Everything You Need to Know About Small-Cap Funds

5paisa Research Team Date: 31 May, 2023 05:10 PM IST


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Small Cap Mutual Funds

Small-cap funds are those that have a market cap of less than Rs. 5,000 crore, but SEBI has made some modifications to the definition of small-cap funds based on the below-listed rankings:

  • Large-cap funds are in the topmost 100 stocks ranked on the market cap 
  • Mid-cap funds are the next 101 to 250 ranked stocks on the market cap 
  • Small-cap funds and stocks are those that are ranked from 251 and below.

What is Small-Cap Fund?

A small-cap equity fund is an investment in the stock of companies with a market capitalization of less than Rs 5,000 crore. These companies are young and aggressively expanding, so they are technically unstable and prone to losses in the event of market turmoil.

How Does It Work?

In small-cap mutual funds, fund managers invest at least 65% of their portfolios in small-cap stocks. Small-cap stocks are usually preferred by those who don't mind risks and prefer positive returns over stability. The fund composition plays an important role in small-cap funds, and impulsive decisions may put your investment at risk.

The capitalization of the investing company is one of the key variables in deciding what to put in the equity portfolio. Small-cap funds invest in all companies expected to be in the top 250 by market capitalization. These funds are relatively riskier and more variable than other equity-focused funds in the short to medium term but promise higher returns in the long term. The share of these companies can double or triple in a very short period. However, like most investments in the market, the risk always remains.

Things to Consider Before Investing in Small-Cap Mutual Funds

Small-cap funds carry considerable risk in the market, and investors are advised to consider all factors that affect the performance of these funds. You need to think about the following factors:

  • Investment Risk: The best small-cap funds pose risks but generate fruitful returns. You must consider funds that outperform small-cap benchmarks and other small-cap funds to ensure good returns.
  • Return on Investment: Small investment trusts typically generate a high rate of return and can be a significant addition to the portfolio. With a considerable level of risk, these funds can act as a buffer in the portfolio and provide excellent value when the market is performing well.
  • Investment Costs: Small-cap equity funds are attached with costs, so your investment is well managed. This is known as the fund's cost ratio. The guidelines set by SEBI limit the fund's cost ratio to 2.50%. When choosing a fund, it's good to look at your net profit after expenses.
  • Investment Objectives: When the market falls, even the top small investment trusts can face a significant drop in returns. Therefore, if you want to get the most out of your investment, invest in long-term goals such as children's education, retirement savings, and home purchases.
  • Taxation: Capital gains realized by the redemption of small-cap funds are taxed based on the period in which the investment was held, i.e., the holding period. Capital gains from redemptions held for up to one year are called Short-Term Capital Gains (STCG) and are taxable at 15%. Gains from holding periods of more than one year are called Long-Term Capital Gains (LTCG), and for more than one lakh rupees, a 10% tax is levied on the amount.

Who Should Invest in Small-Cap Mutual Funds?

Individuals willing to take risks to get the best returns out of their portfolios should consider investing in small investment trusts. These funds offer high returns even when the market is down. But these can be hit hard if the market falls. A small-cap mutual fund portfolio requires a small structure. When investors create their equity portfolios, it is vital to have a benchmark to compare returns. Comparison with benchmarks allows investors to assess their portfolio's actual performance accurately.

Is a Small-Cap Fund Investment Better Than a Large-Cap Fund?

It has been observed that small-cap funds generally outpace market capitalization or large-cap funds for the following reasons:

  1. Small-cap funds get better when there is a recession in oil prices or when the interest rates are low.
  2. Small-cap funds are made up of stocks that are not overly diversified. They belong to a focused group that helps them grow and outperform.
  3. Small-cap funds are made up of less leveraged equities. Large-cap stocks in sectors such as energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, and metals tend to be leveraged for mature projects. Small-cap stocks are located in areas with low capital intensity.
  4. Large companies take time to deliver returns and enhance the investors' ROI, but small-cap stocks are more flexible. Because of this, the excellent performance of small-cap stocks also affects the performance of certain small-cap funds. However, it is important to understand that medium-cap funds are a slightly different ball game than a large-cap fund, as it does not have the benefits of diversification.
  5. Small-cap funds are heterogeneous, but before you invest your hard-earned money in them, make sure that the stocks are not too speculative in nature. 

The Checklist for Investing in Small-Cap Funds

There is no rigorous checklist for investing in small-cap mutual funds. However, the basic rules that small-cap mutual fund investors can effectively apply are:

1. Focus on the current account balance of the last few years
You must keep a check on the consistency of performance of small-cap funds. In contrast to large caps, small caps are very uneven. Therefore, it is less vulnerable to business cycles. These funds use bottom-up stock selection for such stocks. Thus, a few years of sustained performance can indicate great performance.

2. Make sure it is worth the risk
Look for good returns that exceed the returns of the Nifty and Sensex. After choosing a good small-cap fund, ensure that your total exposure to midcap and small-cap funds does not exceed 25% of your total exposure to equity funds.

3. Check its liquidity
CRISIL calculates liquidity scores for large, medium, and small-cap mutual funds. The current ratio represents the number of days it takes for a fund manager to close the entire portfolio without adversely affecting the price. The liquidity ratio for large-cap funds is approximately 1.3 days, while the liquidity ratio for medium-cap funds is 9-11 days, and 25 days for small-cap funds. The lower the current ratio, the better. Given the options, the core management team always prefers small-cap mutual funds that are relatively stable.

4. Verify its stability
Only the consistency of the fund management team can guarantee the consistency of such performance. Constant cancellations should be avoided in the case of small-cap mutual funds.

5. The bear market effect
Small-cap mutual funds vary depending on the volatility and performance in the bear market or down market. Small-cap mutual funds usually give better results in good markets, so any fund manager can perform diligently during a recession and stand out.

6. Availability
The quantity of high-quality small-cap stocks available on the market is limited. Keep this in mind when allocating funds for small-cap stocks.

Benefits of Investing in a Small-Cap Fund

  1. High growth potential: Investments are made in start-ups or emerging organizations with room for expansion and diversification. Thus, small-cap funds have high growth potential.
  2. Undervalued assets: Small businesses are undervalued because they are rarely found. Because of this, the small-cap mutual funds are a good investment choice and are great for investors who don't mind taking risks. 
  3. Diversification effect: Adding small-cap mutual funds to the entire portfolio helps to balance the risk-reward trade-off. As a result, you can reduce the risk and diversify your investment through these funds.
  4. Possibility of M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions): For small businesses, the possibility of M&A is high. You can either get them or merge them with a larger counterpart to grow them. As a result, the stock price of small businesses can rise, and ultimately the value of small-cap mutual funds can increase.
  5. Liquidity: Small businesses are rarely traded on the stock exchange. This is beneficial to investors. When a company's earnings are disclosed by management, many investors can chase the stock, leading to rapidly rising prices.

How to Invest in a Small-Cap Equity Fund?

Follow these steps to invest in the best small-cap funds, which is a paperless and hassle-free process:

Step 1: Log in to an official portal and enter your personal, professional, and financial details (as asked).
Step 2: Complete the eKYC. If you are asked to upload your documents like your PAN or ID proof, you must do that immediately.
Step 3: Invest in the chosen small-cap fund from carefully selected investment trusts, analyzing it from different angles.
Step 4: Before you decide to invest money, it is helpful to keep in mind financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment duration.


You can easily invest in a fund carefully selected by in-house experts. After analyzing your long-term economic needs, you can expand your portfolio by investing in small-cap funds. You should invest only after gaining enough knowledge about the financial markets or having experts guide you about your risks and returns

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