Most investors want to make investments in such a way that they get sky-high returns as quickly as possible without the risk of losing principal money. This is the reason why many are always on the lookout for top investment plans where they can double their money in few months or years with little or no risk.
But a high-return, low-risk combination in a investment product, unfortunately, does not exist. Maybe in an ideal world but not at present. In reality, risk and returns are directly related, they go hand-in-hand, i.e., the higher the returns, higher the risk and vice versa.
While selecting an investment avenue, you have to match your own risk profile with the associated risks of the product before investing. There are some investments that carry high risk but have the potential to generate higher inflation-adjusted returns than other asset class in the long term while some investments come with low-risk and therefore lower returns.
There are two buckets that investment products fall into and they are financial and non-financial assets. Financial assets can be divided into market-linked products (like stocks and mutual fund) and fixed income products (like Public Provident Fund, bank fixed deposits). Non-financial assets – many Indians invest via this mode – are the likes of physical gold and real estate.
Here is a look at the top 10 investment avenues Indians look at while saving for their financial goals.
1. Direct equity
Investing in stocks might not be everyone’s cup of tea as it’s a volatile asset class and there is no guarantee of returns. Further, not only is it difficult to pick the right stock, timing your entry and exit is also not easy. The only silver lining is that over long periods, equity has been able to deliver higher than inflation-adjusted returns compared to all other asset classes.
At the same time, the risk of losing a considerable portion or even all of your capital is high unless one opts for stop-loss method to curtail losses. In stop-loss, one places an advance order to sell a stock at a specific price. To reduce the risk to certain extent, you could diversify across sectors and market capitalisations. To directly invest in equity, one needs to open ademat account.
Banks also allow opening of a 3-in-1 account. Here’s how you can open one to invest in shares.
2. Equity mutual funds
Equity mutual fund schemes predominantly invest in equity stocks. As per current the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) Mutual Fund Regulations, an equity mutual fund scheme must invest at least 65 percent of its assets in equity and equity-related instruments. An equity fund can be actively managed or passively managed.
In an actively traded fund, the returns are largely dependent on a fund manager’s ability to generate returns. Index funds and exchange-traded fund (ETFs) are passively managed, and these track the underlying index. Equity schemes are categorised according to market-capitalisation or the sectors in which they invest. They are also categorised by whether they are domestic (investing in stocks of only Indian companies) or international (investing in stocks of overseas companies). Read more about equity mutual funds.
3. Debt mutual funds
Debt mutual fund schemes are suitable for investors who want steady returns. They are less volatile and, hence, considered less risky compared to equity funds. Debt mutual funds primarily invest in fixed-interest generating securities like corporate bonds, government securities, treasury bills, commercial paper and other money market instruments.
However, these mutual funds are not risk free. They carry risks such as interest rate risk and credit risk. Therefore, investors should study the related risks before investing. Read more about debt mutual funds.
4. National Pension System (NPS)
The National Pension System is a long term retirement – focused investment product managed by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). The minimum annual (April-March) contribution for an NPS Tier-1 account to remain active has been reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 1,000. It is a mix of equity, fixed deposits, corporate bonds, liquid funds and government funds, among others. Based on your risk appetite, you can decide how much of your money can be invested in equities through NPS. Read more about NPS.
5. Public Provident Fund (PPF)
The Public Provident Fund is one product a lot of people turn to. Since the PPF has a long tenure of 15 years, the impact of compounding of tax-free interest is huge, especially in the later years. Further, since the interest earned and the principal invested is backed by sovereign guarantee, it makes it a safe investment. Remember, interest rate on PPF in reviewed every quarter by the government. Read more about the PPF here.
6. Bank fixed deposit (FD)
A bank fixed deposit is considered a comparatively safer (than equity or mutual funds) choice for investing in India. Under the deposit insurance and credit guarantee corporation (DICGC) rules, each depositor in a bank is insured up to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh with effect from February 4, 2020 for both principal and interest amount.
Earlier, the coverage was maximum of Rs 1 lakh for both principal and interest amount. As per the need, one may opt for monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, yearly or cumulative interest option in them. The interest rate earned is added to one’s income and is taxed as per one’s income slab. Read more about bank fixed deposit.
7. Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme (SCSS)
Probably the first choice of most retirees, the Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme is a must-have in their investment portfolios. As the name suggests, only senior citizens or early retirees can invest in this scheme. SCSS can be availed from a post office or a bank by anyone above 60.
SCSS has a five-year tenure, which can be further extended by three years once the scheme matures. The upper investment limit is Rs 15 lakh, and one may open more than one account. The interest rate on SCSS is payable quarterly and is fully taxable. Remember, the interest rate on the scheme is subject to review and revision every quarter.
However, once the investment is made in the scheme, then the interest rate will remain the same till the maturity of the scheme. Senior citizen can claim deduction of up to Rs 50,000 in a financial year under section 80TTB on the interest earned from SCSS. Read more about Senior Citizens’ Saving Scheme.
8. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)
PMVVY is for senior citizens aged 60 years and above to provide them an assured return of 7.4 per cent per annum. The scheme offers pension income payable monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly as opted. The minimum pension amount is Rs 1,000 per month and maximum Rs 9,250 per month. The maximum amount that can be invested in the scheme Rs 15 lakh. The tenure of the scheme is 10 years. The scheme is available till March 31, 2023. At maturity, the investment amount is repaid to the senior citizen. In the event of…