With the massive rally in the equity markets since March 2020 and the high valuations of stocks, investors are looking for more investment avenues.
Fixed-income securities are sought out to be the perfect investment avenue that provides portfolio diversification, flexibility, and higher interest rates.
Investment Tools Beyond Traditional Fixed Deposits;
- Bond ETFs
Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) track the underlying asset classes like equity, fixed income, commodities, etc. By now, everyone is pretty familiar with equity-linked ETFs that track the respective index or basket of stocks.
ETFs that invest in bonds and are tradable on the stock exchange are comparatively new to the investor community. Since Bond ETFs are passive funds, they offer combined benefits of liquidity, transparency, and cost-efficiency. They track underlying bond indices – PSU, government, or corporate bonds.
There are Target Maturity Bond ETFs that have defined maturities like three years, five years, or ten years. Investments in this defined maturity ETFs can help meet your medium to long-term financial goals.
- Market Linked Debentures
As the name suggests, MLDs are debt instruments issued by corporate entities whose returns are linked to the performance of bond markets. Unlike plain-vanilla bonds, MLDs do not pay any coupons before maturity. The pay-off on maturity consists of principal repayment and market-linked returns. Gains on MLDs are taxed like equity. Long-term capital gains for securities held for more than one year are taxed at 10%.
MLDs are rated by credit rating agencies which helps you know the borrower’s creditworthiness. Investing in high-rated debentures has the potential to generate higher returns.
MLDs are no longer an investment avenue accessible only to ultra HNIs. Your wealth manager can help you understand the nuances of MLDs, and you can invest starting with a minimum investment value as low as Rs 10,000.
- Non-Convertible Debentures
NCDs are fixed maturity and fixed interest rate debt instruments that cannot be converted to equity. The interest payment frequency – monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually is specified at issuance. NCDs cannot be withdrawn before maturity; however, they can be sold in the secondary market.
NCDs can be secured or unsecured. The issuers’ assets back secured NCDs, and the entity is obligated to repay the borrowed amount. On the other hand, unsecured NCDs do not guarantee repayment of the principal amount if the company goes bankrupt.
Investing in NCDs is wholly dependent on your risk appetite. You can opt for secured NCDs with high credit ratings if you have a lower risk appetite. It is important to note that NCDs can earn higher returns and are not risk-free and tax-free assets.
- Corporate Fixed Deposits
Corporate FDs are term fixed deposits offered by corporate entities and NBFCs. They offer higher interest rates as compared to traditional FDs and savings accounts. Corporate FDs are rated by credit rating agencies that help you analyze their financial stability to repay the lenders.
Corporate Fixed Deposits have the flexibility to select the tenure ranging from 12 months to 60 months. They are liquid as you can avail loan against the FDs or exit during times of emergency.
Cumulative Fixed Deposits have the power of compounding as the interest earned is reinvested during the tenure. Non-cumulative FDs are a source of regular income. The interest payout frequency – monthly, quarterly, or yearly- can be selected according to your income requirements.
Floating Rate Government of India Bonds
The Reserve Bank of India issues GOI bonds when the government borrows money. They pay coupons at periodic intervals as specified during issuance. They can be bought for long-term financial goals since they have a lock-in period of seven years. They are safest for the risk-averse investor as they provide capital protection and regular interest income. Since these issues are fast-filling and available for a limited period, investors need to keep track of fresh issues.
Transition in Interest Rate Scenario
All Central Banks adopted an accommodative stance to help the world recover from economic setbacks due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Lower interest rates increased liquidity in the markets resulting in inflationary pressure. With the revival in demand, Central Banks started contemplating liquidity tightening measures in 2021.
Now, as a large part of the population has been vaccinated and governments have better preparedness for handling different mutations of the virus, it will not be too far that central banks may start raising interest rates. The recent volatility in equity markets reflects the anticipation of the rise in interest rates. It is a good time to diversify your portfolio in fixed-income securities to take advantage of the transition phase in 2022.
by, Anshul Gupta, co-founder of Wint Wealth