Best Index Funds for 2024

Best Index funds for 2024
Best Index funds for 2024

by Tanushree Jaiswal Last Updated: Jan 18, 2024 - 09:36 am 2.4k Views
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Are you a newbie investor eager to start your investment journey? Are you afraid of the investment lingo but want returns higher than FD? 

 Well, you are at the right place my friend as we have the perfect solution – index funds!

Index funds are the safest investment option available to investors if they are looking to invest in equity markets. If you find yourself confused by financial jargon and do not want to put a lot of effort into researching funds and investment options, Index funds are the best investment option for you.

Excitingly, these funds have been performing exceptionally well, with returns soaring over 30% since the tumultuous stock market crash of 2020.

Before we delve into the top index funds of 2024, let's demystify the allure of index funds and understand why they stand out as a smart choice amidst the vast array of mutual funds. Ready for a financial adventure? Let's explore!

Index Funds

Index funds, whether categorized as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), are specifically designed to replicate the components of a particular stock market index, such as Sensex or Nifty50. These funds construct portfolios that precisely mirror the composition of the chosen index, holding the same stocks in the same proportions.

To visualize this, think of an index fund as a miniature replica of a full-sized building. This scaled-down model represents a segment of the market being tracked, faithfully replicating the original structure's proportions.

For example, if an index fund is tracking the NSE Nifty Index, it will maintain a portfolio of 50 stocks, with each stock assigned a specific weightage according to the stock market, mirroring the proportions of the index. The fund's overall performance is intricately tied to the performance of the actual stocks in the market.

Index funds play a crucial role in portfolio diversification, a strategy where investments are spread across various types of assets and securities to mitigate risk. By investing in an index fund, you gain exposure to a diversified range of stocks in the market.

The primary objective of index investing is to replicate the returns of the underlying index rather than attempting to outperform it. Index funds hold the same stocks in the same proportions as the index they track, contrasting with actively managed funds where a fund manager selects individual stocks.

Index funds achieve this replication by investing in all the stocks within the index they're tracking, making them more passive compared to actively managed funds. They track the index's returns by holding the same stocks in the same weightage. For instance, if the Nifty-50 designates HDFC Bank with a 10% weightage, the index fund tracking the Nifty-50 will also allocate 10% of its portfolio to HDFC Bank.

Index funds aim to provide returns consistent with the benchmark index they follow. If the index rises, the value of the index fund should increase, and if the index falls, the fund's value should also decrease.

In the context of the Indian market, index funds offer cost advantages as they do not require an extensive team of researchers and portfolio managers for constant market monitoring. Consequently, index funds are often more cost-effective than many actively managed mutual funds.

Despite the benefits, it's important to recognize some drawbacks of index funds:

Market Mimicry

Index funds closely follow the performance of the chosen index, which can limit their ability to outperform the market, especially when compared to actively managed funds.

Focus on Large-Cap Companies: Index funds mainly invest in large-cap companies, which, while stable, might have restricted growth potential as these companies are already well-established.

High Valuations: Investing in high-market-cap companies can lead to elevated Price/Earnings (P/E) ratios. This might result in trades at higher valuations, potentially missing opportunities to find undervalued companies.

If you're looking for a hassle-free investment strategy, index funds could be a good fit. Consider your commitment to investing, research, and staying informed about the market. If you prefer a predictable return with minimal effort, index funds might align well with your investment goals.

On the other hand, actively managed funds might be better for experienced investors or those willing to spend time learning about investments. If you aim to outperform the market and are comfortable with a higher level of risk, actively managed funds, guided by a fund manager, could be more suitable.

Choosing the Right Index Fund

Benchmark Index Selection: Pick the benchmark index that matches your risk tolerance and return expectations. For higher potential returns, you might consider the Nifty Small Cap Fund, while the Nifty 50 could be a good fit if you're seeking lower risk.

Investment Tenure Analysis: Different funds may be suitable for varying investment durations. Compare returns over your preferred time frame to better understand fund performance.

Tracking Error Evaluation: Assess the tracking error, which indicates the difference between the fund's return and the benchmark index. A significant tracking error may suggest poorly executed trades or a highly volatile benchmark.

Expense Ratio Scrutiny: While not the only factor, the expense ratio, typically below 0.5% for index funds, can significantly impact overall returns. Keep an eye on this as part of your fund analysis.

Now, Let's check out the different types of index funds you can find in India:

Nifty 50 Index Funds: These mimic the Nifty 50 Index, showing the top 50 big companies on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in India.

Nifty Mid Cap Index Funds:These follow the Nifty Midcap 150 Index, which includes medium-sized companies listed on the NSE. These are neither too big nor too small.

Sensex Index Funds: These copy the performance of the Sensex or BSE 30, keeping an eye on the top 30 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Nifty Small Cap Index Funds: These might imitate the Nifty Smallcap 250 Index, covering smaller companies on the NSE. These companies are usually smaller in size compared to medium and large ones.

Global Index Funds:These aim to match the performance of global indices, letting you invest in international markets. Examples include the S&P 500 for the U.S. market or the MSCI World Index for a worldwide view.

And now, drumroll, please! Let's unveil the gems - the top index funds of 2024:

Fund Name

Fund Size (in Cr)

Expense Ratio

1 Yr Returns
Motilal Oswal S&P BSE Low Volatility Index Fund ₹33.67 0.43% 32.3%
UTI Nifty 50 Index Fund Direct-Growth ₹15,002.04 0.2% 23.95%
HDFC Index Fund Nifty 50 Plan ₹11,887.46 0.4% 23.69%
SBI Nifty Index Direct Plan-Growth ₹5,927.12 0.18% 23.95%

To sum it up, index funds are a reliable and affordable way to invest. However, it's important to know their downsides. Even though they offer stability by mimicking the index, they might not do better than actively managed funds.

Therefore while choosing the investment option, focus on the benchmark index, how long you plan to invest, and the cost, instead of just following what everyone else is doing.

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About the Author

Tanushree is a seasoned professional with 6 years of experience in the Fintech and Edtech industry.

Disclaimer

Investment/Trading in securities Market is subject to market risk, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. The risk of loss in trading and investment in Securities markets including Equites and Derivatives can be substantial.
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