A portfolio that is diversified not just across asset classes but spread across geographies with adequate allocation can mitigate the overall risk. Given the current market environment and the nature of world economy, it is prudent for investors to consider investing in markets outside India. US Equity markets have been one of the most developed markets in the world. A low correlation between the equity market of US and India certainly makes the case for Indian investors taking the US route.

The advantage of global diversification and allocation to developed markets, such as the US equity market, is that corporations are spread across different economies and hence, investments are significantly more insulated in case a market nosedives in any one country.

Several Indian fund houses have been aiming to launch international funds that provide retail and HNI investors with global exposure and international diversification in particular sectors or themes in the developed markets. Such international funds will help Indian investors participate in stocks and sectors that are otherwise unavailable in India. Indian investors now have another option to consider passive investment in international funds.

Navi Mutual Fund has launched its third passively managed scheme this year, i.e. Navi US Total Stock Market Fund of Fund after the Navi Nifty Next 50 Index Fund and Navi Nifty Bank Index Fund in January 2022, both of which are low-cost index funds.

The scheme is an open-ended fund of fund investing in units of the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or in the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX). This is currently the only fund in India that gives investors an opportunity to invest in Vanguard.

The Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF is the 3rd largest ETF in the world. It has $1.3 trillion in assets, which is 10% of all assets in US stock mutual funds & ETFs.

Most of the US-focused index funds currently offered in India have NASDAQ 100 as their benchmark, a large cap index with a higher exposure to the technology sector. The underlying scheme tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index that offers exposure across multiple sectors.

On the launch of this fund, Mr Sachin Bansal, Co-founder of the Navi Group said, “Navi is excited to be able to give Indian investors an opportunity to invest in Vanguard, a global pioneer of the low-cost index fund. The Navi US Total Stock Market Fund of Fund will, for the first time, give Indian retail investors a convenient and low-cost means to participate in the entire US stock market. Our goal is to keep providing new investment opportunities to investors at the best possible cost.”

Table 1: Details of Navi US Total Stock Market FoF

Type An open-ended fund of fund investing in units of the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or in the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX). Category Fund of Fund (Overseas)
Investment Objective The investment objective of the scheme is to provide long-term capital appreciation by investing in units of the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or in the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX). However, there is no assurance that the investment objective of the Scheme will be realized.
Min. Investment Rs 500 and in multiples of Re 1/- thereafter. Additional Purchase Rs 100 and in multiples of Re 1/- thereafter. Face Value Rs 10/- per unit
SIP/STP/SWP Available
Plans
  • Direct
  • Regular
Options
  • Growth
Entry Load Not Applicable Exit Load NIL
Fund Manager Mr. Hari Shyamsunder Benchmark Index CRSP US Total Market Index
Issue Opens February 04, 2022 Issue Closes February 18, 2022

(Source: Scheme Information Document)  

The investment strategy for Navi US Total Stock Market FoF will be as follows:

Navi US Total Stock Market FoF follows a passive investment strategy and will predominantly invest in units of the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or in the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX). The investment strategy would largely be passive. The fund managers will monitor the tracking error of the scheme on an ongoing basis and seek to minimize it.

The scheme does not make any judgments about the investment merit of Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF or in the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX), nor will it attempt to apply any economic, financial or market analysis. The CRSP US Total Market Index, the benchmark for the Vanguard ETF, is a well-diversified, comprehensive, and broader index having exposure to multiple sectors.

A small portion of the net assets will be held as cash or will be invested in debt and money market instruments permitted by SEBI/RBI, including TREPS, or in alternative investment for the TREPS as may be provided by the RBI to meet the liquidity requirements under the scheme. However, there is no assurance that all such buying and selling activities would necessarily result in benefit for the Fund.

Under normal circumstances, the Asset Allocation will be as under:

Table 2: Asset Allocation for Navi US Total Stock Market FoF

Instruments Indicative Allocation (% of net assets) Risk Profile
Minimum Maximum High/Medium/Low
Units of units of the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) or the Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX) 95 100 High
Debt schemes, Debt & Money Market Instruments, including Tri Party Repo^, G-Secs and Cash 0 5 Low to Medium

^or similar instruments as may be permitted by RBI / SEBI Money Market instruments includes commercial papers, commercial bills, treasury bills, Government securities having an unexpired maturity up to one year, call or notice money, certificate of deposit, usance bills.

(Source: Scheme Information Document)  

About the benchmark

The CRSP US Total Market Index comprises of nearly early 4,000 constituents across mega, large, small, and micro capitalizations, representing nearly 100% of the U.S. investable equity market. The total return index was first posted on the NASDAQ GIDSSM (Global Index Data ServiceSM) feed on December 31, 2012; the price return index was posted on January 18, 2011.

The investable CRSP indexes capture broad U.S. equity market coverage and include securities traded on NYSE, NYSE American, NYSE ARCA, NASDAQ, Bats Global Markets, and the Investors Exchange.

Who will manage Navi US Total Stock Market FoF?

The designated fund manager for this scheme is Mr. Hari Shyamsunder, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) who holds Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B.E. (Mechanical Engineering) from National Institute of Technology, Trichy. He has over 16 years of experience and he was associated with Franklin Templeton Asset Management as Co-Fund Manager, Research Analyst and BG India (Indian Subsidiary of oil & gas major BG Group) as Business Analyst, before joining Navi Mutual Fund.

At Navi Mutual Fund, Mr. Shyamsunder currently manages Navi Equity Hybrid Fund, Navi Ultra Short Term Fund, Navi Regular Savings Fund, Navi Liquid Fund, Navi Large & Midcap Fund, Navi Large Cap Equity Fund, Navi 3 in 1 Fund, Navi Long Term Advantage Fund, and Navi Flexi Cap Fund.

Fund Outlook – Navi US Total Stock Market FoF

Navi US Total Stock Market FoF will aim to passively invest in the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) which tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index comprising over 4000 stocks and represents nearly the entire investable US Equity Market. The scheme will invest in units of the underlying fund and generate parallel returns, subject to tracking errors.

The underlying scheme is a Total Market ETF that invests in US equities across market caps including mid-cap, small-cap, and micro-cap companies. It holds considerable allocation in major corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla.

The FoF scheme offers low correlation with Indian equities and USD appreciation increases the performance in INR. USD has appreciated 1.53 times in the past ten years. Indian investors may gain from the depreciation of the rupee versus the dollar. The scheme allows investors to participate in 4000+ stocks from the US equity market and offers global diversification benefit to gain attractive returns.

Being a Fund of Fund, the fortune of Navi US Total Stock Market FoF will closely depend on the performance of the underlying scheme. Although the fund offers a potential hedge against the depreciation of INR vs USD and over the domestic challenges with global investing opportunities, it is prone to certain risks. The scheme passively invests in US equities, which are considered highly risky investments in foreign securities attracts geopolitical risk, currency risk, and other macroeconomic risks.

In addition, the threat of the Delta plus Omicron variant and the US Federal Reserve’s plans of tightening their monetary policy pose a major risk to global economic growth; it has spooked markets globally, including the US markets. These, among many other factors, may affect the scheme’s performance, and the portfolio may face higher volatility in the near term. The scheme commands a high risk in the riskometer.

Thus, this scheme is suitable only for aggressive investors seeking an exposure to the US equity market and aim to provide international allocation to their portfolio. Ensure a high-risk appetite, long investment horizon of at least 5-7 years and your investment objectives align with the fund.

This article first appeared on PersonalFN here


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