New fund categories proposed by SEBI

The big announcement last year in the mutual fund industry was categorization and rationalization of mutual fund schemes by SEBI. The market regulator sought to bring uniformity in the characteristics of similar schemes to ensure that an investor is able to evaluate various options before making any investment.

As per the circular, SEBI has demarcated a total of 36 categories under 5 broad groups:

  1. Equity Schemes (10)
  2. Debt schemes (16)
  3. Hybrid Schemes (6)
  4. Solution Oriented Schemes (2)
  5. Other Schemes (2)

It is said that fund houses shall be allowed to have just one scheme per category. This is except in categories like index funds, fund of funds & sectoral funds. This will simplify selection of funds for investors and advisors.

Due to standard categorization, comparison of schemes will be easier and one would be able to conduct an apple-to-apple comparison for each category. Similar schemes will have to be either merged or reclassified into different category. Due to the ‘1 scheme per category’ criteria, there would be a reduction in duplication of schemes. Several fund houses have recently merged, change names and basic attributes of some schemes to comply with the new SEBI norms.

Below are the salient features of major equity schemes:

CategoryPortfolioSEBI definitionStocks with market capitalization*
Large CapMinimum 80% assets in Large Cap stocks1st-100th Company by market cap1st– Reliance Ind

100th– Vakrangee Ltd

Mid capMinimum 65% assets in Mid Cap stocks101st-250th Company by market cap101st– Colgate

100th– Manappuram Finance

Small capMinimum 65% assets in Small Cap stocks251st Company onwards by market cap251st– V-Guard Ind onwards
Multi CapMinimum 65% assets in equity across market capInvests across all market caps
Large & Mid CapMinimum 35% assets in large cap & 35% in mid capInvests in large cap & mid cap stocks
Focused FundMaximum 30 stocks irrespective of market capInvests in less than 30 stocks
Dividend Yield FundMinimum 65% assets in equity, predominantly in dividend yielding stocksInvest in high dividend paying stocks
Value Fund#Minimum 65% assets in equity,  equity related instrumentsFollow a value investing strategy
Contra Fund#Minimum 65% assets in equity,  equity related instrumentsFollow a contrarian investment strategy
Sectoral Fund80% of assets in equity of a particular sector/themeFund house can have different sectoral funds like Pharma Fund, banking Fund etc.
ELSS80% assets in equity, statutory lock-in of 3 years with tax benefitTax saving fund with 3 year lock-in

#Mutual funds will be allowed to offer either a Value Fund or Contra Fund

*Stocks are as per AMFI’s list of Average Market Capitalization of listed companies during the six months ended 31st December 2017. AMFI will upload the list of stocks on its website every six months based on data at the end of June and December every year. Portfolio rebalance has to be done in subsequent 1 month.

Debt funds follow two strategies: duration and accrual. Duration funds benefit from interest rate movements, whereas accrual funds earn regular income from corporate bonds.

Earlier, the maturity of funds was not defined. This made it difficult for investors to track the fund’s performance. But now, transparency has improved as the fund’s portfolio duration should be aligned within the limit specified for each category.

Below are the salient features of major debt schemes:

Overnight FundInvest in securities with maturity of 1 dayGood Alternative to savings account.

Negligible interest rate risk and low credit risk

Liquid FundInvest in securities with maturity up to 91 days
Ultra Short Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds- 3-6 months
Low Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds- 6-12 months
Money Market FundInvest in securities with maturity up to 1 year
Short Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds- 1-3 yearsLonger the duration greater the sensitivity to interest rates


Shorter durations have lower risk & yield while longer durations have higher risk & yields

Medium Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds- 3-4 years
Medium to Long Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds- 4-7 years
Long Duration FundPortfolio duration of funds more than 7 years
Dynamic BondDuration not fixed, managed dynamically
Corporate Bond FundMinimum 80% assets in AA+ and above rated corporate bondsCredit rating is parameter of selection

Lower credit rating- Higher credit risk

High credit risk & low interest rate risk

Credit Risk FundMinimum 65% assets in AA and below rated corporate bonds
Banking & PSU FundMinimum 80% of assets in debt instruments of banks, PSUs & Public financial Institutions
Gilt FundMinimum 80% of assets in government securities
Gilt Fund with 10 year constant durationMinimum 80% of assets in government securities with portfolio maturity constant at 10 years
Floater FundMinimum 65% investment in floating rate instruments

Below are the salient features of major hybrid schemes:

Conservative Hybrid FundsEquity- 10 to 25%  & Debt 75 to 90%MIPs- Debt oriented for tax purpose
Balanced Hybrid FundsEquity- 40 to 60%  & Debt 40 to 60%Debt oriented for tax purpose. No arbitrage permitted
Aggressive Hybrid FundsEquity- 65 to 80%  & Debt 20 to 35%Equity oriented for tax purpose. Balanced Funds will come under this category
Dynamic Asset Allocation or Balanced AdvantageEquity/Debt managed dynamicallyDynamic asset allocation between equity & debt
Multi-Asset FundsInvest in atleast 3 asset classes with minimum of 10% in eachInvest in different asset classes
Arbitrage FundMinimum 65% in equity following arbitrage strategy.Invest in arbitrage opportunities
Equity SavingsEquity- 65% & Debt 10%, rest in hedged/unhedged instrumentsEquity oriented for tax purpose. Invest in equity, arbitrage & debt.

*Mutual funds will be permitted to offer either Balanced Hybrid or Aggressive Hybrid.

Below are the salient features of major solution oriented schemes:

Retirement PlanningScheme having lock-in of 5 years or till retirement age
Children Future PlanningScheme having lock-in of 5 years or till child attains majority age

Below are the salient features of major other scheme categories:

Index fundsMinimum 95% assets in securities of index replicated/tracked
ETFs & Fund of FundsMinimum 95% assets in underlying fund

Categorization of schemes may lead to short-term turbulence due to changes that need to be made in each scheme. But, in the long run, this move will have a positive growth effect for the industry as a whole. With more and more investors preferring investment in mutual funds, this initiative is a step in the right direction.

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Sabyasachi Paul has been associated with equity research and advisory on equity markets in India for over 9 years & currently heads the equity research desk of Eastern Financiers Ltd, Kolkata. He also manages a portfolio on the online platform Kristal. Find link to the strategy named ‘The Tortoise’

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