How the Different NPS Fund Houses have performed over the Past 3 years
As outlined in the article introducing the NPS, there are several Fund Managers that an investor can choose from when he/she opens the NPS Account. Each of these fund managers may choose to invest in a different set of instruments and hence the returns will not be uniform. As a general categorization, the NPS Fund Managers manage 3 categories of funds in Tier 1:
a. Category E – Equities
b. Category C – Corporate Bonds
c. Category G – Government Securities
Different Fund Managers have performed differently in each of the above categories. After gathering details about the performance of each of the different fund managers, I have shortlisted the best or rather top 3 performers in each category over a 3 year time period. They are:
Equities – Category E Funds:
1. Kotak – 6.82%
2. ICICI Prudential – 6.43%
3. IDFC – 4.98%
Category Average Returns = 5.58%
Corporate Bonds – Category C Funds:
1. Kotak – 12.05%
2. ICICI Prudential – 11.59%
3. IDFC – 9.24%
Category Average Returns = 9.97%
Government Securities – Category G Funds:
1. Kotak – 7.95%
2. ICICI Prudential – 7.7%
3. UTI – 7.5%
Category Average Returns = 7.32%
All returns above are over a 3 year period. Don’t be amazed by the dismal returns generated by the Equity funds. The Indian stock market has been extremely volatile over the past few years and a positive returns % indicates the fact that the fund managers have done a great job.
As you can see, the funds managed by Kotak and ICICI Prudential have been the top 2 in all of the categories.
Is the NPS Scheme Popular?
The simple answer would be – NO…
If you wish to dispute this claim and say that NPS is popular, stop for a moment and give me an answer to this question – “Do you have an NPS Account?” The answer you will give in response to this question is the answer to the question above as well…
Problem No. 1: Have you seen any advertisement by any fund house about the performance of their funds in NPS? For ex: the schemes managed by Kotak Pension Fund have churned out the best possible returns in all the 3 categories. ICICI Pru has been the 2nd best performer. So, given this fact, have either of these two fund houses advertised their success? This whole phenomenal success has gone almost unnoticed. Nobody publicized the fact that their schemes in NPS were successful. Whereas, the same Kotak and ICICI Pru fund houses always advertise their best performing Mutual Fund Schemes. Why this disparity???
Problem No. 2: Have you seen anybody trying to sell NPS Schemes to investors? The NPS has approx. 25 lakh investors out of which almost everyone is from State & Central Government for whom NPS is compulsory. The distributors are not selling NPS at all. In fact, less than 50,000 people have voluntarily invested in NPS in the past 3 years. Why do you think this is happening?
Why Fund Managers are not advertising their Schemes in NPS?
The simple answer is – MONEY!!!
The fees that fund managers receive for managing the NPS schemes is nothing short of dismal. The fund management charge is 0.0009% which means, a fund manager get Rs. 9/- for managing Rs.10,00,000/- for one year. The average fee for managing a similar number in Mutual funds works out to a 4 digit number and the same for ULIPs is a 5 digit number.
Why Distributors are not selling NPS Schemes?
The simple answer to this question too is – MONEY!!!
I could not find the actual commission/fee that Distributors get for selling NPS but I would assume it will be around the same range as what the fund managers get. If the fee the person who manages the money (Fund Manager) is only Rs. 9/- for a 10 lakh investment, what do you think the distributor will get for selling NPS Schemes? Distributors feel that the profits they earn out of selling this low-cost scheme does not justify the amount of money or resources that go into selling it.
What is being done to fix this?
The PFRDA has been contemplating increasing these fee & commission charges that the distributors and fund managers receive for dealing with NPS. Hopefully this upward revision of fee will be the much needed boost to both the fund managers as well as distributors to take NPS Seriously.
However, a point to note here is that, no concrete numbers have been released by the PFRDA yet. However, it is expected to come out very soon. But, experts from the industry feel that the number would be around 0.25% (Rs. 2,500/- per Rs. 10 lakhs) which is a sizeable increase when compared to the current dismal figures.
Will this affect the Investor?
Of Course, it will. However, the impact will be almost negligible. Mutual Funds charge around 1-2% per year and ULIP’s charge even more. If we consider a 0.25% fee for the fund manager and the same for the distributor, for every 10 lakhs you invest, 9.95 lakhs is going to be effectively invested which is much higher than what happens in the case of Mutual Funds or ULIPs. So, it is safe to say that the impact will be very minimal.
How Increasing the Fee’s will help?
First of all, if the fee fund managers get is reasonable for the effort they spend managing the money, they will start advertising the fact that they are managing X Crores of money for NPS. Second of all, if distributors can make a reasonable income by selling NPS products, they will start advertising as well as selling NPS Schemes to investors. So, it will be a WIN-WIN Scenario.
Is National Pension Scheme (NPS) A Worthwhile Investment Option?
Of Course – YES.
Frankly speaking, the NPS Schemes are managed by the same expert fund managers who manage the top mutual fund schemes of India. So performance wise it would be safe to say that NPS schemes will fare at around the same level as regular mutual funds.
More importantly, the fee’s charged by NPS is the least in the industry. Even if we assume a 0.25% fund management fee and a 0.25% distributor fee, the overall fee’s paid works out to less than 1%. The fees and charges for Mutual Funds and ULIP’s or other Pension Plans is much higher. So, effectively more of our money will get invested and in turn, we will get better returns.
To further substantiate my claim that NPS is a better investment option than a ULIP Pension Plan – due to the lower fee structure, the next article is going to be a comparison in terms of overall returns between the NPS and ULIP Pension Plans.
If you are still not too sure if the NPS is a good investment option in comparison to the regular ULIP Pension Plans that are being sold aggressively, just relax, the feeling is very common. The next article will be a simple returns comparison between the two products to help you decide...