed ahmad khan 24. Sep, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Dear Sir,

    I have invested in mutual fund for saving purpose for 5 years span through SIP route in 5 funds, 2000 per month in each fund,which are as below
    1.HDFC equity- growth
    2.HDFC top 200- growth
    3.UTI dividend yield fund- growth
    4.Reliance growth- growth
    5.Franklin india flexi cap- growth
    Can you plz tell me Is my portfolio is well diversified ?
    I think to stop investting in Franklin india flexi cap and start investting in DSPBR top 100 equity. Will it be right or not??
    PLZZ do reply at my e-id fahed_akhan@rediffmail.com
    I will be thankful to you.
    Regards

  3. Ajith 24. Sep, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    @fahed,
    I am not an investment expert nor a financial adviser. However, when I look at those five funds you have I must say that you have done a lot of homework while picking them. HDFC Equity/Top 200 and Reliance Growth are the bets in their class owing to great fund managers. UTI is turning around a bit and you could try keeping it. I have a MF accounts manager friend UTI and he says that they are doing great now. As for Franklin, I do not like their funds much – probably because I had a lot of mid cap funds that were not performing.

    DSPBR (both top 200 and top 25) should be good funds for SIP, I believe.

    As for diversification, you are heavily equity oriented and that’s always a risk. However, if you are in a younger age group (< 35) and your intention is long term, I do not see a problem here. Good luck! Disclaimer: This is only my personal view and do not consider it as an expert advice. It’s your money and your responsibility to manage it and invest wisely.

  4. Soumya 28. May, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Systematic investment plan is one and major way to create wealth. Equity investment is main for wealth creation. And SIP is a vehicle for this. Here you don’t have to time the market and have an advantage of rupee cost averaging.

  5. Jane 24. Jul, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Ajit,

    This seems to be an old post but still I would like to ask a basic question as i am new to investing.

    Even if we invest through SIP, it is MF and always linked to market. Hence no guaranteed returns. Isn’t it?

    This may be a broad question but I would like to know- how to ensure i am investing in some MF which is going to be profitable? Is MF are for risk takers only i am a low to medium risk taker i feel i should stick with something which gives guaranteed returns.

    Thank You,
    Jane

    • Ajith Prasad Edassery 24. Jul, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Jane,
      ‘Equity based’ mutual funds are linked to the stock markets and hence there’s definitely an inherent risk. However, if you pick funds managed by good Fund Managers (e.g. Prashant Jain of HDFC), in the long run, SIPs will definitely make money. This is because, the market Index cannot go to zero in a practical sense :) Even if there’s a downtime, it’s likely to be corrected at some point and further during downtime, you are accumulating more units via SIP. By the way, there’s no point in having SIPs for 3 or 6 months but go long on them (e.g. Minimum of 2-3 years or even 5 years)

      If you have a low-to-medium risk profile, you need to invest in debt funds or balanced funds. Regardless of the category of Mutual Funds, you need to pick funds by good fund managers.

      Best regards,
      Ajith

      • Jane 24. Jul, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        Thank You Ajith for your kind reply.

        It was insightful, for the first i came across investing in funds by good fund managers . I think debt based mutual funds are for me.

        Even in equity i’ll look for long term investment.

        Thank You,
        Norma

  6. Bhagwan Murthy 17. Oct, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    What is meant by “risk” in SIP? The maximum risk is that we get no “return”. Our principal is always safe, is it not? Or can it evaporate?

    • Ajith Prasad Edassery 17. Oct, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      When you invest in equity linked schemes there’s a chance of losing your principal as well. But when you pick a good mutual fund scheme for long term investment, it’s mostly gain – that’s how equities work, think long term.

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