What is a Systematic Transfer Plan in Mutual Funds?

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  • 25 Sep 2023

In mutual funds, investors often seek strategies that can help them maximize returns while managing risks effectively. One such strategy is the Systematic Transfer Plan (STP). So, what is STP, its types, and benefits? Let's find out.

A STP is a disciplined investment strategy offered by mutual fund companies. It allows investors to transfer a predetermined amount of money from one mutual fund scheme (usually a debt or liquid fund) to another (usually an equity fund) at regular intervals. The primary objective of an STP is to make the most of market volatility and reduce the timing risk associated with lump-sum investments.

STPs come in various forms, each catering to different investor needs and preferences. Here are the primary types of STPs in mutual funds:

  • Fixed STP

In a fixed STP, the investor transfers a fixed amount of money from the source fund to the target fund regularly. This fixed amount remains constant throughout the STP period.

  • Capital Appreciation STP

Here, only the capital gains generated from the source fund get transferred to the target fund. The original investment amount remains in the source fund. This type of STP helps book profits from the source fund while retaining the initial investment.

  • Flexi STP

Flexi STP allows investors to vary the transfer amount based on market conditions or their financial goals. Investors can increase or decrease the amount transferred during specific intervals, providing flexibility in managing investments.

  • Trigger STP

A trigger STP is a type of STP where specific market conditions trigger the transfer. For example, an investor can trigger the transfer from a debt scheme to an equity fund when the equity market reaches a certain level or when the source fund achieves a specified return.

STPs typically work in the following manner:

  • Choose the Funds: Investors begin by selecting two mutual schemes from the same asset management company - one as the source fund and the other as the target fund. The source fund is typically a low-risk fund, such as a debt or liquid fund, while the target fund is often an equity fund with the potential for higher returns.

  • Determine Transfer Amount and Frequency: Investors specify the amount they want to transfer and the frequency of the transfers. STPs can be set up on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the investor's preference.

  • Start the Transfer: Once the STP is set up, the predetermined amount is transferred from the source fund to the target fund regularly. This ensures that the investment is gradually phased into the riskier asset class, reducing the impact of market volatility.

The benefits of STP are as follows:

  • Risk Mitigation: STPs are an excellent tool for risk-averse investors who want to venture into equity markets. By gradually transferring funds, investors can mitigate the risk of investing a lump sum in volatile markets.

  • Rupee Cost Averaging: STPs follow a rupee cost averaging approach. When markets are down, investors get more units of the target fund for the same investment amount, potentially resulting in better long-term returns.

  • Professional Management: Investors benefit from the experience of professional fund managers who actively manage the chosen funds. This ensures that the investment is aligned with the fund's investment objectives.

  • Flexibility: STPs offer flexibility regarding the frequency and amount of transfers. Investors can adjust their STP settings as per their financial goals and market conditions.

  • Tax Efficiency: The taxation of gains from debt and equity funds can differ depending on the holding period. STPs can be structured to optimize tax implications based on the investor's specific needs.

When setting up an STP in mutual funds, there are several key considerations and things to remember to ensure you make the most of this investment strategy:

  • Determine your investment objectives and risk appetite before selecting the source and target funds for your STP. Ensure that the chosen funds align with your financial goals.

  • Choose the source fund (usually a debt or liquid fund) and the target fund (such as an equity fund) based on your risk profile and investment horizon. Consider the historical performance, expense ratios, and fund manager's track record.

  • Determine the duration for which you plan to continue the STP. It can be a fixed period or until a specific financial goal is achieved.

  • Regularly review the performance of both the source and target funds. Consider adjusting the STP parameters accordingly if your investment goals or market conditions change.

  • Understand the tax implications of your STP. Different types of STP transfers may have varying tax consequences, such as capital gains tax. Consult with a tax advisor to optimize your tax strategy.

  • Keep proper records of your STP transactions, including transfer amounts, dates, and fund details. This documentation is essential for tax purposes and tracking your investment progress.

To Sum Up

An STP is a valuable tool that allows investors to balance risk and reward effectively. By gradually moving funds from low-risk options to high-potential assets, investors can confidently navigate the unpredictable nature of financial markets. STPs offer flexibility, professional management, and the potential for better returns, making them popular among investors looking to build wealth over the long term.

FAQs on What is STP in Mutual Funds

STP in mutual funds stands for systematic transfer plan. It is an investment strategy through which investors transfer a predetermined amount of money from one mutual fund scheme to another at regular intervals.

Each STP transfer involves the redemption of units from the source fund and subsequent reinvestment in the target fund. This redemption of mutual fund units from the source fund results in the imposition of capital gains tax for the investor.

If you've held your equity fund for over one year, it qualifies for long-term capital gains status, entailing complete tax exemption. However, it's imperative to exercise caution when executing an STP on equity funds with a holding period of less than one year. In such cases, the redemption incurs a 15% Short-Term Capital Gains (STCG) tax, which is an additional cost to consider.

An STP does not require a minimum investment amount.

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