When she was growing up, Amala had a singular dream – to become a designer and open the boutique of her dreams. With this dream at the forefront of all her decisions, Amala pursued fashion designing in college and started working with a renowned designer in Mumbai. While she had begun her career, there was a small problem – she needed a sizeable corpus to be able to start her own boutique and while the banks could offer her a loan, she was required to furnish a percentage of the capital herself. This got her thinking and Amala understood that it would not be possible to realise her dream through simply saving up her salary. With inflation rising steadily and property prices sky-rocketing, she needed another way to achieve her financial goal in a timely and efficient manner.
Early on Amala realised that financial planning is the cornerstone of securing one's financial future and in this journey mutual funds can be of great help in meeting long-term financial goals given their diversity, professional management, and accessibility. Mutual funds are investment vehicles that pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. They are managed by professional fund managers who make investment decisions on behalf of the investors and have the ability to help individuals like Amala realise their life goals and financial requirements.
Setting Calibrated Financial Goals
The first step in financial planning with mutual funds is defining your financial goals. You can categorise these goals based on their time horizon, as short-term (1-3 years), medium-term (3-5 years), or long-term (5+ years). For Amala, her goal was long-term, since she wanted to accumulate both knowledge and experience before starting her own boutique. Common financial goals include creating an emergency fund, buying a house, funding education, saving for retirement, and wealth accumulation and when you clearly define your goals and their timeframes, you will find it easier to choose the appropriate mutual fund investments.
Optimal Risk Assessment & Asset Allocation
Understanding your risk tolerance is vital in financial planning, since mutual funds come in various categories, each with a different risk profile. Equity funds, for instance, carry a higher risk but offer the potential for higher returns, while debt funds are relatively lower risk with more stable returns. Your risk tolerance should align with your financial goals and investment horizon.
In Amala’s case, her long-term horizon allows her leeway to invest in riskier assets like equities, since she has the time to let market volatility play itself out without affecting her actual returns. However, only allocating her savings to equities can increase the risk and hence, she must undertake asset allocation, which is the process of distributing investments among different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. It is a critical aspect of financial planning as it helps manage risk while optimising returns.
Leveraging a Systematic Approach
For new investors like Amala, a systematic investment plan or SIP is an excellent option to begin the journey towards realising financial goals. SIP is a disciplined approach to investing in mutual funds and involves investing a fixed amount regularly, typically monthly, into a mutual fund scheme of your choice. SIPs help in rupee cost averaging, which means you buy more units when prices are low and fewer units when prices are high, ultimately reducing the average cost of acquisition. Given the concept of compounding interest, wherein the principal and accumulated interest attracts additional interest, SIPs are an effective way to accumulate wealth over the long term.
As you can see, financial planning with mutual funds is a dynamic process that empowers individuals to achieve their financial goals, whether it is saving for a comfortable retirement or realising their dream of homeownership. By understanding your goals, risk tolerance, and the principles of asset allocation and diversification, you can harness the potential of mutual funds to secure your financial future. However, financial planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach and therefore, it should be customised to your unique circumstances and aspirations. With a well-structured financial plan and disciplined investment approach, you can build wealth, mitigate risk, and work toward financial security, all in one swoop.