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Beyond stocks: Can mutual funds invest in options and futures

Mutual funds are investment vehicles that pool money from multiple investors to purchase a diversified portfolio of securities such as stocks, bonds, and short-term debt. Options and futures contracts, on the other hand, are financial instruments that allow investors to speculate on the future price movements of assets without owning them outright. 

Now, the question arises: Can mutual funds invest in options and futures? In this article, we will explore the possibilities of mutual funds investing in derivatives like options and futures, shedding light on the potential benefits involved for investors.

What are mutual funds?

Mutual funds are investment vehicles that pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. These funds are managed by professional portfolio managers, who make investment decisions on behalf of the fund’s investors. 

Mutual funds offer investors the opportunity to access a diversified portfolio of assets without having to directly manage them. They are typically structured as open-end funds, meaning investors can buy or sell shares at the fund’s net asset value (NAV) based on the fund’s underlying holdings.

Can Mutual funds invest in futures and options?

Mutual funds in India cannot invest directly in futures and options (F&O) contracts. According to the regulations set by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), mutual funds can only invest in securities and instruments specified in their scheme’s investment objectives.

However, mutual funds can indirectly gain exposure to the derivatives market, including futures and options, through instruments such as equity derivatives (e.g., stock futures, stock options), index futures, and index options. Fund managers can use mutual fund derivatives to hedge or manage portfolio risk.

For example, a mutual fund manager may use index futures to hedge against potential market downturns or use mutual fund options (stock options) to enhance returns or manage volatility in the portfolio.

However, derivatives usage by mutual funds is subject to regulatory limits and guidelines issued by SEBI, and they must ensure compliance with risk management and disclosure requirements.

Overall, for a question, can mutual fund invest in options and futures? The answer will be mutual funds cannot directly invest in futures and options contracts, they can use derivative instruments within regulatory limits to achieve their investment objectives and manage portfolio risk.

Regulatory guidelines for futures and options in funds

SEBI permits funds to use derivatives for hedging, specifically allowing them to hedge their equity investments. 

Recently, SEBI has also allowed funds to underwrite call option contracts under strict conditions. Previously, mutual funds could only take positions in derivative contracts, but now they can also write options contracts. 

However, this is restricted to the covered call strategy and applies only to Nifty50 and Sensex Index constituents. In other words, they can only write options if they already have a long position in the underlying assets.


Now you know the most asked question: can mutual fund invest in futures or options? SEBI oversees mutual funds to protect individual investors and has recently approved using derivatives like futures and options for risk management.

These derivatives are only allowed for index-based funds with long positions. Some types of mutual funds, like arbitrage funds, can benefit from using futures and options.

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Can mutual funds invest in options and futures?

Mutual funds can now invest in options and futures as SEBI allows them to use derivatives for hedging purposes.

Why would mutual funds use options and futures?

Mutual funds may use options and futures to hedge their equity investments against market volatility, helping to reduce risk in their portfolios.

How do options and futures help in hedging?

Options and futures contracts provide mutual funds with the ability to establish predetermined prices for buying or selling assets in the future, thus protecting against adverse price movements.

Are there any risks associated with mutual funds investing in options and futures?

While hedging with derivatives can mitigate risks, there are still inherent risks involved in options and futures trading, such as potential losses due to market fluctuations and incorrect predictions.

Is this a common practice among mutual funds?

With SEBI’s recent permission, the use of derivatives for hedging purposes is becoming more common among mutual funds, as it allows for better risk management strategies in their investment portfolios.

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