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What is liquid mutual fund?

In the world of mutual funds, liquid mutual funds stand out as a popular choice for investors seeking safety, liquidity, and reasonable returns. These funds are specifically designed to meet the needs of those who want to park their surplus funds for short durations without compromising on safety and the ability to access their money quickly. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what liquid mutual funds are, how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and how they compare to other investment options.


What Are Liquid Mutual Funds?

Liquid mutual funds are a type of debt mutual fund that primarily invests in short-term money market instruments. These instruments include treasury bills, commercial papers, certificates of deposit, and other highly liquid securities with a maturity period of up to 91 days. The primary objective of liquid mutual funds is to provide investors with high liquidity and safety of capital while generating modest returns.


These funds are an excellent alternative to traditional savings accounts and fixed deposits for managing short-term cash needs. They offer the advantage of higher returns compared to a regular savings account while maintaining a similar level of safety and liquidity.


How Liquid Mutual Funds Work

Liquid mutual funds invest in a diversified portfolio of short-term money market instruments. Here’s a breakdown of the key components and workings of these funds:

Portfolio Composition:

Liquid funds invest in high-quality debt instruments with very short maturities, typically not exceeding 91 days.

Common instruments include treasury bills, commercial papers, certificates of deposit, and repurchase agreements.

Investment Strategy:

The fund manager’s primary goal is to manage the portfolio in a way that ensures high liquidity and low risk.

By investing in short-duration instruments, these funds minimize interest rate risk and credit risk.

NAV Calculation:

The Net Asset Value (NAV) of liquid funds is calculated on a daily basis.

Unlike equity funds, where NAV can be highly volatile, the NAV of liquid funds typically exhibits very low volatility due to the nature of the underlying assets.

Redemption and Liquidity:

One of the key features of liquid mutual funds is their high liquidity. Investors can redeem their units at any time, and the funds are credited to their account within one working day.

There are no entry or exit loads in most liquid mutual funds, making them cost-effective for short-term investments.

Benefits of Liquid Mutual Funds

Liquid mutual funds offer several benefits that make them an attractive option for short-term investments. Here are some of the key advantages:

High Liquidity:

Liquid funds are designed to provide quick access to your money, usually within 24 hours of redemption.

This makes them ideal for managing emergency funds or short-term cash requirements.

Low Risk:

These funds invest in high-quality, short-term debt instruments, which reduces the risk of default and interest rate fluctuations.

The short maturity period of the underlying assets further minimizes the risk.

Higher Returns:

Liquid mutual funds generally offer higher returns compared to traditional savings accounts.

While the returns are not guaranteed, they tend to be more attractive for short-term investments.


Most liquid funds have low expense ratios, making them a cost-effective option for parking surplus funds.

There are usually no entry or exit loads, which further enhances their appeal.


Investors can start with a small amount and add or withdraw funds as needed.

This flexibility makes liquid mutual funds suitable for both individual investors and businesses looking to manage their cash flows.

Drawbacks of Liquid Mutual Funds

While liquid mutual funds offer numerous benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

Lower Returns Compared to Long-Term Investments:

While the returns on liquid mutual funds are higher than savings accounts, they are generally lower than equity mutual funds or long-term debt funds.

Investors looking for higher returns may need to explore other investment options.

Tax Implications:

The returns from liquid mutual funds are subject to capital gains tax.

Short-term capital gains (investments held for less than three years) are taxed at the investor’s marginal tax rate, while long-term capital gains are taxed at 20% with indexation benefits.

Not Completely Risk-Free:

Although the risk is low, liquid mutual funds are not entirely risk-free. There is still a small degree of credit risk and interest rate risk involved.

It’s essential to choose funds with high-quality underlying assets to minimize these risks.

Reinvestment Risk:

As the instruments in liquid mutual funds mature quickly, there is a risk of reinvestment at lower interest rates if the market conditions change unfavorably.

This could impact the overall returns of the fund.

Comparing Liquid Mutual Funds with Other Investment Options

To better understand the suitability of liquid mutual funds, it’s helpful to compare them with other common investment options:

Savings Accounts:

Savings accounts offer high liquidity and safety but provide relatively low returns.

Liquid mutual funds, on the other hand, offer better returns with similar liquidity.

Fixed Deposits (FDs):

Fixed deposits offer higher returns than savings accounts but come with a lock-in period, which limits liquidity.

Liquid mutual funds provide better liquidity and flexibility, though FD rates can sometimes be higher for longer durations.

Short-Term Debt Funds:

Short-term debt funds invest in instruments with maturities ranging from one to three years, offering higher returns than liquid funds but with increased risk.

Liquid mutual funds are more suitable for very short-term investments due to their focus on ultra-short-term instruments.

Money Market Funds:

Money market funds are similar to liquid funds but may invest in slightly longer-duration instruments.

Both options offer high liquidity, but liquid funds tend to have a lower risk profile due to the shorter maturity period of their investments.

Choosing the Right Liquid Mutual Fund

When selecting a liquid mutual fund, consider the following factors to ensure it aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance:

Fund Performance:

Review the historical performance of the fund to gauge its consistency in delivering returns.

While past performance is not indicative of future results, it can provide insights into the fund’s management quality and investment strategy.

Expense Ratio:

The expense ratio represents the annual fee charged by the fund for managing your investment.

Opt for funds with lower expense ratios to maximize your net returns.

Credit Quality:

Examine the credit quality of the underlying instruments in the fund’s portfolio.

High-quality instruments reduce the credit risk and enhance the safety of your investment.

Fund Size:

Consider the size of the fund, as larger funds may have better access to high-quality instruments and more diversified portfolios.

However, extremely large funds may face challenges in efficiently deploying their capital.

Fund Manager Expertise:

The experience and track record of the fund manager play a crucial role in the fund’s performance.

Research the fund manager’s background and expertise in managing liquid funds.

Exit Load and Lock-in Period:

Most liquid mutual funds do not have an exit load or lock-in period, but it’s essential to verify this before investing.

Ensure that the fund offers the flexibility you need for accessing your money without penalties.

How to Invest in Liquid Mutual Funds

Investing in liquid mutual funds is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to get started:

Identify Your Investment Goals:

Determine your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon for parking your surplus funds.

Liquid mutual funds are suitable for short-term goals and emergency funds.

Research and Select a Fund:

Use financial websites, fund rating agencies, and mutual fund comparison tools to research and select a suitable liquid mutual fund.

Consider factors such as performance, expense ratio, credit quality, and fund manager expertise.

Complete KYC Requirements:

Before investing in mutual funds, complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) process.

Submit the required documents, such as identity proof, address proof, and a recent photograph, to the fund house or a KYC registration agency.

Choose the Investment Mode:

Decide whether you want to invest a lump sum amount or set up a systematic investment plan (SIP) for regular contributions.

Liquid mutual funds are flexible and allow both modes of investment.

Monitor and Review Your Investment:

Regularly monitor the performance of your investment and review it against your financial goals.

Stay informed about market conditions and any changes in the fund’s strategy or management.


Liquid mutual funds are an attractive investment option for those seeking a safe, liquid, and relatively higher-yielding alternative to traditional savings accounts and fixed deposits. By investing in high-quality short-term debt instruments, these funds offer a balance of safety, liquidity, and modest returns, making them suitable for short-term cash management needs.

While liquid mutual funds have their advantages, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and tax implications. Careful selection of the right fund, based on factors such as performance, expense ratio, credit quality, and fund manager expertise, can help maximize the benefits of investing in liquid mutual funds.

Ultimately, liquid mutual funds provide a valuable tool for managing short-term finances, offering flexibility and accessibility while preserving capital. Whether you’re an individual investor looking to park surplus funds or a business managing cash flows, liquid mutual funds can play a vital role in your overall financial strategy.

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