A fixed maturity plan is a close-ended debt fund which comes with a fixed lock-in period and limited investment window. Individuals can only invest in such securities during new fund offers or NFO made by any asset management company through subscription requests.
Such corpus mainly consists of debt securities such as certificates of deposit, treasury bills, corporate bonds, etc.
Characteristics of Fixed Maturity Plans
A fixed maturity plan has the following features-
- Lock-in period
Fixed maturity plans come with a stipulated lock-in period during which funds cannot be withdrawn from the scheme. The primary purpose of such stringent withdrawal rules is to ensure the deposit remains locked-in for a given tenure so that maximum returns can be generated from the underlying securities.
Fixed maturity plan returns are generated through investment in debt tools such as government and corporate bonds, non-convertible debentures, treasury bills, certificates of deposit, commercial papers, securitised debt instruments, etc.
Such a portfolio is created by respective fund managers to ensure minimal risk is associated with total corpus, as stock market fluctuations have a relatively lower impact on such debt securities.
- Close-ended schemes
Individuals willing to invest in close-ended fixed maturity schemes can do so by subscribing to a new fund offer when announced by asset management companies. Only a limited number of NAV units are issued against such funds, which are traded in the share market like standard shares.
As a fixed deposit plan comes with a predetermined lock-in period, NAV units of such mutual funds can only be obtained during times of new fund offers.
- Quality assets
Portfolio managers primarily choose debt instruments issued by renowned companies to build a corpus which generates the highest fixed maturity plan returns. This reduces the risk factor associated with tools further, making it one of the safest stock market tools available.
Advantages of Fixed Maturity Plans
Investing in a fixed maturity plan comes with the following associated benefits –
- Lower risk –
A fixed maturity plan is one of the most secure forms investment as it primarily targets debt securities of renowned listed companies operating in a country. Debt tools act as a liability for a company, and thereby, are repaid first from annual revenues.
Also, such fixed maturity mutual funds come with high credit ratings as computed by the top credit rating agencies in the country, hence certifying the credibility of the scheme.
- Stability –
Debt tools are subject to relatively lower fluctuations arising from stock market fluctuations. Also, during times of recession in a country, the bonds become more profitable as investors shift towards less risky instruments, allowing individuals to enjoy high returns from their investment.
Limitations of a Fixed Maturity Plan
- Relatively lower yields
Fixed maturity returns are comparatively lower than corresponding investments in equity funds, as the return percentage remains fixed throughout the tenure of investment. Consequently, investors fail to benefit from any positive cyclical movement of the stock market, as interest incomes remain constant for such schemes.
- Stringent lock-in period
Investing in a fixed maturity plan implies that the principal amount has to be kept locked in for a stipulated period, without the benefit of partial withdrawals. This might pose a burden on the liquidity requirements of investors.
Best fixed maturity plans 2020 are taxed in tune with debt mutual funds. Short-term capital gains are subject to tax rates as per the income tax slab of respective individuals, provided the asset was held for a period of fewer than three years.
Long term capital gains, on the other hand, is levied if the holding period exceeds three years. Total returns generated are subject to a 20% long term capital gains tax after adjustment for indexation. Such indexation benefits ensure investors enjoy real growth in their return portfolio generated by taking into account a rise in the overall price level in the country.
Who Should Consider Fixed Maturity Plans?
A fixed maturity plan is ideal for individuals with a low aptitude for risk and is looking for secure tools which experience relatively lower fluctuations corresponding with stock market variations. Such deposits come with a fixed expected return, as interest associated with underlying securities is declared at the time of their issuance. This helps investors undertake accurate financial planning, as the total earnings can be determined beforehand with negligible chances of deviations.
Thus, a fixed maturity plan can be an effective tool for an investor looking to mitigate the risk factor associated with stock market investments. Individuals can allocate their entire corpus in such instruments if they are risk-averse, or apportion only a percentage of their capital if they are looking for tools to diversify their investment portfolio.