Equity funds vs. multi asset fund: Understanding the difference

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Equity funds and multi asset funds are two common types of mutual funds. While both offer the potential for long-term capital appreciation, there are some key differences between these fund categories that investors should understand. Read on to learn more.

  • Table of contents
  1. What is an equity fund?
  2. What is a multi asset fund?
  3. Equity vs. multi asset fund
  4. FAQs

What is an equity fund?

An equity fund, also known as a stock fund, primarily invests in shares of companies. The goal of an equity fund is to provide growth potential by generating returns from stock price appreciation and dividends. Some examples of equity fund categories include large cap, mid cap, small cap, sectoral, thematic, dividend yield, and tax saving funds.

Equity funds aim to beat broader stock market returns over the long run. However, they are exposed to volatility and risks associated with the stock market. Hence, the return potential from equity funds is not fixed - it depends on the performance of the fund's underlying stocks.

What is a multi asset fund?

A multi asset fund is a hybrid fund that invests across various asset classes like equities, debt, gold, global stocks, REITs, InvITs etc. Multi asset allocation funds are a type of multi asset fund that actively changes allocation between equity, debt, gold, and other assets depending on the fund manager’s market outlook. Multi-asset funds invest in at least 3 asset classes. The portfolio is actively managed to adjust the allocation between different asset classes depending on prevailing market conditions and opportunities.

The aim of multi asset funds is to optimise risk-adjusted returns. By investing across assets with varying risk profiles, these funds aim to mitigate volatility compared to pure equity funds. The diversification helps to potentially limit downside risk during market declines.

Equity vs. multi asset fund

While equity and multi asset funds have some common characteristics, the difference between equity fund and multi asset fund lies in aspects as mentioned below.

Portfolio construction

  • Equity funds have at least 65% allocation to equities by mandate, with the balance in debt and cash.
  • Multi asset funds are mandated by SEBI to invest in at least 3 asset classes with a minimum allocation of at least 10% in each asset class.

Diversification

  • Equity funds have concentrated exposure to a single asset class, i.e., stocks.
  • Multi asset funds provide diversification across various asset classes to balance the risk-return profile.

Risk-return profile

  • Equity funds carry relatively higher risk as they are vulnerable to stock market volatility. But they also offer a higher return potential over the long run.
  • Multi asset funds exhibit relatively lower risk as asset allocation is actively managed. But returns may lag pure equity funds in bull markets.

Management style

  • Amongst equity funds, passive equity funds follow a buy-and-hold approach with minimal trading.
  • Multi asset funds require active management of asset allocation based on market valuation and momentum.

Suitability

  • Equity funds may be suitable for investors with a higher risk appetite and ability to withstand volatility.
  • Multi asset funds are more appropriate for conservative investors looking for relatively stable growth across varying market cycles.

When comparing an equity fund and multi asset fund, the key differences lie in portfolio construction, diversification, risk-return profile, and suitability for investors.

Conclusion
Equity funds are concentrated stock investments ideal for potentially building long term capital and beating inflation. But be prepared for significant volatility. Multi asset funds provide greater diversification and relatively lower risk through active asset allocation. But returns may trail dedicated equity funds over the long run. Choose equity funds if you have a long investment horizon and high-risk tolerance. Opt for multi asset funds if you want balanced exposure across assets. Understanding the core differences between an equity fund vs multi asset fund can help investors select the category aligned to their investment objectives and risk appetite.

FAQs:

Which is better - equity funds or multi asset funds?
There is no clear winner. The choice depends on one's risk appetite, return expectation, and investment horizon. Equity funds are tax-efficient and offer higher return potential over a 7-10 year horizon. Multi asset funds provide greater diversification and relative stability.

How often does a multi asset fund change its allocation?
Multi asset funds dynamically change their asset allocation in response to market movements. The allocation can change significantly within a short period based on the fund manager's outlook.

Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.
This document should not be treated as endorsement of the views/opinions or as investment advice. This document should not be construed as a research report or a recommendation to buy or sell any security. This document is for information purpose only and should not be construed as a promise on minimum returns or safeguard of capital. This document alone is not sufficient and should not be used for the development or implementation of an investment strategy. The recipient should note and understand that the information provided above may not contain all the material aspects relevant for making an investment decision. Investors are advised to consult their own investment advisor before making any investment decision in light of their risk appetite, investment goals and horizon. This information is subject to change without any prior notice.