Bond Fund

What is Bond Fund?

The bond fund, also known as a debt fund or an income fund, is a mutual fund that invests in bonds and other debt securities paying dividends periodically and not actually possessing any maturity date, unlike individual bonds. It basically pools the money of investors with an objective to generate them a stream of income by investing in mainly fixed income securities like government securities, bonds, debentures, debt securities, fixed deposits, etc.

These funds usually invest in the following:

  1. Short-term investments – for those investors with an investment horizon of a year or less.
  2. Medium to Long-term investments– for those investors with an investment horizon of 3 or more years.
  3. Government securities – for investors with no appetite for default risk and hence considered to be the safest.
  4. Bonds are having short-term and long-term maturities, also known as dynamic bond funds.
Bond-Fund

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Source: Bond Fund (wallstreetmojo.com)

How does the Bond Fund Work?

  • After the pooling of funds of investors, the fund manager who is in charge invests all the funds so obtained in fixed income securities, bonds, etc. as mentioned above, depending on the type of investors forming the pool. Usually, investment is made in established institutions with high credit ratings.
  • The main objective of the fund is to optimize the income and earnings and to minimize the credit and default risk of principal and also interest payments.
  • There are majorly two sources of income for bond fund investors. The first being capital appreciation, wherein it is the rise in the Net Asset value over some time.
    The second source of income is dividend income. The dividend is paid out at certain intervals of time, which depends on the surplus funds available.

Example

Let us consider the example of the HDFC Corporate bond fund with the NIFTY Corporate bond index as the benchmark for the fund. The suggested investment period of the bond says 6-12 months. It would be an open-ended scheme investing in moderately risky bonds. The investment pattern would be well-diversified, say investing 80% of the amount of fund, at the very least, in bonds with a credit rating of AAA and above.

The objective of such funds would be to generate income and expect capital appreciationCapital AppreciationCapital appreciation refers to an increase in the market value of assets relative to their purchase price over a specified time period. Stocks, land, buildings, fixed assets, and other types of owned property are examples of assets.read more through such investment patterns.

Types of Bond Funds

#1 – Corporate Bonds

These types of funds invest in corporate bonds. Many further classifications are depending on the risk appetiteThe Risk AppetiteRisk appetite refers to the amount, rate, or percentage of risk that an individual or organization (as determined by the Board of Directors or management) is willing to accept in exchange for its plan, objectives, and innovation.read more and investment-grade variety (based on credit rating).

#2 – Government Bonds

They are the safest type of funds because there is a government guarantee.

#3 – Municipal/Local Authority Bonds

Investment in bonds issued by state governments, local authorities, municipal agencies, etc. shall result in tax exemptionsTax ExemptionsTax-exempt refers to excluding an individual's or corporation's income, property or transaction from the tax liability imposed by the federal, local or state government. These exemptions either allow total relief from the taxes or provide reduced rates or charge tax on some items only.read more.

Differences Between Bonds and Bond Funds

Point of DifferenceBondsBond Funds
Rate of InterestFixed-rate of Interest provided the bonds are held to maturity, and the issuer does not default.The exact effective rate of interestEffective Rate Of InterestEffective Interest Rate, also called Annual Equivalent Rate, is the actual rate of interest that a person pays or earns on a financial instrument by considering the compounding interest over a given period.read more is often difficult to determine because there is less control over the investment process.
DiversificationHardInvests in bonds in a diversified way.
CostsComparatively costlier.Investing in such funds is far less expensive than buying individual bonds.
Control Over MaturityBonds have a fixed maturity date.There is no specific date when the funds mature, and the investors would receive what they have invested. It has a price and can be sold at any point in time.

Advantages

  1. From the investor’s viewpoint, these are lucrative compared to bonds because it is easier to partake in bond funds than in individual bonds solely.
  2. The transaction costs need not be paid as high as those in the case of individual bonds.
  3. Because this fund is a conglomerate of many bonds, in case of default of payment by one kind of bond, the impact would be lesser.
  4. There is an added advantage of diversification wherein even a lower investment would be diversified in the portfolio, which is not possible in individual funds.
  5. Though there is no particular date of maturity, the investor can withdraw at any point in time by receiving the Net Asset Value (NAV).
  6. For these, some professionals handle and manage the portfolio that continually analyzes the portfolio.
  7. Income generated from bonds is automatically reinvested, and the value of the funds hence keeps appreciating.

Disadvantages

  1. The bond funds, like bonds, react to interest rates prevailing in the market. The lower rate in the market increases the bond demand, and hence the bond price rises. On the contrary, if the interest rate rises, the demand would fall.
  2. The fee structure depends on the mutual fund company, their specialization in a particular product, and their regulations.
  3. The dividend payments are variable, unlike individual bond interest payments.
  4. It may not always be open to all investors. After reaching a threshold or at the discretion of the fund manager, they may close the fund to new investors.

Conclusion

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to What is a Bond Fund & its Definition. Here we discuss the types of bond fund and how does it work along with and examples, advantages and disadvantages. You can learn more about from the following articles –

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