The year 1993 was a significant one for mutual funds in India. Private firms were allowed to enter, paving the way for the industry to grow at an unbelievable pace. Regulations were formulated for the first time.
And Business Today, just a year young, launched India's first-ever ranking of mutual funds by risk-adjusted performance, in association with Value Research, a Delhi-based mutual fund tracker, led by Dhirendra Kumar.
In 2004, we opted to do Best Fund Managers, assessing the people who managed investors' money. From this year, however, we are going back to ranking the Best Mutual Funds, as investors are once more keen on a fund's performance.
There are many mutual fund awards being doled out today. Most have categories based on assets under management (AUM) or the quantum of money managed by funds.
Our ranking categories, on the otherhand, are based on investor profiles - that is, the degree of risk an investor is willing to take.
Ergo, the category names, Equity: Aggressive; Equity: Conservative, and so on. Kumar of Value Research, our partner in this exercise, lucidly explains the philosophy behind the categories in his column.
To ensure we don't completely disconnect from our recent years' rankings, we have retained two Best Fund Manager categories - one each for equity and debt. The managers have been evaluated on their performance in the last five years, across fund houses. That gives a far more accurate indication of who are the best minds in the MF business.
Investor-focused ranking is an apt approach for these uncertain times. The AUM of the industry has doubled over the past five years to around Rs 6 trillion (one million equals 100,000 crore) as of December 2011, according to the Association of Mutual Funds of India. However, RBI data shows that mutual fund investments as a percentage of gross household savings have declined over the same period.
And even as an increasing number of small investors pour money into mutual funds, the industry is struggling with tightening regulations, institutional dependence and skewed geographic presence.
This has exerted immense pressure on operations and financials. Read about this struggle in Mutual Discomfort, the starting point of this riveting package of stories.