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Tata Capital > Blog > What Is the Difference Between Equity and Debt Fund?

What Is the Difference Between Equity and Debt Fund?

What Is the Difference Between Equity and Debt Fund?

Mutual funds are synonymous with risk-free investment and wealth creation. And when it comes to investing in one, you have two options – equity and debt mutual funds. Both mutual fund types are quite popular because they cater to the distinct investing needs of different investors. 

If you are new to mutual fund investments, you may wonder whether to invest in equity or debt funds. That is why it is essential to understand the difference between debt and equity mutual funds so you can make your investments worthwhile. 

In this blog, we will explore the difference between debt and equity mutual funds. We will also help you pick the right mutual fund to realize your investing goals. So, let’s dive straight in. 

What are equity funds?

Equity mutual funds primarily invest your money in shares of companies and related securities like futures, options, etc., trading in the stock market. According to the Securities Exchange Board of India an equity fund must invest at least 65% of the corpus into companies’ equity. 

These funds aim to generate returns by investing in the ownership of businesses. And, since equity funds invest in stocks that trade in the stock exchange, their value fluctuates with the performance of the underlying assets and the stock market. 

Equity funds are generally more popular among investors because they generate higher returns compared to other mutual fund types. They are also the perfect option if you want to invest your money for the long term. 

But as mentioned earlier, their returns depend on the performance of the shares in the stock market. They are more volatile to the impacts of market conditions and government policies. As a result, they carry significant risks as well. 

Key features of equity funds

1. These funds invest at least 65% of the investors’ money into shares.

2. Returns on your equity fund investment depend on the performance of underlying shares, stock market trends, and government policies. 

3. Returns are in the form of capital appreciation and dividends.

4. You pay a 15% short-term capital gains tax if you sell your units within one year, regardless of your income tax slab. 

5. You can claim tax deductions on long-term capital gains of under Rs 1 lakh. 

What are debt funds?

As the name suggests, debt mutual funds invest your money in debt or fixed-income securities like bonds, debentures, government securities, and money market securities like treasury bills, commercial papers, etc. 

Unlike shares in equity funds, the underlying credit instruments of debt funds are not exposed to market fluctuations. As a result, they are particularly popular among investors with a lower risk appetite.  

Returns you earn are in form of interest payments. However, it is important to note that returns are lower than equity funds, but they are stable. So mutual funds are ideal if you want a regular stream of income. 

Besides, debt funds are a better option than keeping your money in a savings account or a fixed deposit if you have a short-term or medium-term investment horizon.

Key features of debt funds

1. Debt funds primarily invest in fixed-income securities like debentures, bonds, and money market securities. 

2. They offer comparatively lower returns than equity funds.

3. Returns on debt investments depend on prevailing interest rates and the quality of underlying securities. 

4. As of April 1, 2023, debt funds are taxed as per the investors’ income tax slabs, irrespective of the holding period. 

5. No tax benefits are available. 

Difference between debt and equity funds: a head-to-head comparison

Let’s make a detailed equity vs debt investments comparison so you can pick the best mutual fund to invest your money in.

Points of comparison Equity fundsDebt funds
Underlying investmentThese funds invest in shares of companies and related securities like futures, options, etc.These funds invest in fixed-income securities like bonds, debentures, government securities, and money market securities
Ideal investment tenureLong-term investment (over five years)Short-term as well as long term investment
Level of returnsPotential to earn higher returnsLower but stable returns compared to equity funds
Returns Capital appreciation and dividendsInterest payments
Risk involvedHigh risk investment Low risk investment 
Impact of market Returns and value fluctuates due to stock market Returns depend on interest rates and debt quality
Volatility Highly volatile investment Stable investment
Taxation15% short-term capital gains tax on funds held for less than a year.
10% long-term capital gains tax if units are sold after a year. 
Debt funds are taxed at slab rates per the investor’s income. 
Tax savingCapital gains of up to Rs 1 lakh are exempt from long-term capital gains tax.No tax savings are available.

Equity vs debt funds: Which mutual fund should you invest in?

Now that the difference between debt and equity mutual funds is clear, which is the perfect investment for you? 

Before making a decision, assess your financial station and risk appetite, and clearly lay out your investment goals

For instance, suppose you are investing to build a corpus for a long-term goal like retirement. At the same time, you are willing to keep your money locked in for extended periods and can deal with the ups and downs of the share market. In such a situation, equity funds are the perfect investment instrument. 

However, if you want to avoid exposing your investment to stock market risks, you should invest in debt funds. Besides, they are also perfect if you want to earn returns at a stable rate, irrespective of your investment horizon. 

Ideally, you should aim to diversify your portfolio regardless of your investment type. For instance, you can invest 60%-70% of your money in equity funds and remaining in debt funds. That way, you can generate regular income from debt funds and benefit from the growth potential of equity funds. 

Diversification allows you to balance the overall risk. When the equity market faces a downturn, debt funds can reduce the volatility of your portfolio and vice-versa.

Grow your wealth with Tata Capital Moneyfy 

If you have made up your mind reading this equity vs debt fund comparison, turn to Tata Capital Moneyfy. We are India’s leading investment platform with top-performing equity, debt, and hybrid mutual funds from over 40 AMCs. With Moneyfy, you can invest in mutual funds online starting at just Rs 100.

Visit the Tata Capital Moneyfy website or download the Moneyfy iOS app and start investing today!

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