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Dematerialising Mutual Funds

Here's everything that you need to take into consideration before demat your mutual fund holdings...

I have been investing in mutual funds for a long while. Over the years I have even bought a number of shares since I dabble in stocks on and off. I remember I used to buy shares when the delivery was physical and how important the share certificate was. I would be terrified of losing it. Now of course, it is compulsory for shares to be demateralised.
My broker suggested I do the same with my mutual fund units. Then I would not have the problem of losing my statements. Moreover, I will have all my investments at one place only. That would help me get an aggregated view of it all. That for me is most convenient. Do you agree with me or are there some issues I must be concerned about? Is it a detailed procedure?

-- N Narayan

A lot of investors are pretty lured by the notion that once they demat their mutual fund holdings life gets much more convenient. Maybe. But actually, it's not impossible now either.

Individuals are of the opinion that they can view all their investments at one place in one sheet when they dematerliase their holdings. But what is stopping you from doing it right now?
If you are being serviced by a big national distributor, he would be able to provide that service to you right away. This is even the case with online distributors. However, this is a glitch here. This is valid only if you are holding just mutual funds in your portfolio.
In your case, since you also hold stocks, you can get it done completely free of cost on the Value Research website. The My Portfolio tool is one where you can add all your stock and mutual fund holdings. Not only will you see the current value of your entire portfolio online, you will also see the cost of acqusition as well. Morever, you will get details on how much of your holdings are in mid, small and large caps. You will also see the asset allocation (equity, debt cash), the top holdings and the sector allocations. What the tool does is aggregate all your investments and present it to you in one consolidated portfolio. You will not get such detail and analysis with a demat account!

Once you demat your account, there are costs that will be incurred. There are account opening and annual account maintenance fees. Since you already have a demat account, this does not apply to you. But there will be transaction costs. For every mutual fund transaction through your demat account you will be paying a transaction fee. This is more critical in the case of debt funds where the yield is low and further impacted by transaction costs.

Account statement
You speak of your statement being extremely important. No one's denying that, but it cannot be compared to a physical share certificate. Your equity share certificate was a valuable document. Investors who lost that would find themselves in a soup. Not so in the case with a mutual fund statement. Should you lose your latest statement, just ask for another.

Other issues
Nomination: When you hold a demat account, you can state a nominee who should inherit all your investments. What if you want to leave the investments in Fund A to your son and the investments in Fund B to your daughter? It may not be possible to have different nominees for different investments in a demat account.
Change of address: With the compulstory KYC - Know Your Customer - process, once the Central Depository Services Ltd (CDSL) is intimidated, it will apply to all your holdings in various fund houses.
Electronic trading: Today it is possible to deal electronically with any mutual fund once you get a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You can buy, sell and switch units online.
On a final note, please do not get swayed by your broker. A number of them are wooing fund investors with the incentive that they will suggest funds to buy or sell based on fund portfolio. Do remember, all of this only helps the broker, not you.

The Demat Process
Start by obtaining the conversion request form (CRF) from your Depository Participant (DP).
Fill it up and submit it with the required documents and Statements of Account to the DP.
The DP will send the application to the fund house. The request will be verified by the asset management company (AMC) and the Registrar and Transfer Agent (RTA). The fund house will then confirm the request and credit the units to your demat account.

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