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28 FEBRUARY, 2023
Active investors have seen significant churn in their portfolios over the course of the last 12 months, with focus shifting from minimising impact of the downturn to maximising returns as the markets return to pre-COVID levels. As active investors have seen the growth opportunities and taken advantage of these, it is also time to lock in some of the capital gains made in order to hedge them against future uncertainty in the markets. Moving your gains to a separate part of the portfolio that offers some upside from continued rise in stock markets while hedging against losses can be done using Balanced Advantage Funds (BAFs).
While looking to increase returns without significantly increasing risk, a number of options within Mutual Funds can be explored. However, a fund that can leverage the potential returns of a derivative, while being invested in Equity and Debt is a product that could offer multiple benefits from each of the asset classes. This category of funds is broadly classified as Balanced Advantage Fund (BAF).
Structure of a Balanced Advantage Fund (BAF)
SEBI created the category of BAFs as funds that are investing in a combination of equity, derivatives and debt. However, the classification does not put restrictions on the respective percentage of each category of investments, and therefore the fund allocation can vary from one fund to another. The funds maintain a minimum 65 per cent allocation in equity or equity derivatives, while allocating the rest to debt instruments. In this respect, they are aligned with equity based Mutual Funds, while giving investors a possibility of secured returns by using derivatives to lock in profit.
Since the fund allocation is flexible, it allows the funds to organise and manage fund allocation to different assets based on the current outlook of the market. Most funds have an equity exposure which is countered through stock or index options, designed to mitigate the downside risk of market volatility. Essentially, higher the hedged portion of the equity, the lower would be the risk. In short, the risk varies in direct proportion to the un-hedged portion of the equity portfolio of the fund. Different funds follow different strategies and therefore there can be variations in the returns of various funds within the category. To get an understanding of the fund, it is recommended that investors review the fund allocation to see if it fits the profile that they are looking for. Such funds are suitable for investors who are not sure how to balance between Equity & Debt. Further such funds are also a good addition to investors who would want to move their portfolio swiftly between Equity & Debt depending on market circumstances.
Some investors who may not have experienced BAFs, tend to equate them with the earlier balanced funds which had a mix of Debt and Equity in specific proportions, and which are today known as hybrid aggressive funds. However, BAFs fall within a separate sub-category under hybrid funds, since their asset allocation varies over short-term as compared to the hybrid aggressive funds whose allocation remain fairly steady over the mid-to-long term.
What makes BAFs attractive?
Most active investors have a portfolio of 20-30 companies based on their own research, preferences, knowledge of the markets and underlying fundamentals. However, no individual investor can map gains or losses that can impact a single company in the present situation of uncertainty. While direct equity investments and derivatives offer great potential upside, the risk can be equally high in volatile markets. Ideally, a smart investor will look to periodically move gains from higher risk investments to lower risk ones so as to secure the profits on a periodic basis. Therefore, a potential rewarding strategy for active investors might be to convert some of the short-term gains achieved in equities or equity-based Mutual Funds into BAFs, so as to secure the profits.
The advantages of BAFs include the following:
Therefore, over a short to medium period of time, BAFs manage the volatility of the market better than an equity fund and provide better returns than debt funds, while retaining growth. In the long term, equity funds outperform BAFs, but with the attendant risks associated with any equity investment.
Since the Equity component is atleast 65%, these funds are taxed as per the prevailing rules for equity based funds. Dividends from these funds are also taxed as per existing rules for Equity based funds.
While allowing for a higher return, BAFs also help to hedge a portion of the risk associated with market volatility by covering Equity holdings through future derivatives and moving funds to Debt when markets are showing downward trends. For this reason, BAFs span the space between saving deposits and aggressive Equity funds and should be considered as an intermediate category of investments for retail investors for the medium term.
To select a suitable BAF, look for the following aspects:
Some of the Balance Advantage Funds which have shown stable returns are:
AUM (in ₹ crs)
Edelweiss Balanced Advantage Fund - Growth
ICICI Prudential Balanced Advantage Fund - Reg - Growth
Kotak Balanced Advantage Fund - Reg - Growth
Mirae Asset Balanced Advantage Fund - Reg - Growth
SBI Balanced Advantage Fund - Reg - Growth
WhiteOak Capital Balanced Advantage Fund - Reg - Growth
NIFTY 50 Hybrid Composite Debt 65:35 Index
Data as on Feb 28, 2023 | Source: MFI explorer
To know more about the various BAF options available, please check out our investments section, or get in touch with your Relationship Manager.
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Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.
Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited, AMFI Registered Mutual Fund Distributor. AMFI Registration Number (ARN) 1390.
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