After a three-month hiatus, new fund offerings (NFOs) have made a strong comeback, with asset management companies launching over two dozen mutual fund schemes in July.
The new funds have been launched across the board -- actively managed equity funds, debt, index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Interestingly, passively managed funds, particularly ETFs, dominate the NFO market.
In April, there was a lull in the NFO space as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barred fund houses from floating new schemes until the industry complied with its norms concerning the pooling of investors' funds by intermediaries and distributors.
The deadline for the implementation of the new guideline was July 1.
Also, the regulator had asked fund houses to implement guidelines like dual authentication for redemption and verification of source of accounts while mutual fund investments are made.
These measures aimed to safeguard investors' interests and boost investor confidence in mutual fund investing.
According to industry data, as many as 18 asset management companies (AMCs) launched 28 mutual fund schemes in July. Of the 28 NFOs, 24 are underway, and the remaining four have been closed.
The NFOs, which are underway, include ICICI Prudential Nifty IT Index Fund, Aditya Birla Sun Life Nifty 200 Quality 30 ETF, Baroda BNP Paribas Flexi Cap Fund, Canara Robeco Banking and PSU Debt Fund.
Besides, DSP Nifty Midcap 150 Quality 50 Index Fund, HDFC Nifty 100 ETF, Motilal Oswal S&P BSE Quality Index Fund, IDFC Midcap Fund, Mirae Asset Balanced Advantage Fund, Quantum Nifty 50 ETF Fund of Fund, Union Gilt Fund and Large quant Cap Fund are underway.
In addition, half a dozen NFOs, which included one by Franklin Templeton MF that is floating a new scheme after a hiatus of two-and-half years, have been lined up for the next month.
Amar Ranu, Head - of investment products & Advisory at Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers, said most of the NFOs launched recently applied for approval from the capital markets regulator long before the 3-month ban.
"There is now a huge rush amongst AMCs to fill their passive index funds or ETFs buckets, and they don't want to lose their passive share for the absence of funds," he said.
In addition, he added that the lack of alpha generation by actively managed funds over the benchmark has led to sophisticated or institutional investors shifting some part of their portfolio to passively managed funds.
Himanshu Srivastava, Associate Director – Manager Research, Morningstar India, noticed an increased interest in ETFs from investors and fund houses alike.
Several ETFs have been launched over the last few years, and quite a few of these NFOs are either sector-oriented or have a thematic bend.
Further, Mr Ranu believes that factor investing is picking up very fast in India, which has seen some success from the existing Nifty 200 Momentum 30 Index Funds, which collected some quick assets under management (AUM) because of the unique positioning of the product.
AMCs are trying to complete their product basket and launch funds per their needs.
In multiple cases, NFOs that are likely to be launched are where existing fund houses are completing their product suite by adding to categories where they do not have a presence; Vishal Dhawan, Board Member, Association of Registered Investment Advisors, said.
NFOs are also being launched where interest rates are being locked into as yields have moved up or where there are new fund houses that can now start launching their schemes, he added.
NFOs lead to good participation from investors and increased activity from distributors.
The Sebi's diktat impacted the launch of new schemes as the ongoing financial year 2022-23 till June saw the introduction of only four NFOs that garnered a total of Rs 3,307 crore, with ICICI Prudential Housing Opportunities Fund taking the lion's share of Rs 3,159 crore.
In 2021-22, AMCs launched 176 new mutual fund schemes garnering Rs 1.08 lakh crore -- which meant an average of less than 15 a month. In 2020-21, 84 NFOs were floated; cumulatively, these funds could mobilise Rs 42,038 crore.
As we advance, there will be a slew of new fund launches in debt and equity space with passive strategies leading the race, Nitin Rao, Head Products & Proposition, Epsilon Money Mart, said.
"Further, we'll continue to see the growth of fixed income passive funds and long term or longer duration debt funds because rates have risen and can provide an attractive opportunity for investors," Radhika Gupta, MD and CEO, Edelweiss AMC, said.
Association of Registered Investment Advisors' Dhawan suggested investors consider new mutual fund schemes only where there are limited options available in those categories of mutual funds or if there is something particularly unique that a particular NFO offers.
The new schemes can be considered once they have built a track record.