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( As on 11/09/2017 15:24) Equity MF inflows at record Rs 20K-cr in Aug

Equity mutual funds registered a record inflow of Rs 20,362 crore in August on strong participation from retail investors and steps taken by markets regulator Sebi to create awareness about such investment products.

This also marks the seventeenth straight month of inflows into equity schemes. Prior to that, such funds had witnessed a pullout of Rs 1,370 crore in March 2016.

The strong inflows have pushed the asset base of equity mutual funds (MFs) by more than 2 per cent to Rs 6.44 lakh crore at the end of August from Rs 6.3 lakh crore in the preceding month.

According to data of the Association of Mutual Funds in India (Amfi), equity funds, which also include equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS), saw net inflows of Rs 20,362 crore in August, higher than Rs 12,727 crore in the preceding month.

"The correction in equity markets in August failed to dampen the spirits of investors as equity mutual funds saw accelerated net inflows in the month. A strong SIP book and 'dip buying' by investors resulted in strong net inflows in equity funds," Bajaj Capital CEO Rahul Parikh said.

Kaustubh Belapurkar, Director (Manager Research) at Morningstar is of the view that last three years, especially 2016, have been characterised by large inflows into equity with increasing participation from retail investors.

"We have witnessed spectacular increase of flows into mutual funds, especially equity funds since demonetisation announcement. While this cannot solely be attributed to the effects of demonetisation, but to a culmination of the combined efforts of the entire industry value chain to reach out to the investors and educating them on the benefits of investing," he said.

The flow of money into formal economy post demonetisation has further helped in increasing the attractiveness of mutual funds as an investment avenue.

Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) have been the preferred route for retail investors to invest in mutual funds as it helps them reduce market timing risk.

At present, the industry receives about Rs 5,000 crore per month through SIPs -- an investment vehicle that allows investors to invest in small amounts periodically instead of lump sums. The frequency of investment is usually weekly, monthly or quarterly.

"Another heartening trend is that unlike earlier market corrections, in the market correction of November 2016, significant flows came into equity funds and continued to come in through the months after. This can be attributed to increasing awareness and maturity levels of investors. Domestic flows have acted a counterbalance to volatile foreign flows through the year," Belapurkar said.

Over the last few years, Sebi has been taking measures to increase MF penetration in smaller cities and getting newer investors into the fold by allowing for an additional 30 basis points expense and 2 basis points towards investors' education.

Overall, the assets under management (AUM) of the MF industry, comprising 42 players, reached to an all time high of Rs 20.6 lakh crore in August-end from Rs 19.97 lakh crore at the end of July.