SIP or Systematic Investment Plan is very well known for mutual fund investment. The advantages of investing through SIP mode that typically proclaimed are :
- Rupee cost averaging
- Disciplined mode of investment
- SIP methods works irrespective of the current market level
These are great advantages, especially for retail investors. So some brokerage companies have started providing facility to invest in the SIP route for individual stocks. This is “Equity SIP” which is the new buzzword. There are two types of SIP investment allowed:
- Amount based: Fix the amount to be invested at regular intervals
- Quantity based: Fix the quantity of shares to be invested at regular intervals.
This sounds like a great way of investment on the face of it, but is it really that good? Let us try to analyse whether a retail investor will get the same benefit of SIP investment as mutual funds:
- Rupee cost averaging: The key advantage that is mentioned for SIP investment is that even in volatile markets this is a great tool due to rupee cost averaging. The key to cost averaging is that if market is down, you will get more units and if the market is up, you get a higher portfolio value. This sounds great and it definitely seem to work for individual stocks as well, but the rupee cost averaging can only average out a less volatile stock (which is mostly true for mutual fund due to inherent diversification). If a stock (& for that matter mutual fund) is extremely volatile, then this method may not be able to average out your losses. In essence you need to find a good stock with high growth potential and less volatility to use rupee cost averaging.
- Disciplined mode of investment: Yes, this method definitely forces investors to shell out money at regular intervals, but it is useful only if over a long period you are increasing your wealth. If you invest regularly in a stock which is sliding down over a long period then definitely it is not a great investment even if you are putting money at regular intervals. In essence you need to find a good stock with high growth potential and less volatility to make disciplined mode of investment.
- SIP works irrespective of market level: This is true because at lower levels you will get more units and the rupee cost averaging kicks in for mutual funds. This does not apply for individual shares though. Will it really makes sense to invest when you know that the particular share has just tanked to the bottom. Some of the stocks never recover and so will your SIP investments.
If I look carefully, Equity SIPs does not sound as attractive as it is made out to be by the brokerage houses. The brokerage charges for Equity SIPs are same as those for investing directly into shares and hence it does not offer any advantages. So does it mean that retail investor should never look at Equity SIPs? Well not actually, since I feel these are great tool of investment if :
- You invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs) which are passively managed and hence less volatile
- You invest in quality stocks which are strong in fundamentals and currently undervalued
- Brokerage houses start giving additional benefits like lower charges for this disciplined investing
I am using Equity SIPs for Gold ETFs as a long term investment.