You should not solely rely on performance rating by third party websites and mutual fund returns for the last year to assess the best possible mutual fund for you. This is because performance keep changing every year. The top performers of today may not be on the list next year. When making a mutual fund comparison, there are specific performance indicators that you need to look out for. Let’s evaluate them here in detail.
- Look at returns beyond 1 year: You need to evaluate the mutual fund performance over 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and 7-year performance. A reasonable yardstick is the mutual fund performance over the last 5 years.
- Mutual fund performance comparison against benchmark: You can start by making a mutual fund performance comparison against the benchmark. When you compare, you need to evaluate the period of consistency during different market cycles against the benchmark. This will help you assess whether the mutual fund has outperformed or underperformed the benchmark.
- Risk-reward tradeoff: You need to understand how effective is the mutual fund in offering risk-adjusted returns. As per risk-return tradeoff, if you take a higher degree of risk, it should be compensated by a greater level of returns. For instance, small-cap funds more significant downside risk, but it also has the potential for high returns. The risk is measured with the help of specific mutual fund performance indicators such as standard deviation and Sharpe ratio. Standard deviation is how much the mutual fund performance deviates from the benchmark. The greater the standard deviation, greater is the inherent volatility. Sharpe ratio is the return per unit of risk. In other words, it evaluates the risk-adjusted returns. Look for a fund with a higher Sharpe ratio to earn a better risk-adjusted return.
- Compare Average Maturity and Duration: While evaluating debt funds, the average maturity and duration of the fund should match your investment duration. The Average maturity relates to the period after which the underlying securities will mature. A short-duration debt fund has lower interest rate sensitivity than longer-duration funds. You can use Macaulay Durations and Modified duration to evaluate the risk of investing in debt funds. Macaulay Duration indicates the time it takes for the price of the underlying bond in the debt fund to be repaid through its internal cash flows. Modified duration indicates how much the NAV of a debt fund would change if interest rates move by 1%.
- Compare Fund’s cyclical performance: Evaluate how effective is the fund manager in outperforming the benchmark across different market cycles. A good mutual fund performance indicator is the Alpha. Alpha measures the return over the benchmark index. When making a mutual fund performance comparison, a fund that generates alpha indicates a well managed fund.
You can use the above mentioned mutual fund performance indicators to help you compare two mutual funds and make a decision. It would help if you considered your financial goal and risk profile carefully in this exercise.
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