Saving is a stage on the way to investing. You cannot be an investor without being a saver but you can be a saver without being an investor. Savings are effectively cash or cash instruments, such as deposit account, term bonds etc. Investing is what you do with the savings you have created if you are looking to generate a return on your money that is greater than what is already available to you through your savings instruments.

There is really no such thing as 100% safe saving scheme or investment scheme. If anybody tells you different, dont believe them! Not even government-backed bonds are 100% safe.For that matter, ask anybody who had money invested in various Latin America debt instruments in the 1970s and 1980s. Even governments can go out of business!

Supply and demand on the secondary market determines the futures price. On dates prior to 31 Dec 2000, the ''Nifty futures expiring on 31 Dec 2000'' trade at a price that purely reflect supply and demand. There is a separate order book for each futures product which generates its own price. Economic arguments give us a clear idea about what the price of a futures should be. If the secondary market prices deviate from these values, it would imply the presence of arbitrage opportunities, which (we might expect) would be swiftly exploited. But there is nothing innate in the market which forces the theoretical prices to come about.

Yes, it does. If a brokerage firm goes bankrupt with net obligations of Rs.1 billion, the clearing corporation has a legal obligation of Rs.1 billion. The clearing corporation is legally obliged to either meet these obligations, or go bankrupt itself. There is no third alternative. There is no committee that meets to decide whether the settlement fund can be utilised; there are no escape clauses. It is important to emphasise that when L buys from S, at a legal level, L has bought from the clearing corporation and the clearing corporation has bought from S. Whether S lives up to his obligations or not, the clearing corporation is the counterparty to L. There is no escape clause which can be invoked by the clearing corporation if S defaults.

The futures clearing corporation has to build a sophisticated risk containment system in order to survive. Two key elements of the risk containment system are the ''mark to market margin'' and ''initial margin''. These involve taking collateral from traders in such a way as to greatly diminish the incentives for traders to default. Electronic trading has generated a need for online, realtime risk monitoring. In India, trading takes place swiftly and funds move through the banking system slowly. Hence the only meaningful notion of initial margin is one that is paid upfront. This leads to the notion of brokerage firms placing collateral, and obtaining limits upon the risk of their position as a function of the amount of collateral with the clearing corporation.

In large part, yes; the more attractive the potential rate of return on offer, the bigger the risk to the capital that you invest. That applies across the whole spectrum of savings and investing vehicles, from deposit accounts to shares. How much you should invest and what you invest it in will depend on three key factors: your attitude to risk; the level of return you want to achieve; and how long you are prepared to invest your money.

If you are, for example, close to retirement you wont want to take too many risks with your money. On the other hand, if you have few commitments and are several years away from retiring, you may be prepared to take a punt and invest in something with a high risk in the hope of getting a high return. If you want to aim for a higher level of return but still with a relatively low risk element, then you should be prepared to tie your funds up for some time. Most forms of investment offer greater potential returns for those prepared to invest for the long-term, although this isn't guaranteed.

Broadly speaking, we may place most forms of savings and investments into a risk spectrum with derivatives at the speculative end and Gilts and National Savings & Investments at the very low risk end.

The answer to this question is a definite yes. It has been seen that over the years there has been no financial instrument which has given returns as high as the stock markets. The only important factor to be kept in mind is that investment should always be made with an objective in mind and we should not be too greedy while investing. On the other hand ,as inflation has fallen over the last couple of decades so have the returns available from basic savings accounts. In fact, many instant access accounts no longer keep pace with inflation at all. Leaving your money in such an account now actually means it is falling in value!

Review your financial position fortnightly. Are you making the best of the money you save and invest? Re-evaluate your portfolio. Are your short-term investment giving you the desired rate of return or are you trapped by buying the stock at its peak? Book losses on these shares and try to invest in shares where you can make up for the losses.

In case of long term investment track news on the stocks regularly. If there is a change in business environment, management or future profitability the valuation of stocks will change accordingly, and hence the target price will also change.

Take a long careful look at how your existing savings and investments are performing. Are you happy that you are getting the best possible return from them? Do they fit in with your current "risk profile" - should you, if you are getting closer to retirement, be thinking about reducing the level of risk in your portfolio of investments or should you actually be thinking about taking a few more risks if you have plenty of time in which to build up an investment.

In finance, a security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes. Most derivatives are characterized by high leverage.

Although it is true that complicated mathematical models are used for pricing some derivatives, the basic concepts and principles underpinning derivatives and their trading are quite easy to grasp and understand. Indeed, derivatives are used increasingly by market players ranging from governments, corporate treasurers, dealers and brokers and individual investors.

While forward contracts and exchange traded in futures has grown by leaps and bound, Indian stock markets have been largely slow to these global changes. However, in the last few years, there has been substantial improvement in the functioning of the securities market. Requirements of adequate capitalization for market intermediaries, margining and establishment of clearing corporations have reduced market and credit risks. However, there were inadequate advanced risk management tools. And after the ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) meltdown the market regulator felt that in order to deepen and strengthen the cash market trading of derivatives like futures and options was imperative.

Derivatives have become very important in the field finance. They are very important financial instruments for risk management as they allow risks to be separated and traded. Derivatives are used to shift risk and act as a form of insurance. This shift of risk means that each party involved in the contract should be able to identify all the risks involved before the contract is agreed. It is also important to remember that derivatives are derived from an underlying asset. This means that risks in trading derivatives may change depending on what happens to the underlying asset.

A simple forward-based contract obligates one party to buy and the other party to sell a financial instrument, a currency, equity or a commodity at a future date. Examples of forward-based contracts include forward contracts, futures contracts, forward rate agreements and swap transactions.

Futures contract is a financial contract obligating the buyer to purchase an asset (or the seller to sell an asset), such as a physical commodity or a financial instrument, at a predetermined future date and price. Futures contracts detail the quality and quantity of the underlying asset; they are standardized to facilitate trading on a futures exchange. Some futures contracts may call for physical delivery of the asset, while others are settled in cash. The futures markets are characterized by the ability to use very high leverage relative to stock markets.

The right to purchase the underlying futures contract if the option is a call or the right to sell the underlying futures contract if the option is a put.

A call option conveys to the option buyer the right to purchase a particular futures contract at a stated price at any time during the life of the option.

A put option conveys to the option buyer the right to sell a particular futures contract at a stated price at any time during the life of the option.

Strike Price also known as the “exercise price,” this is the stated price at which the buyer of a call has the right to purchase a specific futures contract or at which the buyer of a put has the right to sell a specific futures contract.

The option buyer is the person who acquires the rights conveyed by the

The option seller (also known as the option writer or option grantor) is the party that conveys the option rights to the option buyer.

In a spot market, transactions are settled ''on the spot''. Once a trade is agreed upon, the settlement - i.e. the actual exchange of money for goods - takes place with the minimum possible delay. When a person selects a shirt in a shop and agrees on a price, the settlement (exchange of funds for goods) takes place immediately. That is a spot market.

In a forward contract, two parties irrevocably agree to settle a trade at a future date, for a stated price and quantity. No money changes hands at the time the trade is agreed upon. Suppose a buyer L and a seller S agree to do a trade in 100 grams of gold on 31 Dec 2001 at Rs.5,000/tola. Here, Rs.5,000/tola is the "forward price of 31 Dec 2001 Gold''. The buyer L is said to be long and the seller S is said to be short. Once the contract has been entered into, L is obligated to pay S Rs. 500,000 on 31 Dec 2001, and take delivery of 100 tolas of gold. Similarly, S is obligated to be ready to accept Rs.500,000 on 31 Dec 2001, and give 100 tolas of gold in exchange.

Derivatives which trade on an exchange are called "exchange-traded derivatives''. Trades on an exchange generally take place with anonymity. Trades at an exchange generally go through the clearing corporation.

A derivative contract which is privately negotiated is called an OTC derivative. OTC trades have no anonymity, and they generally do not go through a clearing corporation. Every derivative product can either trade OTC (i.e., through private negotiation), or on an exchange. In one specific case, the jargon demarcates this clearly: OTC futures contracts are called "forwards'' (or, exchange-traded forwards are called "futures''). In other cases, there is no such distinguishing notation. There are "exchange-traded options'' as opposed to "OTC options''; but they are both called options.

No. Badla is a mechanism to avoid the discipline of a spot market; to do trades on the spot market but not actually do settlement. The "carryforward'' activities are mixed together with the spot market. A well functioning spot market has no possibility of carryforward. Derivatives trades take place distinctly from the spot market. The spot price is separately observed from the derivative price. A modern financial system consists of a spot market which is a genuine spot market, and a derivatives market which is separate from the spot market.

Forward contracting is valuable in hedging and speculation. The classic hedging application is that of a wheat farmer forward-selling his harvest, at the time of sowing, in order to eliminate price risk. Conversely, a bread factory could buy wheat forward in order to assist production planning without the risk of price fluctuations. If a speculator has information or analysis which forecasts an upturn in a price, then she can adopt a buy position (go long) on the forward market instead of the cash market. The speculator would wait for the price to rise, and then close out the position on the forward market (by selling off the forward contracts). This is a good alternative to speculation using the spot market, which involves buying wheat, storing it for a while, and then selling it off. A speculator prefers transactions involving a forward market because

1) the costs of taking or making delivery of wheat is avoided, and

2) funds are not blocked for the purpose of speculation.

Suppose a user of a forward market adopts a position worth Rs.100. As mentioned above, no money changes hands at the time the deal is signed. In practice, a good-faith deposit would be needed. Suppose the user puts up Rs.5 of collateral. Using Rs.5 of capital, a position of Rs.100 is taken. In this case, we say there is ''leverage of 20 times''. This example involves a forward market. More generally, all derivatives involve leverage. Leverage makes derivatives useful; leverage is also the source of a host of disasters, payments crises, and systemic risk on financial markets. Understanding and controlling leverage is equivalent to understanding and controlling derivatives.

Forward markets tend to be afflicted by poor liquidity and from unreliability deriving from ''counterparty risk'' (also called ''credit risk'').

One basic problem of forward markets is that of too much flexibility and generality. The forward market is like the real estate market in that any two consenting adults can form custom-designed contracts against each other. This often makes them design terms of the deal which are very convenient in that specific situation; this can make the contracts non-tradeable since others might not find those specific terms useful. In addition, forward markets are like the real estate market in that buyers and sellers find each other using telephones. This is inefficient and time-consuming. Every user faces the risk of not trading at the best price available in the country. Forward markets often turn into small clubs of dealers who earn elevated intermediation fees. This elevates the fees paid by users, i.e. it makes the forward market illiquid from the user perspective.

A forward contract is a bilateral relationship between two people. Each requires good behaviour on the part of the other for the contract to perform as promised. Suppose L agrees to buy gold from S at a future date T at a (forward) price of Rs.5,000/tola. If, on date T, the gold spot price is at Rs.4,000/tola, then L loses Rs.1,000/tola and S gains Rs.1,000/tola by living up to the terms of the contract. When L buys at Rs.5,000/tola by the terms of the contract, he is paying Rs.1,000 more than what could be obtained on the spot market at the same time. Hence, L is tempted to declare bankruptcy and avoid performing as per the contract. Conversely, if on date T the gold spot price is at Rs.6,000/tola, then L gains and S loses by living up to the terms of the contract. S stands to sell gold at Rs.5,000/tola by the terms of the contract, which is Rs.1,000/tola worse than what could be obtained by selling into the spot market at date T. In this case, S is tempted to declare bankruptcy and avoid performing as per the contract. In either case, this leads to counterparty risk. When one of the two sides of the transaction chooses to declare bankruptcy, the other suffers. Forward markets have one basic property: the larger the time period over which the forward contract is open, the larger are the potential price movements, and hence the larger is the counterparty risk

A market where counterparty risk is present generally collapses into a small club of participants, who have homogeneous credit risk, and who have formed social and cultural methods for handling bankruptcies. Club markets do not allow for free entry into intermediation. They support elevated intermediation fees for club members, have fewer market participants, and result in reduced liquidity. Sometimes, regulators who are afraid of payments crises forcibly shut out large numbers of participants from an OTC derivatives market. This automatically generates a club market, and yields a fraction of the liquidity which could come about if participation could be enlarged

A market has price-time priority if it gives a guarantee that every order will be matched against the best available price in the country, and that if two orders are equal in price, the one which came first will be matched first. Forward markets, which involve dealers talking to each other on phone, do not have price-time priority. Floor-based trading with open-outcry does not have price-time priority. Electronic exchanges with order matching, or markets with a monopoly market maker, have price-time priority. On markets without price-time priority, users suffer greater search costs, and there is a greater risk of fraud.

Futures markets feature a series of innovations in how trading is organised:

1) Futures contracts trade at an exchange with price-time priority. All buyers and sellers come to one exchange. This reduces search costs and improves liquidity. This harnesses the gains that are commonly obtained in going from a non-transparent club market (based on telephones) to an anonymous, electronic exchange which is open to participation. The anonymity of the exchange environment largely eliminates cartel formation.

2) Futures contracts are standardised - all buyers or sellers are constrained to only choose from a small list of tradeable contracts defined by the exchange. This avoids the illiquidity that goes along with the unlimited customisation of forward contracts.

3) A new credit enhancement institution, the clearing corporation, eliminates counterparty risk on futures markets. The clearing corporation interposes itself into every transaction, buying from the seller and selling to the buyer. This is called novation. This insulates each from the credit risk of the other. In futures markets, unlike in forward markets, increasing the time to expiration does not increase the counterparty risk. Novation at the clearing corporation makes it possible to have safe trading between strangers. This is what enables large-scale participation into the futures market - in contrast with small clubs which trade by telephone - and makes futures markets liquid.

The forward or futures contracts discussed so far involved physical settlement. On 31 Dec 2001, the seller was supposed to come up with 100 tolas of gold and the buyer was supposed to pay for it. In practice, settlement involves high transactions costs. This is particularly the case for products such as the equity index, or an inter-bank deposit, where effecting settlement is extremely difficult or impossible. In these cases, futures markets use ''cash settlement''. Here, the terminal value of the product is deemed to be equal to the price seen on the spot market. This is used to determine cash transfers from the counterparties of the futures contract. The cash transfer is treated as settlement. Example. Suppose L has purchased 30 units of Nifty from S at a price of 1500 on 31 Dec 2000. Suppose we come to the expiration date, i.e. 31 Dec 2000, and the Nifty spot is actually at 1600. In this case, L has made a profit of Rs.100 per Nifty and S has made a loss of Rs.100 per Nifty. A profit/loss of Rs.100 per nifty applied to a transaction of 30 nifties translates into a profit/loss of Rs.3,000. Hence, the clearing corporation organises a payment of Rs.3,000 from S and a payment of Rs.3,000 to L. This is called cash settlement. Cash settlement was an important advance, which extended the reach of derivatives into many products where physical settlement was unviable

India's "Cash Market'' for equity is ostensibly a cash market, but it functions like a futures markets in every respect. NSE's ''EQ'' market is a weekly futures market with tuesday expiration. The trading modalities on NSE from Wednesday to tuesday, in trading ITC, are exactly those that would be seen if a futures market was running on ITC with tuesday expiration. On NSE, when a person buys on thursday, he is not obligated to do delivery and payment right away, and this buy position can be reversed on friday thus leaving no net obligations. Equity trading on NSE involves leverage of seven times. Like all futures markets, trading at the NSE is centralised and there is no counterparty risk owing to novation at the clearing corporation (NSCC). The only difference between ITC trading on NSE, and ITC trading on a true futures market, is that futures contracts with several different expiration dates would all trade at the same time on a true futures market; this is absent on India's ''cash market''.

As with index futures, index options are cash settled. Suppose Nifty is at 1500 on 1 July 2000. Suppose L buys an option which gives him the right to buy Nifty at 1600 from S on 31 Dec 2000. It turns out that this option is worth roughly Rs.90. So a payment of Rs.90 passes from L to S for having this option. When 31 Dec 2000 arrives, if Nifty is below 1600, the option is worthless and lapses without exercise. Suppose Nifty is at 1650. Then (in principle) L can exercise the option, buy Nifty using the option at 1600, and sell off this Nifty on the open market at 1650. So L has a profit of Rs.50 and S has a loss of Rs.50. In this case, ``cash settlement'' consists of NSCC imposing a charge of Rs.50 upon S and paying it to L

The strike prices and expiration dates for traded options are selected by the exchange. For example, NSE may choose to have three expiration months, and five strike prices (1200,1300,1400,1500,1600). There would be two types of options: put and call. This gives a total of 30 distinct traded options ( 3 x 5 x 2), with 30 distinct order books and prices.

Options are different from futures in several interesting senses. At a practical level, the option buyer faces an interesting situation. He pays for the option in full at the time it is purchased. After this, he only has an upside. There is no possibility of the options position generating any further losses to him (other than the funds already paid for the option). This is different from a futures: which is free to enter into, but can generate very large losses. This characteristic makes options attractive to many occasional market participants, who cannot put in the time to closely monitor their futures positions. Buying put options is buying insurance. To buy a put option on Nifty is to buy insurance which reimburses the full extent to which Nifty drops below the strike price of the put option. This is attractive to many people, and to mutual funds creating ``guaranteed return products''. The Nifty index fund industry will find it very useful to make a bundle of a Nifty index fund and a Nifty put option to create a new kind of a Nifty index fund, which gives the investor protection against extreme drops in Nifty. Selling put options is selling insurance, so anyone who feels like earning revenues by selling insurance can set himself up to do so on the index options market. More generally, options offer ``nonlinear payoffs'' whereas futures only have ``linear payoffs''. By combining futures and options, a wide variety of innovative and useful payoff structures can be created.

In general, both futures and options trade on all underlyings abroad. Indeed, the international practice is to launch futures and options on a new underlying on the same day.

Supply and demand on the secondary market drives the option price. On dates prior to 31 Dec 2000, the ``call option on Nifty expiring on 31 Dec 2000 with a strike of 1500'' will trade at a price that purely reflects supply and demand. There is a separate order book for each option which generates its own price.

Trading on the ``spot market'' for equity has actually always been a futures market with weekly or fortnightly settlement. These futures markets feature the risks and difficulties of futures markets, without the gains in price discovery and hedging services that come with a separation of the spot market from the futures market. India's primary market has experience with derivatives of two kinds: convertible bonds and warrants (a slight variant of call options). Since these warrants are listed and traded, options markets of a limited sort already exist. However, the trading on these instruments is very limited. A variety of interesting derivatives markets exist in the informal sector. These markets trade contracts like bhav-bhav, teji-mandi, etc. For example, the bhav-bhav is a bundle of one in-the-money call option and one in-the-money put option. These informal markets stand outside the mainstream institutions of India's financial system and enjoy limited participation. In 1995, NSE asked SEBI whether it could trade index futures. In 2000, SEBI gave permissions to NSE and BSE to trade index futures. In addition, futures and options on Nifty will also trade at the Singapore Monetary Exchange (SIMEX) from end-August 2000.

The RBI has permitted OTC trades in interest rate forwards and swaps. These markets have so far had very little liquidity.

India has a strong dollar-rupee forward market with contracts being traded for one, two, .. six month expiration. Daily trading volume on this forward market is around $500 million a day. Indian users of hedging services are also allowed to buy derivatives involving other currencies on foreign markets. Outside India, there is a small market for cash-settled forward contracts on the dollar-rupee exchange rate.

The RBI setup a committee, headed by R. V. Gupta, which has established guidelines through which Indian users can obtain hedging services using derivatives exchanges outside India.

It is useful to note here that there are no exchange-traded financial derivatives in India today. Neither the dollar-rupee forward contract nor the option-like contracts are exchange-traded. These markets hence lack centralisation of price discovery and can suffer from counterparty risk. We do have exchanges trading derivatives, in the form of commodity futures exchanges. However, they do not use financials as underlyings. In this sense, the index futures market will be the first exchange-traded derivatives market, which uses a financial underlying.

Worldwide, the most successful equity derivatives contracts are index futures, followed by index options, followed by security options.

Internationally, options on individual stocks are commonplace; futures on individual stocks are rare. This is partly because regulators (e.g. in the US) frown upon the idea of doing futures trading on individual stocks.

Security options are of limited interest because the pool of people who would be interested (say) in options on ACC is limited. In contrast, every single person with any involvement in the equity market is affected by index fluctuations. Hence risk-management using index derivatives is of far more importance than risk-management using individual security options. This goes back to a basic principle of financial economics. Portfolio risk is dominated by the market index, regardless of the composition of the portfolio. All portfolios of around ten stocks or more have a pattern of risk where 70% or more of their risk is index-related. Hence investors are more interested in using index-based derivative products. Index derivatives also present fewer regulatory headaches when compared to leveraged trading on individual stocks. Internationally, this has led to regulatory encouragement for index futures and discouragement against futures on individual stocks.

In the cash market, the basic dynamic is that the issuer puts out paper, and people trade this paper. In contrast, with futures (as with all derivatives), there is no issuer, and hence, there is no fixed issue size. The net supply of all derivatives contracts is 0. For each buyer, there is an equal and opposite seller. A contract is born when a buyer and a seller meet on the market. The total number of contracts that exist at a point is called open interest.

On futures markets, open positions as of the expiration date are normally supposed to turn into delivery by the seller and payment by the buyer. It is not feasible to deliver the market index. Hence open positions are squared off in cash on the expiration date, with respect to the spot Nifty. Specifically, on the expiration date, the last mark to market margin is calculated with respect to the spot Nifty instead of the futures price.

Three Nifty futures contracts will trade at any point in time, expiring in three near months. The expiration date of each contract will be the last thursday of the month. For example, in January 1996 we will see three tradeable objects at the same time: a Nifty futures expiring on 25 January, a Nifty futures expiring on 29 February, and a Nifty futures expiring on 28 March. The three futures trade completely independently of each other. Each has a distinct price and a distinct limit order book. Hence, once this market trades, there would be four distinct prices that can be observed: the Nifty spot, and three Nifty futures prices.

The market lot is 200 nifties. A user will be able to buy 200 or 400 nifties, but not 300 nifties. If Nifty is at 1500, the smallest transaction will have a notional value of Rs.300,000.

The initial (upfront) margin on trading Nifty is likely to be around 7% to 8%. Thus, a position of Rs.300,000 (around 200 nifties) will require up-front collateral of Rs.21,000 to Rs.24,000. Nifty futures at SIMEX will probably involve a somewhat lower initial margin as compared with Nifty futures at NSE. Since the BSE Sensex is more volatile than Nifty, a higher initial margin will be required for trading it. The daily mark-to-market margin will be similar to that presently seen on the cash market, with two key differences: 7 As is presently the case, mark-to-market losses will have to be paid in by the trader to NSCC. However, mark-to-market profits will be paid out to traders by NSCC - this is not presently done on the cash market. 7 Hedged futures positions will attract lower margin - if a person has purchased 200 October nifties and sold 200 November nifties, he will attract much less than 7-8% margin. In the present cash market, all positions attract 15% initial (upfront) margin from NSCC, regardless of the extent to which they are hedged.

Individual stocks are more volatile, and more vulnerable to manipulative episodes such as short squeezes. Hence, highly leveraged trading on individual stocks is fraught with problems. In contrast, the index futures/options are cash settled, and are based on an underlying (the index) which is hard to manipulate.

As with all derivatives, there are:

speculators, hedgers and arbitrageurs

Speculators would make forecasts about movements in Nifty or movements in futures prices.

Hedgers would take buy or sell positions on Nifty futures in offsetting equity exposure that they have, which they consider undesirable.

Arbitrageurs lend or borrow money from the market, depending on whether rates of return are attractive.

Basis risk is the risk that users of the futures market suffer, owing to unwanted fluctuations of the basis. In the ideal futures market, the basis should reflect interest rates, and interest rates alone. In reality, the basis fluctuates within a band. These fluctuations reduce the usefulness of the futures market for hedgers and speculators.

The fair price of a derivative is the price at which profitable arbitrage is infeasible. In this sense, arbitrage (and arbitrage alone) determines the fair price of a derivative: this is the price at which there are no profitable arbitrage opportunities.

The pricing of index futures depends upon the spot index, the cost of carry, and expected dividends. For simplicity, suppose no dividends are expected, suppose the spot Nifty is at 1000 and suppose the one-month interest rate is 1.5%. Then the fair price of an index futures contract that expires in a month is 1015.

The difference between the spot and the futures price is called the basis. When a Nifty futures trades at 1015 and the spot Nifty is at 1000, ``the basis'' is said to be Rs.15 or 1.5%.

Basis risk is the risk that users of the futures market suffer, owing to unwanted fluctuations of the basis. In the ideal futures market, the basis should reflect interest rates, and interest rates alone. In reality, the basis fluctuates within a band. These fluctuations reduce the usefulness of the futures market for hedgers and speculators.

In practice, arbitrageurs will suffer transactions costs in doing Nifty program trades. The arbitrageur suffers one market impact cost in entering into a position on the Nifty spot, and another market impact cost when exiting. As a thumb rule, transactions of a million rupees suffer a one-way market impact cost of 0.1%, so the arbitrageur suffers a cost of 0.2% or so on the roundtrip. Hence, the actual return is lower than the apparent return by a factor of 0.2 percentage points or so.

The international experience is that in the first six months of a new index futures market, there are greater arbitrage opportunities that lie unexploited for relatively longer. After that, the increasing size and sophistication of the arbitrageurs ensures that arbitrage opportunities vanish very quickly. However, the international experience is that the glaring arbitrage opportunities only go away when extremely large amounts of capital are deployed into index arbitrage.

Arbitrage in the index futures market involves having the clearing corporation (NSCC) as the legal counterparty on both legs of the transaction. Hence the credit risk involved here will be equal to the credit risk of NSCC. This is in contrast with the risks of badla financing

A market index is just a portfolio of all the stocks in the index, where the weightage given to each stock is proportional to its market capitalisation. Hence ``buying Nifty'' is equivalent to buying all 50 stocks, in their correct proportions. To take one example, suppose Reliance has a 7.14% weight in Nifty, suppose the price of Reliance is Rs.108 and we are buying Rs.1 million of Nifty. This means that we need to buy 661 shares of Reliance.

These orders should not be placed ``by hand''. In the time that it would take to place 50 orders, market prices would move, generating execution risk. A rapid placement of a batch of orders is called program trading. NSE's NEAT software (which is used for trading on the cash market) supports this capability. However, even though NSE is a fully electronic market, the time taken in doing program trades is quite high (around two to three minutes to do a Nifty program trade). This compares poorly against stock exchanges elsewhere in the world.

Program trading replaces the tedium, errors, and delays of placing 50 orders ``by hand''. If program trading didn't exist, these orders would be placed manually. It's hard to see how this automation can be dangerous.

Several issues play a role in terms of the choice of index.

Diversification: A stock market index should be well-diversified, thus ensuring that hedgers or speculators are not vulnerable to individual company- or industry-risk. This di-versification is reflected in the Sharpe's Ratio of the index.

Liquidity of the index: The index should be easy to trade on the cash market. This is partly related to the choice of stocks in the index. High liquidity of index compo-nents implies that the information in the index is less noisy.

Liquidity of the market: Index traders have a strong incentive to trade on the market which supplies the prices used in index calculations. This market should feature high liquidity and be well designed in the sense of supplying operational conve-niences suited to the needs of index traders.

Operational issues: The index should be regularly maintained, with a steady evolution of securities in the index to keep pace with changes in the economy. The calculations involved in the index should be accurate and reliable. When a stock trades at mul-tiple venues, index computation should be done using prices from the most liquid market.

Nifty has a higher Sharpe's ratio. Nifty is a more liquid index. Nifty is calculated using prices from the most liquid market (NSE). NSE has designed features of the trading system to suit the needs of index traders. Nifty is better maintained. Nifty is used by three index funds while the BSE Sensex is used by one

At one level a market index is used as a pure economic time-series. Liquidity affects this application via the problem of non-trading. If some securities in an index fail to trade today, then the level of the market index obtained reflects the valuation of the macroeconomy today (via securities which traded today), but is contaminated with the valuation of the macroeconomy yesterday (via securities which traded yesterday). This is the problem of stale prices. By this reasoning, securities with a high trading intensity are best-suited for inclusion into a market index. As we go closer to applications of market indexes in the indexation industry (such as index funds, or sector-level active management, or index derivatives), the market index is not just an economic time-series, but a portfolio which is traded. The key difficulty faced here is again liquidity, or the transactions costs faced in buying or selling the entire index as a portfolio.

It turns out that it is efficient for arbitrageurs to trade Nifty in transaction sizes of Rs.1 million. At a transaction size of Rs.1 million, the one-way market impact cost in doing trades on Nifty is generally around 0.1%. This means that when Nifty is at 1000, the buyer ends up paying 1001 and the seller gets 999.

Dollar Nifty (Nifty re-expressed in dollars) is an interesting index, one that reflects the combination of movements of Nifty and fluctuations of the exchange rate. Nifty Junior is the second-tier of fifty large, liquid, stocks; they are the best stocks in terms of liquidity and market capitalisation which did not make it into Nifty. The construction of Nifty and Nifty junior is done in such a way that no stock will ever figure in both indexes.

The general principle is: you need hedging using index futures when your exposure to movements of Nifty is not what you would like it to be. If your index exposure is lower than what you like, you should buy index futures. If your index exposure is higher than what you like, you should sell index futures.

A person who has forecasted INFOSYSTCH is not interested in being a speculator on Nifty. He should remove this risk. This is done by selling Nifty futures. The position BUY INFOSYSTCH + SELL NIFTY FUTURES is a focussed position which is only about INFOSYSTCH. This is easily done in practice. Every speculative buy position should be coupled with an equal sell position on Nifty. Every speculative sell position should be coupled with an equal buy position on Nifty. Suppose you are long 100 shares of INFOSYSTCH and the share price is Rs.9,000, when the nearest Nifty futures is at Rs.1500. The position is worth Rs.900,000. Hedging away the Nifty exposure in this requires selling Rs.900,000 of Nifty. Translating this into a position on the index futures market, we have 900000/1500 = 600 nifties. So you would couple your position of ``buy 100 shares of Infosys'' with a hedging position: ``sell 600 nifties''. This hedging reduces the risk involved in stock speculation. It is good for the stock speculator (who faces less risk), for the brokerage firm (which faces a lesser risk of default by the client), for the clearing corporation (which faces less vulnerable brokerage firms) and for the economy (the systemic risk in the capital markets comes down, and level of resources deployed into analysing and forecasting stocks goes up).

Sometimes, the forecast horizon generates constraints. If you have a two-month view, then a futures contract that has only a few weeks of life left might be inconvenient. Another major issue is liquidity. Other things being equal, it is always better to use the contract with the tightest bid-ask spread.

You can sell Nifty futures. The Nifty futures earn a profit if Nifty drops, which offsets the losses you make on your core equity portfolio. Conversely, if Nifty rises, your core equity portfolio does well but the futures suffer a loss. When you have an equity portfolio and you sell Nifty futures, you are hedged: whether Nifty goes up or down, you become neutral to it. This is not a recipe for making money; it is a recipe for eliminating exposure (risk).

Every stock or portfolio or position has a number called ``beta''. Beta measures the vulnerability to the index. ITC has a beta of 1.2. This means that, on average, when Nifty rises by 1%, ITC rises by 1.2%. In this case, a stock speculator with a position of Rs.1 million on ITC requires a hedge of Rs.1.2 million (not just Rs.1 million) of Nifty in order to eliminate his Nifty risk. Hindustan Lever has a beta of 0.8. This means that a stock speculator who has a sell on Rs.1 million on HLL requires to buy Rs.0.8 million of Nifty (not Rs.1 million). If you know nothing about a stock or a portfolio, it is safe to guess that the beta is 1. The average beta of all stocks or all portfolios is 1. If beta can be observed or measured, then this hedging becomes more accurate; however, this is not easy since accurate beta calculations are fairly difficult, especially for illiquid stocks. Tables of betas of all stocks in Nifty and Nifty Junior are available from NSE and from

The basis between the spot Nifty and the 1 month Nifty futures reflects the interest rate over the coming month. If interest rates go up, the basis will widen. A buy position on the futures and a sell on the spot Nifty stands to gain if interest rates go up, while being immune to movements in Nifty. Similar positions can be used against the two-month and three-month futures to take views on other spot interest rates on the yield curve. Similar strategies can be applied for trading in forward interest rates, using the basis between the one-month and two-month futures, the one-month and three-month futures, etc.

Hedgers fear basis risk. Basis risk is about Nifty futures prices moving in a way which is not linked to the Nifty spot. An unhedged position suffers from price risk; the hedged position suffers from basis risk. Of course, basis risk is generally much smaller than price risk, so that it is better to hedge than not to hedge. However basis risk does detract from the usefulness of hedging using derivatives

A well designed index, and a well-designed cash market for equities, serve to minimise basis risk.

Nifty has higher hedging effectiveness for typical portfolios of all sizes. Nifty also requires lower initial margin (since it is less volatile) and is likely to enjoy lower basis risk (owing to the ease of arbitrage).

Buy a million rupees of Nifty on the spot market. Pay for them, and take delivery. When you make the payment, you are "giving a loan".

Simultaneously, sell off a million rupees of Nifty futures.

Hold these positions till the futures expiration date.

On the futures expiration date, sell off the Nifty shares on the spot market. When you get paid for these, you are "getting your loan repaid".

This is worth doing when the interest rate obtained by lending into the futures market is higher than that which can be obtained through alternative riskless lending avenues.

Suppose we are on 12 June 2000 (a Monday) and we have purchased the spot, and sold the near futures (which expires on 29 June 2000). We will only need to put up funds on Tuesday, 20 June 2000. The shares are sold on the spot market on 29 June 2000 (Thursday). These turn into funds on 11 July 2000 (Tuesday). Hence, the overall period for which funds are invested is from 20 June to 11 July, i.e. a holding period of 22 days. Hence, the cost of carry should be applied for a 22 day holding period.

They involve a sequence of trades on the spot and on the index futures market. Yet, they are completely riskless. The trader is simultaneously buying at the present and selling off in the future, or vice versa. Regardless of what happens to Nifty, the returns on arbitrage are the same. Since there is no risk involved, it is called arbitrage.

BSE has no experience with novation. Today, equity trading at BSE takes place without novation. BSE has experienced payments problems fairly recently.

The market impact cost in trading the BSE Sensex is higher, for two reasons: index construction and trading venue. Even if BSE Sensex trades were done on NSE, the impact cost faced in trading the BSE Sensex is higher than that of Nifty. In addition, arbitrageurs working on the BSE Sensex would be forced to trade at the less liquid market, the BSE. The BSE lacks a credit enhancement institution of the credibility of NSCC. These problems imply that arbitrageurs working on the BSE Sensex will demand a higher credit risk premium, and require larger pricing errors in order to compensate for the larger transactions costs. Hence, the BSE Sensex futures are expected to show lower market efficiency and greater basis risk.

There are several kinds of speculation that are possible - forecasting movements of Nifty, forecasting movements in Nifty futures prices, and forecasting interest rates.

Sometimes, the forecast horizon generates constraints. If you have a two-month view, then a futures contract that has only a few weeks of life left might be inconvenient. Another major issue is liquidity. Other things being equal, it is always better to use the contract with the tightest bid-ask spread.

Sell a million rupees of Nifty on the spot market. Make delivery, and get paid. This is your "borrowed funds".

Simultaneously, buy a million rupees of Nifty futures.

Hold these positions till the futures expiration date.

On the futures expiration date, buy back the Nifty shares on the spot market. When you pay for them, you are "repaying your loan".

Internationally, clearing corporations calibrate their risk containment system so that failures are expected to take place roughly once or twice in each fifty years. The track record of futures clearing corporations internationally is impressive. In the 20th century, we have seen just a handful of failures (e.g. Hong Kong in 1987). NSCC has a short track record: it has been doing novation on the "equity spot mar-ket" (which is actually a futures market) from 1996 onwards. In these five years, the equity market has experienced high volatility, a high incidence of bankruptcies by NSE brokerage firms, payments problems on other exchanges, etc. NSCC has successfully shouldered the task of doing novation on India's largest financial market (NSE). While this suggests that NSCC may have fairly sound risk containment systems, we should be cautious since it only has a track record of five years of doing novation.

Nifty is a well-diversified portfolio of companies that make up 54% of the market capitalisation of India. The diversification inside Nifty serves to "cancel out" influences of individual companies or industries.

Hence Nifty, as a whole, reflects the overall prospects of India's corporate sector and India's economy. Nifty moves with events that impact India's economy. These include politics, macroeconomic policy announcements, interest rates, money supply and budgets, shocks from overseas, etc. Shah & Thomas (1999c) offer some time-series econometrics applied to Nifty.

Mutual fund is a mechanism for pooling the resources by issuing units to the investors and investing funds in securities in accordance with objectives as disclosed in offer document.

Investments in securities are spread across a wide cross-section of industries and sectors and thus the risk is reduced. Diversification reduces the risk because all stocks may not move in the same direction in the same proportion at the same time. Mutual fund issues units to the investors in accordance with quantum of money invested by them. Investors of mutual funds are known as unitholders.

The profits or losses are shared by the investors in proportion to their investments. The mutual funds normally come out with a number of schemes with different investment objectives which are launched from time to time. A mutual fund is required to be registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which regulates securities markets before it can collect funds from the public.

Unit Trust of India was the first mutual fund set up in India in the year 1963. In early 1990s, Government allowed public sector banks and institutions to set up mutual funds.

In the year 1992, Securities and exchange Board of India (SEBI) Act was passed. The objectives of SEBI are – to protect the interest of investors in securities and to promote the development of and to regulate the securities market.

As far as mutual funds are concerned, SEBI formulates policies and regulates the mutual funds to protect the interest of the investors. SEBI notified regulations for the mutual funds in 1993. Thereafter, mutual funds sponsored by private sector entities were allowed to enter the capital market. The regulations were fully revised in 1996 and have been amended thereafter from time to time. SEBI has also issued guidelines to the mutual funds from time to time to protect the interests of investors.

All mutual funds whether promoted by public sector or private sector entities including those promoted by foreign entities are governed by the same set of Regulations. There is no distinction in regulatory requirements for these mutual funds and all are subject to monitoring and inspections by SEBI. The risks associated with the schemes launched by the mutual funds sponsored by these entities are of similar type.

A mutual fund is set up in the form of a trust, which has sponsor, trustees, asset management company (AMC) and custodian. The trust is established by a sponsor or more than one sponsor who is like promoter of a company. The trustees of the mutual fund hold its property for the benefit of the unitholders. Asset Management Company (AMC) approved by SEBI manages the funds by making investments in various types of securities. Custodian, who is registered with SEBI, holds the securities of various schemes of the fund in its custody. The trustees are vested with the general power of superintendence and direction over AMC. They monitor the performance and compliance of SEBI Regulations by the mutual fund.

SEBI Regulations require that at least two thirds of the directors of trustee company or board of trustees must be independent i.e. they should not be associated with the sponsors. Also, 50% of the directors of AMC must be independent. All mutual funds are required to be registered with SEBI before they launch any scheme.

The performance of a particular scheme of a mutual fund is denoted by Net Asset Value (NAV).

Mutual funds invest the money collected from the investors in securities markets. In simple words, Net Asset Value is the market value of the securities held by the scheme. Since market value of securities changes every day, NAV of a scheme also varies on day to day basis. The NAV per unit is the market value of securities of a scheme divided by the total number of units of the scheme on any particular date. For example, if the market value of securities of a mutual fund scheme is Rs 200 lakhs and the mutual fund has issued 10 lakhs units of Rs. 10 each to the investors, then the NAV per unit of the fund is Rs.20. NAV is required to be disclosed by the mutual funds on a regular basis - daily or weekly - depending on the type of scheme.

Schemes according to Maturity Period:

A mutual fund scheme can be classified into open-ended scheme or close-ended scheme depending on its maturity period.

Open-ended Fund/ Scheme

An open-ended fund or scheme is one that is available for subscription and repurchase on a continuous basis. These schemes do not have a fixed maturity period. Investors can conveniently buy and sell units at Net Asset Value (NAV) related prices which are declared on a daily basis. The key feature of open-end schemes is liquidity.

Close-ended Fund/ Scheme

A close-ended fund or scheme has a stipulated maturity period e.g. 5-7 years. The fund is open for subscription only during a specified period at the time of launch of the scheme. Investors can invest in the scheme at the time of the initial public issue and thereafter they can buy or sell the units of the scheme on the stock exchanges where the units are listed. In order to provide an exit route to the investors, some close-ended funds give an option of selling back the units to the mutual fund through periodic repurchase at NAV related prices. SEBI Regulations stipulate that at least one of the two exit routes is provided to the investor i.e. either repurchase facility or through listing on stock exchanges. These mutual funds schemes disclose NAV generally on weekly basis.

Schemes according to Investment Objective:

A scheme can also be classified as growth scheme, income scheme, or balanced scheme considering its investment objective. Such schemes may be open-ended or close-ended schemes as described earlier. Such schemes may be classified mainly as follows:

Growth / Equity Oriented Scheme

The aim of growth funds is to provide capital appreciation over the medium to long- term. Such schemes normally invest a major part of their corpus in equities. Such funds have comparatively high risks. These schemes provide different options to the investors like dividend option, capital appreciation, etc. and the investors may choose an option depending on their preferences. The investors must indicate the option in the application form. The mutual funds also allow the investors to change the options at a later date. Growth schemes are good for investors having a long-term outlook seeking appreciation over a period of time.

Income / Debt Oriented Scheme

The aim of income funds is to provide regular and steady income to investors. Such schemes generally invest in fixed income securities such as bonds, corporate debentures, Government securities and money market instruments. Such funds are less risky compared to equity schemes. These funds are not affected because of fluctuations in equity markets. However, opportunities of capital appreciation are also limited in such funds. The NAVs of such funds are affected because of change in interest rates in the country. If the interest rates fall, NAVs of such funds are likely to increase in the short run and vice versa. However, long term investors may not bother about these fluctuations.

Balanced Fund

The aim of balanced funds is to provide both growth and regular income as such schemes invest both in equities and fixed income securities in the proportion indicated in their offer documents. These are appropriate for investors looking for moderate growth. They generally invest 40-60% in equity and debt instruments. These funds are also affected because of fluctuations in share prices in the stock markets. However, NAVs of such funds are likely to be less volatile compared to pure equity funds.

Money Market or Liquid Fund

These funds are also income funds and their aim is to provide easy liquidity, preservation of capital and moderate income. These schemes invest exclusively in safer short-term instruments such as treasury bills, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and inter-bank call money, government securities, etc. Returns on these schemes fluctuate much less compared to other funds. These funds are appropriate for corporate and individual investors as a means to park their surplus funds for short periods.

Gilt Fund

These funds invest exclusively in government securities. Government securities have no default risk. NAVs of these schemes also fluctuate due to change in interest rates and other economic factors as is the case with income or debt oriented schemes.

Index Funds

Index Funds replicate the portfolio of a particular index such as the BSE Sensitive index, S&P NSE 50 index (Nifty), etc These schemes invest in the securities in the same weightage comprising of an index. NAVs of such schemes would rise or fall in accordance with the rise or fall in the index, though not exactly by the same percentage due to some factors known as "tracking error" in technical terms. Necessary disclosures in this regard are made in the offer document of the mutual fund scheme.

There are also exchange traded index funds launched by the mutual funds which are traded on the stock exchanges.

These are the funds/schemes which invest in the securities of only those sectors or industries as specified in the offer documents. e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Software, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Petroleum stocks, etc. The returns in these funds are dependent on the performance of the respective sectors/industries. While these funds may give higher returns, they are more risky compared to diversified funds. Investors need to keep a watch on the performance of those sectors/industries and must exit at an appropriate time. They may also seek advice of an expert.

These schemes offer tax rebates to the investors under specific provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 as the Government offers tax incentives for investment in specified avenues. e.g. Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS). Pension schemes launched by the mutual funds also offer tax benefits. These schemes are growth oriented and invest pre-dominantly in equities. Their growth opportunities and risks associated are like any equity-oriented scheme.

A scheme that invests primarily in other schemes of the same mutual fund or other mutual funds is known as a FoF scheme. An FoF scheme enables the investors to achieve greater diversification through one scheme. It spreads risks across a greater universe.

A Load Fund is one that charges a percentage of NAV for entry or exit. That is, each time one buys or sells units in the fund, a charge will be payable. This charge is used by the mutual fund for marketing and distribution expenses. Suppose the NAV per unit is Rs.10. If the entry as well as exit load charged is 1%, then the investors who buy would be required to pay Rs.10.10 and those who offer their units for repurchase to the mutual fund will get only Rs.9.90 per unit. The investors should take the loads into consideration while making investment as these affect their yields/returns. However, the investors should also consider the performance track record and service standards of the mutual fund which are more important. Efficient funds may give higher returns in spite of loads.

A no-load fund is one that does not charge for entry or exit. It means the investors can enter the fund/scheme at NAV and no additional charges are payable on purchase or sale of units.

Mutual funds cannot increase the load beyond the level mentioned in the offer document. Any change in the load will be applicable only to prospective investments and not to the original investments. In case of imposition of fresh loads or increase in existing loads, the mutual funds are required to amend their offer documents so that the new investors are aware of loads at the time of investments.

The price or NAV a unitholder is charged while investing in an open-ended scheme is called sales price. It may include sales load, if applicable.

Repurchase or redemption price is the price or NAV at which an open-ended scheme purchases or redeems its units from the unitholders. It may include exit load, if applicable.

Assured return schemes are those schemes that assure a specific return to the unitholders irrespective of performance of the scheme.

A scheme cannot promise returns unless such returns are fully guaranteed by the sponsor or AMC and this is required to be disclosed in the offer document.

Investors should carefully read the offer document whether return is assured for the entire period of the scheme or only for a certain period. Some schemes assure returns one year at a time and they review and change it at the beginning of the next year.

Considering the market trends, any prudent fund managers can change the asset allocation i.e. he can invest higher or lower percentage of the fund in equity or debt instruments compared to what is disclosed in the offer document. It can be done on a short term basis on defensive considerations i.e. to protect the NAV. Hence the fund managers are allowed certain flexibility in altering the asset allocation considering the interest of the investors. In case the mutual fund wants to change the asset allocation on a permanent basis, they are required to inform the unitholders and giving them option to exit the scheme at prevailing NAV without any load.

Mutual funds normally come out with an advertisement in newspapers publishing the date of launch of the new schemes. Investors can also contact the agents and distributors of mutual funds who are spread all over the country for necessary information and application forms. Forms can be deposited with mutual funds through the agents and distributors who provide such services. Now a days, the post offices and banks also distribute the units of mutual funds. However, the investors may please note that the mutual funds schemes being marketed by banks and post offices should not be taken as their own schemes and no assurance of returns is given by them. The only role of banks and post offices is to help in distribution of mutual funds schemes to the investors.

Investors should not be carried away by commission/gifts given by agents/distributors for investing in a particular scheme. On the other hand they must consider the track record of the mutual fund and should take objective decisions.

Yes, non-resident Indians can also invest in mutual funds. Necessary details in this respect are given in the offer documents of the schemes.

An investor should take into account his risk taking capacity, age factor, financial position, etc. As already mentioned, the schemes invest in different type of securities as disclosed in the offer documents and offer different returns and risks. Investors may also consult financial experts before taking decisions. Agents and distributors may also help in this regard.

An investor must mention clearly his name, address, number of units applied for and such other information as required in the application form. He must give his bank account number so as to avoid any fraudulent encashment of any cheque/draft issued by the mutual fund at a later date for the purpose of dividend or repurchase. Any changes in the address, bank account number, etc at a later date should be informed to the mutual fund immediately.

An abridged offer document, which contains very useful information, is required to be given to the prospective investor by the mutual fund. The application form for subscription to a scheme is an integral part of the offer document. SEBI has prescribed minimum disclosures in the offer document. An investor, before investing in a scheme, should carefully read the offer document. Due care must be given to portions relating to main features of the scheme, risk factors, initial issue expenses and recurring expenses to be charged to the scheme, entry or exit loads, sponsor’s track record, educational qualification and work experience of key personnel including fund managers, performance of other schemes launched by the mutual fund in the past, pending litigations and penalties imposed, etc.

Mutual funds are required to despatch certificates or statements of accounts within six weeks from the date of closure of the initial subscription of the scheme. In case of close-ended schemes, the investors would get either a demat account statement or unit certificates as these are traded in the stock exchanges. In case of open-ended schemes, a statement of account is issued by the mutual fund within 30 days from the date of closure of initial public offer of the scheme. The procedure of repurchase is mentioned in the offer document.

According to SEBI Regulations, transfer of units is required to be done within thirty days from the date of lodgment of certificates with the mutual fund.

A mutual fund is required to despatch to the unitholders the dividend warrants within 30 days of the declaration of the dividend and the redemption or repurchase proceeds within 10 working days from the date of redemption or repurchase request made by the unitholder.

In case of failures to despatch the redemption/repurchase proceeds within the stipulated time period, Asset Management Company is liable to pay interest as specified by SEBI from time to time (15% at present).

Yes. However, no change in the nature or terms of the scheme, known as fundamental attributes of the scheme e.g.structure, investment pattern, etc. can be carried out unless a written communication is sent to each unitholder and an advertisement is given in one English daily having nationwide circulation and in a newspaper published in the language of the region where the head office of the mutual fund is situated. The unitholders have the right to exit the scheme at the prevailing NAV without any exit load if they do not want to continue with the scheme. The mutual funds are also required to follow similar procedure while converting the scheme form close-ended to open-ended scheme and in case of change in sponsor.

There may be changes from time to time in a mutual fund. The mutual funds are required to inform any material changes to their unitholders. Apart from it, many mutual funds send quarterly newsletters to their investors.

At present, offer documents are required to be revised and updated at least once in two years. In the meantime, new investors are informed about the material changes by way of addendum to the offer document till the time offer document is revised and reprinted.

The performance of a scheme is reflected in its net asset value (NAV) which is disclosed on daily basis in case of open-ended schemes and on weekly basis in case of close-ended schemes. The NAVs of mutual funds are required to be published in newspapers. The NAVs are also available on the web sites of mutual funds. All mutual funds are also required to put their NAVs on the web site of Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) and thus the investors can access NAVs of all mutual funds at one place

The mutual funds are also required to publish their performance in the form of half-yearly results which also include their returns/yields over a period of time i.e. last six months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and since inception of schemes. Investors can also look into other details like percentage of expenses of total assets as these have an affect on the yield and other useful information in the same half-yearly format.

The mutual funds are also required to send annual report or abridged annual report to the unitholders at the end of the year.

Various studies on mutual fund schemes including yields of different schemes are being published by the financial newspapers on a weekly basis. Apart from these, many research agencies also publish research reports on performance of mutual funds including the ranking of various schemes in terms of their performance. Investors should study these reports and keep themselves informed about the performance of various schemes of different mutual funds.

Investors can compare the performance of their schemes with those of other mutual funds under the same category. They can also compare the performance of equity oriented schemes with the benchmarks like BSE Sensitive Index, S&P CNX Nifty, etc.

On the basis of performance of the mutual funds, the investors should decide when to enter or exit from a mutual fund scheme.

The mutual funds are required to disclose full portfolios of all of their schemes on half-yearly basis which are published in the newspapers. Some mutual funds send the portfolios to their unitholders.

The scheme portfolio shows investment made in each security i.e. equity, debentures, money market instruments, government securities, etc. and their quantity, market value and % to NAV. These portfolio statements also required to disclose illiquid securities in the portfolio, investment made in rated and unrated debt securities, non-performing assets (NPAs), etc.

Some of the mutual funds send newsletters to the unitholders on quarterly basis which also contain portfolios of the schemes.

Yes, there is a difference. IPOs of companies may open at lower or higher price than the issue price depending on market sentiment and perception of investors. However, in the case of mutual funds, the par value of the units may not rise or fall immediately after allotment. A mutual fund scheme takes some time to make investment in securities. NAV of the scheme depends on the value of securities in which the funds have been deployed.

Some of the investors have the tendency to prefer a scheme that is available at lower NAV compared to the one available at higher NAV. Sometimes, they prefer a new scheme which is issuing units at Rs. 10 whereas the existing schemes in the same category are available at much higher NAVs. Investors may please note that in case of mutual funds schemes, lower or higher NAVs of similar type schemes of different mutual funds have no relevance. On the other hand, investors should choose a scheme based on its merit considering performance track record of the mutual fund, service standards, professional management, etc. This is explained in an example given below.

Suppose scheme A is available at a NAV of Rs.15 and another scheme B at Rs.90. Both schemes are diversified equity oriented schemes. Investor has put Rs. 9,000 in each of the two schemes. He would get 600 units (9000/15) in scheme A and 100 units (9000/90) in scheme B. Assuming that the markets go up by 10 per cent and both the schemes perform equally good and it is reflected in their NAVs. NAV of scheme A would go up to Rs. 16.50 and that of scheme B to Rs. 99. Thus, the market value of investments would be Rs. 9,900 (600* 16.50) in scheme A and it would be the same amount of Rs. 9900 in scheme B (100*99). The investor would get the same return of 10% on his investment in each of the schemes. Thus, lower or higher NAV of the schemes and allotment of higher or lower number of units within the amount an investor is willing to invest, should not be the factors for making investment decision. Likewise, if a new equity oriented scheme is being offered at Rs.10 and an existing scheme is available for Rs. 90, should not be a factor for decision making by the investor. Similar is the case with income or debt-oriented schemes.

On the other hand, it is likely that the better managed scheme with higher NAV may give higher returns compared to a scheme which is available at lower NAV but is not managed efficiently. Similar is the case of fall in NAVs. Efficiently managed scheme at higher NAV may not fall as much as inefficiently managed scheme with lower NAV. Therefore, the investor should give more weightage to the professional management of a scheme instead of lower NAV of any scheme. He may get much higher number of units at lower NAV, but the scheme may not give higher returns if it is not managed efficiently.

As already mentioned, the investors must read the offer document of the mutual fund scheme very carefully. They may also look into the past track record of performance of the scheme or other schemes of the same mutual fund. They may also compare the performance with other schemes having similar investment objectives. Though past performance of a scheme is not an indicator of its future performance and good performance in the past may or may not be sustained in the future, this is one of the important factors for making investment decision. In case of debt oriented schemes, apart from looking into past returns, the investors should also see the quality of debt instruments which is reflected in their rating. A scheme with lower rate of return but having investments in better rated instruments may be safer. Similarly, in equities schemes also, investors may look for quality of portfolio. They may also seek advice of experts.

Investors should not assume some companies having the name "mutual benefit" as mutual funds. These companies do not come under the purview of SEBI. On the other hand, mutual funds can mobilise funds from the investors by launching schemes only after getting registered with SEBI as mutual funds.

In the offer document of any mutual fund scheme, financial performance including the net worth of the sponsor for a period of three years is required to be given. The only purpose is that the investors should know the track record of the company which has sponsored the mutual fund. However, higher net worth of the sponsor does not mean that the scheme would give better returns or the sponsor would compensate in case the NAV falls.

Almost all the mutual funds have their own web sites. Investors can also access the NAVs, half-yearly results and portfolios of all mutual funds at the web site of Association of mutual funds in India (AMFI) AMFI has also published useful literature for the investors.

Investors can log on to the web site of SEBI and go to "Mutual Funds" section for information on SEBI regulations and guidelines, data on mutual funds, draft offer documents filed by mutual funds, addresses of mutual funds, etc. Also, in the annual reports of SEBI available on the web site, a lot of information on mutual funds is given.

There are a number of other web sites which give a lot of information of various schemes of mutual funds including yields over a period of time. Many newspapers also publish useful information on mutual funds on daily and weekly basis. Investors may approach their agents and distributors to guide them in this regard.

Yes. The nomination can be made by individuals applying for / holding units on their own behalf singly or jointly. Non-individuals including society, trust, body corporate, partnership firm, Karta of Hindu Undivided Family, holder of Power of Attorney cannot nominate.

In case of winding up of a scheme, the mutual funds pay a sum based on prevailing NAV after adjustment of expenses. Unitholders are entitled to receive a report on winding up from the mutual funds which gives all necessary details.

Investors would find the name of contact person in the offer document of the mutual fund scheme whom they may approach in case of any query, complaints or grievances. Trustees of a mutual fund monitor the activities of the mutual fund. The names of the directors of asset management company and trustees are also given in the offer documents. Investors should approach the concerned Mutual Fund / Investor Service Centre of the Mutual Fund with their complaints,

If the complaints remain unresolved, the investors may approach SEBI for facilitating redressal of their complaints. On receipt of complaints, SEBI takes up the matter with the concerned mutual fund and follows up with it regularly. Investors may send their complaints to:

Securities and Exchange Board of India

Office of Investor Assistance and Education (OIAE)

Exchange Plaza, 'G' Block, 4th Floor,

Bandra-Kurla Complex,

Bandra (E), Mumbai-400 051.

Phone: 26598510-13

An applicant proposing to sponsor a mutual fund in India must submit an application in Form A along with a fee of Rs.25,000. The application is examined and once the sponsor satisfies certain conditions such as being in the financial services business and possessing positive net worth for the last five years, having net profit in three out of the last five years and possessing the general reputation of fairness and integrity in all business transactions, it is required to complete the remaining formalities for setting up a mutual fund. These include inter alia, executing the trust deed and investment management agreement, setting up a trustee company/board of trustees comprising two- thirds independent trustees, incorporating the asset management company (AMC), contributing to at least 40% of the net worth of the AMC and appointing a custodian. Upon satisfying these conditions, the registration certificate is issued subject to the payment of registration fees of Rs.25.00 lacs For details, see the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996.