Overnight Mutual Funds also have risks! What investors need to know

The risk of loss in an overnight mutual fund is the lowest among all mutual funds. However, that is only one type of risk! What investors should know before parking cash in these funds!

Published: April 3, 2020 at 10:43 am

An overnight mutual fund invests in bonds of the shortest maturity: one day. This means its portfolio is essentially cash and changes each day! While the loss of capital in this category is the lowest among all mutual funds, there are other risks that investors have to appreciate.

Debt mutual funds suffer from two primary types of risk: credit risk and interest rate risk. The interest rate risk has two components: (A) Higher the tenure of the bonds held by a fund, more the NAV will fluctuate due to market supply and demand changes.

In extreme situations, even liquid funds can react to demand and supply: Why Liquid funds and money market funds also fell in the last few days. (B) The second type of interest rate is known as reinvestment risk.

This is much less appreciated as it does not lead to an actual loss of capital. Instead, It leads to a lower return when fresh bonds have a lower interest rate. All short-term debt funds such as overnight funds, liquid funds, money market funds and ultra short-term funds suffer from this risk, It is a risk because the fund would fail to meet the return expectation of the investor.

Both the equity and bond market suffered from investor pull out last month. RBI had to step in to buy bonds to arrest the fall in yields. The lack of demand in the cash market was compounded by the lowering of the reverse repo rates by as much as 0.9%! This is done to remove from liquidity (money supply) in the system.

This means that financial institutions will find it significantly less rewarding to park money with RBI. This means that yields of short-term bonds will be significantly lower. Both these factors have affected all money market funds including liquid funds and overnight funds.

This is where reinvestment risk comes into play. Since overnight funds will be the first to immediately buy the new bonds with a lower interest rate, their NAV will be affected the most. The NAV will not fall, but the rate at which it moves up will significantly change. If you remember high school math, the slope of the NAV vs time chart will fall. When the slope falls, the returns will fall.

This is shown for Kotak Overnight fund in the image above. Going forward, the returns from all overnight funds should head close to that of an SB account.  Investors who use these funds to park cash without return expectations will however not be affected.

The table below shows how the 7-day absolute return of overnight funds for two different weeks have suddenly changed.

Table shows the abrupt change in weekly returns of overnight funds
Table shows the abrupt change in weekly returns of overnight funds

Investors who shifted money from liquid funds in fear to overnight funds will have to pay the price with guaranteed lower returns.

What should retail investors holding overnight funds do? Nothing other than appreciating reinvestment risk! Stay put but do not expect much returns in the coming months. Also do not make hasty decisions like shifting money into overnight funds (from other debt funds) or pulling out of overnight funds. We can run from investment risk but cannot hide. There is always a price to pay.

Do share if you found this useful

Share your thoughts on this topic in our  YouTube Community

Use our Robo-advisory Excel Template for a start-to-finish financial plan!

Join our courses in exclusive Facebook Groups!

  • 500+ members are now part of our new course, How to get people to pay for your skills! (watch 1st lecture for free). Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner wanting more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show how to achieve by showcasing your skills, building a community that trusts you and pays you!
  • 1822 members have signed for Goal-based portfolio management (watch 1st lecture for free). This is an online course to reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing for a financial goal. Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.

Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (will work with any index!) or you buy the new Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish mutual fund screeners and momentum, low volatility stock screeners on a monthly basis
About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association, IIST Alumni Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
About freefincal & its content policy Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on developments in mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified from credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish any kind of paid articles, promotions or PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions presented will only be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
Our publications

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingPublished by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions, seek the right answers and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now. It is also available in Kindle format.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want Gamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantThis book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is a deep dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 199 (instant download)
Free android apps