What I learnt from a 13 year midcap mutual fund SIP

Published: October 9, 2022 at 6:00 am

I started an Rs. 500 SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund (then known as Sundaram Select Midcap) for an extended family member’s higher education in Aug 2009. Here are some lessons on investment risk and reward from the investment.

Kindly note that I do not count this investment as part of my net worth and have doubled the amount sometime back. It is an all-or-nothing high-risk, possible-high reward idea. I figured if it failed, I would pay for it from elsewhere. Kindly do not reproduce this idea for your own goals.

When discussing a child’s future goal, readers often ask, “What if the wishes of the child change mid-way? How do we adjust the goal plan?” Well, 13 years is a long time, and a rather dramatic change occurred in this case. I am continuing to invest as usual, but the expected educational expense is likely to be lower than originally envisaged at the time of writing. Life happens!

Important: We are not against the idea of investing in MFs or investing in MFs via SIPs. Systematic investing is an excellent way to build long-term wealth. Most of our net worth is invested in mutual funds, and we strongly believe in systematic investing. However, having false notions about the SIP and believing false propaganda by those with vested interests is ill-advised.

Blindly investing via SIP without a plan is like leaving the fate of our hard-earned money to luck. Yes, the MF units will accumulate, but their return is not determined by when you purchase them. The final market value only determines the return at the time of redemption or return calculation, as shown below.

Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!
🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our robo-advisory tool & courses! 🔥

The only benefit of SIPs is they allow MF units to accumulate without worrying about “when” to invest. See: Rupee cost averaging via SIP has no benefit other than accumulating MF units.

From a behavioural point of view, systematic investing can easily trump market timing, provided it is accompanied by proper planning. We are not trying to dispute this here! We aim to point out that starting a SIP without an investment plan and continuing it in the hope everything will turn out ‘ok’ in the long-term is folly.

When we published, Myth Busted: SIPs do not reduce risk or enhance returns! Some claimed it was a “theoretical” study. Here are lessons with real money.

I had earlier reviewed the fund in Feb 2019. Twelve years ago, as a rank newbie, I did not quite recall how and why I chose this! Perhaps, I was under the incorrect assumption that “over the long term: midcap funds would beat large cap funds. Since my first investment was in Sundaram Tax Saver, and I knew the AMC office, I picked this one! Read more: Fourteen Years of Mutual Fund Investing: My Journey and lessons learned.

Yes, I was a “direct-to-AMC” investor in regular plans. The AMC was pocking commissions from this fund until Jan 1st 2013. On 28th Jan 2013, I switched from the regular to the direct plan.

I had earlier written about the journey of this SIP first in Mar 2018. The XIRR (annualised return) was an excellent fat 20% (after nine years). Things change pretty fast in this space! In Aug 2019, it dropped to about 13% (after ten years). In Aug 2020, the XIRR was 10% (after 11 years), and in Aug 2021, it was close to 17% (12 years). Currently is about 15% (13 years).

The most important lesson is, no matter how old your SIP, it will always react to market ups and downs. Risk does not get averaged and returns in an unmanaged SIP is down to luck or what time you decide to check it!

The 13-year SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund

This is the evolution of total investment and value.

Growth of Rs 500 SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from Aug 2009 to Aug 2022
Growth of Rs 500 SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from Aug 2009 to Aug 2022

It is pretty easy and convenient to make some lazy conclusions such as SIPs make one disciplined (no, they do not) and how SIPs always work in the long term (no, they do not).  If you wish to see what you wish to see, the rest of the article may not help. Let us begin if you wish to dip deeper and understand risks.

First, look closely. The return for the first four years is zero (-2%, to be exact).  The abolute gain or loss percentage is shown below and illustrates how much SIP gains can swing.

Total Gain or loss from a SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from Aug 2009 to Aug 2022
Total Gain or loss from a SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from Aug 2009 to Aug 2022

From 0% gain to 120% in about two years from Sep 2013 and 130% drop in gains from Feb 2018  to March 2020 and then another 140% gain! Then a fall and then a gain .. ad infinitum.

The percentage gain or loss for a theoretical SIP started in April 2006 is shown below. When the market started to correct in Feb 2018, the SIP was two months short of completing 12 years. About 175% of the accumulated gains were lost between Feb 2018 and  March 2020, followed by a ~ 290% gain. Then a fall and then a gain .. ad infinitum.

Total gain or loss for an MF SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2006 to Aug 2022
Total gain or loss for an MF SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2006 to Aug 2022

Where is the so-called risk averaging benefit of SIP? Well, it does not exist. You can run a SIP for 100 years and the risk will never decrease. If the market moves up, returns increase, if the market falls, returns fall.

Read more: Mutual Fund SIPs Do Not Reduce Risk! Beware of Misinformation

One can see this in a better way. The NAV of the fund and the SIP value are plotted together below. To highlight how the SIP value depends largely on the final value of the SIP (and not the “average” buying price), the two plots are normalised to their values on 30th Aug 2022.

NAV of Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2006 to Aug 2022 plotted alongside the value of SIP normalized to last business day
NAV of Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2006 to Aug 2022 plotted alongside the value of SIP normalized to the last business day

Initially, the number of units accumulated via SIP is small, and the movement is largely determined by the investment month after month. Once the value of the units accumulated is significant, the SIP returns depend on NAV movement.

This is the reason I keep talking about the SIP as filling water into a bucket on shaky ground. Imagine filling a bucket with small mugs of water. These mugs are monthly instalments. Most people worry about filling the bucket when the market is shaky (when is it not?!) or when to add the next instalment.

They fail to realise that the bucket is on shaky ground. If the bucket falls, the SIP will always result in a loss, no matter how old. That is the reason I keep saying SIPs do not reduce risk. Sales guys do not care about the shake in the bucket. They only want you to keep filling water no matter what.

Using the SIP XIRR Tracker tool, we can plot the month-after-month annualised return.

Month after Month XIRR returns from SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2009 to Aug 2022
Month after Month, XIRR returns from SIP in Sundaram Midcap Fund from April 2009 to Aug 2022

Notice that the XIRR has been falling since the end of 2014!! A 20% return after 8-9 years was reduced to about 10% after 11 years a year ago. It recovered to 17% and is now recovered to 15%. The risk never decreases in the long term unless we actively manage it, and SIP will not help in any way! Bull market or bear market lessons on risk do not change!

If you are confused, let us clarify: systematic, disciplined investing in equity is key to building wealth. SIP is just buying mutual fund units on the same date each month. SIP is not systematic investing. SIP is automated investing.

There is nothing wrong with automated investing as long as a system is in place: A clear goal, a clear asset allocation, and a clear risk management strategy. If you leave a SIP running in the hope that it will work in future, then you are leaving the fate of your investments to luck. Surely your money deserves better!

One can systematically invest each month AND systematically reduce risk in the portfolio. They are not mutually exclusive. To understand this better, you can start with this video: Basics of portfolio construction: A beginner’s guide.

Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.

🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our courses, robo-advisory tool and exclusive investor circle! 🔥& join our community of 5000+ users!
Use our Robo-advisory Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! More than 1,000 investors and advisors use this!
New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stock investments with this Google Sheet!
We also publish monthly equity mutual funds, debt and hybrid mutual funds, index funds and ETF screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners.
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel. Subscribe button courtesy: Vecteezy.
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel.
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp Channel
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp
Podcast: Let's Get RICH With PATTU! Every single Indian CAN grow their wealth! 
Listen to the Lets Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
Listen to the Let's Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
You can watch podcast episodes on the OfSpin Media Friends YouTube Channel.
Lets Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube
Let's Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube.
🔥Now Watch Let's Get Rich With Pattu தமிழில் (in Tamil)! 🔥
  • Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
  • Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter using the form below.
  • Hit 'reply' to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.

Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!

About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! More than 3,000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!   
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu Gets a Superpower!” is now available!
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower
Both the boy and girl-version covers of "Chinchu Gets a superpower".
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So, in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it, as well as teaching him several key ideas of decision-making and money management, is the narrative. What readers say!
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower (small version)
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. - Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook is for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Do you want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or get the Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & its content policy. Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified with credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions will 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 and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
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 a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is an in-depth dive into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and 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 300 (instant download)