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Credit Risk Fund

Credit risk funds are debt funds that invest in low rated corporate debt (fixed income) securities. Owing to low credit rating, these funds are very volatile.

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List of Credit Risk Mutual Funds in 2022

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Fund name
AUM
1Y CAGR
3Y CAGR
Till Date CAGR
kotak-mahindra-logo
Kotak Credit Risk Fund (G)

1664.03 Cr

1.3%

5.3%

7.5%

icici-prudential-logo
ICICI Prudential Credit Risk Fund (G)

8038.649 Cr

4.6%

7.8%

8.4%

hdfc-logo
HDFC Credit Risk Debt Fund (G)

8640.905 Cr

3.8%

7.7%

8.4%

sbi-logo
SBI Credit Risk Fund (G)

3092.643 Cr

3.8%

6.5%

7.4%

franklin-templeton-logo
Franklin India Credit Risk Fund (G)

331.681 Cr

10.8%

6.3%

8.5%

Aditya_Birla_logo-logo
Aditya Birla Sun Life Credit Risk Fund (G)

1271.233 Cr

4.1%

5.7%

7%

dsp-logo
DSP Credit Risk Fund (G)

255.791 Cr

7.5%

5.2%

6.4%

reliance-nippon-life-logo
Nippon India Credit Risk Fund Institutional (G)

1059.894 Cr

10.6%

3%

7%

axis-logo
Axis Credit Risk Fund (G)

701.969 Cr

3.6%

5.3%

7.1%

l-and-t-logo
L&T Credit Risk Fund (G)

164.933 Cr

3.9%

3.4%

7%

bnp-paribas-logo
Baroda BNP Paribas Credit Risk Fund (G)

200.599 Cr

12.4%

7.2%

8%

idfc-logo
IDFC Credit Risk Fund (G)

735.781 Cr

2.3%

5.5%

5.9%

reliance-nippon-life-logo
Nippon India Credit Risk Fund (G)

1059.894 Cr

10.6%

2.9%

6.2%

dhfl-pramerica-logo
PGIM India Credit Risk Fund (G)

38.653 Cr

8.4%

3%

6.3%

boi-axa-logo
BOI AXA Credit Risk Fund (G)

166.258 Cr

143.8%

-6.2%

0.3%

Invesco_logo_updated-logo
Invesco India Credit Risk Fund (G)

127.929 Cr

1.4%

3.4%

5.2%

idbi-logo
IDBI Credit Risk Fund (G)

32.159 Cr

13.5%

1.2%

5.2%

uti-logo
UTI Credit Risk Fund (G)

513.361 Cr

20.2%

-6.3%

3.5%

franklin-templeton-logo
Franklin India Credit Risk Fund Segregated Portfolio 2 (G)

-

-

-

2.6%

mahindra-logo
Mahindra Manulife Dynamic Bond Yojana fund (G)

61.864 Cr

-0.8%

3.3%

4.1%

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What is credit risk?

Credit risk is the risk associated with the failure of a borrower to repay back the borrowed amount. In other words, it means when a person who took a loan is unable to pay back the same within the stipulated time. Credit risk is often compensated with higher cash flows in terms of returns. A bond with a high credit risk will have a low credit rating and high coupon rates. The interest payments by the borrowers of debt is a reward for the risk taken by the lender or investors.

Lenders often assess the borrower’s credit risk based on the credit history, ability to repay, amount of loan or principal, conditions for the loan and the collateral for the loan. Huge corporates have dedicated teams to analyze the credit risk of borrowers.

However, it gets difficult for individual investors to assess credit risk. In this case, they can follow the rating of various credit rating agencies. Any rating of BBB, A, AA, AAA are of the highest credit quality. The risk of default is very less. Ratings below BBB rating have the highest credit risk. The default rate for these is often high. Hence securities with these bonds have higher coupon rates than securities which don’t have them.

What are credit risk funds?

Credit risk funds are a type of mutual funds that invest in low rated corporate debt (fixed income) securities. They aim to generate higher returns by investing in securities that pay a higher yield than high rated funds. On the other hand, high rated corporate or government securities carry a lower risk.

Credit risk funds require a stable or favourable credit environment to outperform the other debt funds. As per the SEBI guidelines, credit risk funds should invest at least 65% of the assets in papers having ratings below AA+.

The bond ratings improve when the performance of the company increases. In such scenarios, the investors get higher interest rates. Also, when compared to other risk-free debt funds, these funds can generate higher returns.

Credit risk funds in India have fared poorly since 2018, after the IL&FS group default. The debt crisis has become severe with multiple downgrades and defaults by other groups such as Vodafone Idea and DHFL. Since then, the assets under management have fallen from INR 80,000 crore to INR 55,000.

How Does Credit risk Mutual Fund Work?

Credit risk mutual funds in India invest 65% of their assets in securities rated below AA+. These funds generate returns in two ways:

Interest Income: Investors earn interest income on the securities held by the credit risk mutual funds.

Capital Gains: They invest in lower-rated securities, and once the security gets upgraded, the investment earns capital gains.

There are good chances a borrower can default their interest payments, and in such scenarios, the security gets downgraded. This, in turn, has an impact on the fund capital gains. Eventually, the fund manager would not be able to get rid of the security resulting in low performance of the fund.

Who Should Invest in a Credit Risk Mutual Fund?

Since credit risk mutual funds invest in low credit rating securities, they come with a default risk attached to them. Credit risk funds earn from interest payments and capital gains if the underlying security is upgraded. However, there are more instances where the underlying security is downgraded due to its non-repayment of principal and defaulting of interest payments. These funds are very volatile.

From September 2018 credit risk mutual funds in India have been performing poorly. Since then, India is in an economic slowdown with defaults across multiple organizations and various rating downgrades. Covid-19 has only worsened the situation. Many of these funds are unable to meet the redemptions of investors due to low liquidity of these low rated papers.

Due to the high credit risk (default risk) in the category, experts recommend investors to stay away from this category of funds. Even for investors who can absorb the market volatility and have a high-risk tolerance, this isn’t the right time to invest in these funds.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing in Credit Risk Funds

Advantages

Higher returns

They invest in low rated securities. The risk involved in these funds is higher than funds investing in high credit rating papers. Hence they come with a premium coupon rate to compensate for the risk taken.

Benefits investors of highest income tax slab

The taxation on returns for short term capital gains is as per the income tax slab rate. However, if the investor stays invested for the long term, the capital gains are taxed at 20% with indexation benefit. Investors of the highest tax bracket (30%) will pay 10% less tax on gains.

Disadvantages

Lack of liquidity

They lack liquidity. These papers, if downgraded, will sit tight on liquidity. It will be difficult for investors to redeem their papers. The current situation in India is the same. Since September 2018, India is facing credit crises due to defaults from major companies. Since then the redemptions are high, but there are no funds with the bond issuer to repay back the loan taken.

High credit risk

They have a risk of defaulting. There can be instances where the papers can be downgraded, leaving investors and borrowers with unpaid bonds. Credit risk funds have underlying securities of rating below BBB. These classes have the highest default rate, thus increasing the risk in the fund.

Don’t suit all investors

Credit risk funds don’t suit all investors. These are high-risk funds, and investors looking for regular and stable income should explore other options. They are only for investors with a high-risk tolerance. However, in the current market scenario, experts recommend investing in diversified funds rather than credit risk funds.

Things to Consider Before Investing

Credit risk funds are high-risk funds. There are chances that the ratings of these funds might downgrade. Therefore they are suitable for investors who are willing to undertake the risk. Following are the things that an investor needs to keep in mind before investing in credit risk funds:

  • In a scenario where the bond in a portfolio fails to improve and defaults, the fund manager faces great difficulty in exiting the security. Therefore, as an investor one needs to be aware of the risk levels associated with these funds.
  • Funds with bigger AUM have a better probability at diversifying the portfolio and spreading the risk. Hence, investors should consider funds from the fund house with larger AUM.
  • It is important to invest in a credit risk fund whose portfolio isn’t highly concentrated.
  • A single business group should not have high possessions in the portfolio.
  • The performance of a credit risk fund highly depends on the portfolio manager and the fund house. It is important to choose the funds where the portfolio manager has good experience in handling debt portfolios.
  • Choose a credit risk fund with a low expense ratio.

Conclusion

Credit risk is associated with borrowers defaulting payments to the lenders. Credit risk funds invest more than 65% of their assets in securities where default risk is high. They invest in securities rated AA and below. However, to compensate for the risk taken, the coupon rates on these securities tend to be high. Thus making the credit risk fund’s returns higher than other funds. Since September 2018, the category of credit risk funds in India has taken a hit. With defaults from multiple big companies, India has gone into a debt crisis. Moreover, the credit rating of many of these securities has also been downgraded. To add to this, Covid-19 has made the situation even worse.

Therefore in the light of the current situation, Scripbox doesn’t recommend these funds due to the high credit risk.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between corporate bond fund and credit risk fund?

Both corporate bond funds and credit risk funds are similar in their investment in bonds. However, corporate bond funds invest the majority of the asset in high-quality bonds that earn interest during the course of the investment. While credit risk funds invest the majority in low-quality credit funds with a higher level of risk caused by the weak financial status of the company. The investment strategy of credit risk fund is to generate high returns by investing in high risk bonds. The risk involved in credit risk bonds is w.r.t. the default in repaying the principal amount. To compensate such a risk credit risk fund attempts to deliver a higher return to its investors.

Is credit risk fund a debt fund?

Yes, credit risk funds are debt fund that invest in high risk debt instruments. They aim to generate higher returns by investing in securities that pay a higher yield than high rated funds. Credit risk funds should invest at least 65% of the assets in papers having ratings below AA+. In comparison to other risk-free debt funds, these funds can generate higher returns.

What is interest rate risk in debt funds?

Interest rate risk is the risk associated with the fixed income earning securities such as bonds, bills, etc. An interest rate risk is the probability that the interest rate will reduce the value of the bond or other the fixed income earning debt instruments. If the interest rate rises, the market price of the bonds reduces making it less attractive for the investors. A debt fund invests in fixed income earning securities. Since, such fixed income earning securities are subject to interest rate risk, debt funds are also associated with interest rate risk. Such a price sensitivity of an instrument to its interest rate is called duration. The higher the duration of the instrument, higher is the sensitivity to the interest rate fluctuations.

How is credit risk calculated?

Credit risk is calculated based on many factors like credit history, ability to repay, amount of loan or principal, conditions for the loan and the collateral for the loan. All factors are analyzed together to come with a credit ranking that determines the level of risk. Various credit rating agencies offer such a credit rating. Any rating of BBB, A, AA, AAA are of the highest credit quality. The risk of default is very less. Ratings below BBB rating have the highest credit risk. The default rate for these is often high. Hence securities with these bonds have higher coupon rates than securities which don’t have them.

Are credit risk funds safe?

Credit risk funds are high-risk funds. There are chances that the ratings of these funds might downgrade. Since credit risk mutual funds invest in low credit rating securities, they come with a default risk attached to them. Hence, it is not suitable to all investors. No doubt credit risk funds carry a higher risk. Hence, these funds are suitable for investors who understand the high risk associated with it. Due to the high credit risk (default risk) in the category, experts recommend investors to stay away from this category of funds. Even for investors who can absorb the market volatility and have a high-risk tolerance, due to Covid-19 this isn’t the right time to invest in these funds.

What are the risks of debt funds?

The risk of investing in debt funds are interest rate risk and credit risk. An interest rate risk is the probability that the interest rate will reduce the value of the bond or other the fixed income earning debt instruments. If the interest rate rises, the market price of the bonds reduces making it less attractive for the investors. A debt fund invests in fixed income earning securities. Since, such fixed income earning securities are subject to interest rate risk, debt funds are also associated with interest rate risk Credit risk is also known as the default risk. As the name suggests, it is the risk or default i.e. failure to repay the principal amount or the interest accrued. is the risk of the issuer. Various credit rating agencies offer such a credit rating. Any rating of BBB, A, AA, AAA are of the highest credit quality. The risk of default is very less. Ratings below BBB rating have the highest credit risk. The default rate for these is often high. Hence securities with these bonds have higher coupon rates than securities which don’t have them.

How is credit risk managed?

Credit risk is primarily managed by applying credit evaluation for the borrower to determine the ability to repay and the level of risk associated with the credit given. Banks manage credit risk during the course of the credit by holding collaterals or form of guarantee from the lender to cover the value of the credit and reserves the right to take ownership of the guarantee in case the borrower was unable to pay.

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