What is a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP)?
An SIP is simply; a method of investing a fixed sum, regularly, in a mutual fund. It is very similar to regular saving schemes like a recurring deposit. An SIP allows you to buy units on a given date each month, so you can implement an investment / saving plan for yourself. Once you have decided on the amount you want to invest every month and the mutual fund scheme in which you want to invest, you can either give post-dated cheques or ECS instruction, and the investment will be made regularly.
As is customary I have I have started with describing what an SIP is. Let us break some myths on SIP.
1. Investment in equity mutual funds or unit linked insurance should ALWAYS be done in SIP mode: I remember in 1999 when Templeton Mutual fund talked about SIP – the market looked at it skeptically. And it would take a lot of convincing for customers to accept it. Now, life has come a full circle. Everybody wants to (ALWAYS) invest using SIP. If you have the maturity and calmness to realize that equities are for the long term and are willing to give your funds about 10 years, AND you have a lump-sum, you can afford to give the SIP route a go by. However if your horizon is less than 5 years, you MUST do an SIP.
2. I do rupee cost averaging in a single equity – that is a kind of SIP is it not? This is a question I face every day. NO a rupee cost averaging in single scrip cannot be equated to an SIP. When the market brings down the price of single scrip it is giving you information. You need to react to that. Let us take 2 examples – Lupin laboratories – has moved from a high of Rs. 700 to Rs. 100 and back to Rs. 700. The question to ask is not whether SIP would have worked. The question to ask is whether you would have had the stomach to continue the SIP through the period. Silverline technologies moved from 30 to 1300 to 7! If you had started the SIP at a price of Rs. 1300 – today you would be licking your wounds. SIP works in a portfolio, not in single scrip.
3. You CANNOT invest a lump-sum in the same account in which you are doing an SIP. I have no idea why this myth has got into people’s head. Many people think if they are doing an SIP in a particular fund, and suddenly they have a surplus, they cannot put that lump sum in that account – far from it. In case you are doing a sip of Rs. 10,000 per month in equity fund, and suddenly you have a surplus of Rs. 100,000 and clearly you have a 10 year view on the same, just push it into your SIP account. SIP is just a payment mode, not a scheme!
4. If I miss investing for a particular month, will they prosecute me? This is the EMI fear that people have. In an SIP you are buying an investment every month (or quarter) – there is no question of prosecuting you for not missing one investment. As a matter of discipline, you should not miss any month; however, missing one month’s investment is not a crime!
5. When you have a surplus (accumulation stage of your life) you should do an SIP and during retirement you should do a SWP! No. you should keep your withdrawals only from an income fund or a bank fixed deposit. You should sell an equity fund on some other basis – say deciding to sell 20% of your portfolio in a year that the return is 4 times the 30 year historic return. SWP, by definition cannot work in an equity fund!
6. SIP works for everybody, but does not work for me! Another myth. SIP works in a well diversified equity fund in the long run. When people put forth arguments that it does not work for them, they have either not chosen a good fund or are looking at a 12 month horizon.
7. SIP is only for small investors. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I have a friend who has invested Rs. 55.66 lakhs using SIP – starting from Jan 1998 till date. Obviously he has invested much more in later years as his income went up – and the funds together are worth Rs. 187 lakhs – substantially higher than his provident fund.
8. Market is too high to start an SIP – I have heard this when the index was 3000 also. I have no clue where is the market headed, but I know SIP works!
9. If a do an SIP in a tax plan, can I withdraw ALL the money on completion of 3 years? Another regular question almost all day! The answer is every instalment has to be with the fund house for 3 years. The lock-in comes from the Income tax rules which say that a tax saving scheme should have a 3 year lock-in.
You cannot escape that by doing an SIP!
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