Sharekhan Blog

What is Mutual Fund Portfolio Overlap?

  • Feb 15, 2024

However, excessive overlapping of fund holdings can undermine portfolio diversification and efficiency.

Gaining perspective into portfolio overlap enables retail investors to ensure their mutual fund selections work synergistically towards achieving long-term wealth creation in line with personalised risk tolerances.

This article will discuss understanding portfolio overlap and its importance for several reasons.

Understanding Mutual Fund Portfolio Overlap

Portfolio overlap refers to a situation where an investor ends up owning similar securities or stocks across the multiple mutual funds they may be invested in. Some overlap is common, but excessive overlaps can undermine the intended diversification and risk management benefits of investing across different funds.

Gaining insight into fund overlap enables retail investors to ensure their mutual fund investments work together efficiently to achieve long-term financial goals per individual risk orientations. 

What Leads to Portfolio Overlap?

There are a few key reasons why portfolio overlap occurs in multi-fund portfolios:

1. Similarity in fund investing objectives

A large-cap and diversified equity fund may reflect significant overlap as both target larger, well-established companies.

2. Managers picking the same stocks

Fund managers conducting similar market and stock analyses can find the same securities fitting their investment mandates. Popular stocks can thus feature in multiple funds. 

3. Overlapping fund categories

Categorisations like large cap, flexi cap, and multi-cap have fluid definitions, which lead to funds holding many similar stocks.

4. Market trends impacting style convergence

During specific market conditions, funds of varying styles accumulate the same securities that are impacted. For example, a rally in consumption stocks can result in value and growth funds lapping them.

Therefore, while some portfolio overlap is unavoidable, being aware of and mitigating extensive overlaps is vital for investors.

How Does Overlap Impact Diversification?

The main fallout of fund overlap is concentrated exposures across fewer unique stocks than intended diversification levels. For instance, an investor may be invested across 3 funds with 80-90% unique stock exposures to optimise diversification. However, a 40-50% overlap limits the true spread of securities held.

This can magnify portfolio volatility and drawdowns in scenarios where overlaps skew toward distressed sectors. What also aggravates is the diluted benefits of specialist fund mandates like mid-cap, sectoral, or thematic exposures if top holdings keep repeating across larger multi-cap funds. 

Measuring and Tracking Overlap

Investors can utilise online tools and calculators to analyse the degree of overlap across their mutual fund schemes regarding common stocks and their weightage. Manually comparing the latest mutual fund portfolios also provides insight into overlapping holdings.

Reviewing fund returns over previous cycles for divergence or cohesion also provides inferences into their uniqueness. For instance, synchronised returns imply significant style or stock convergence between funds. Analysing such quantitative and qualitative factors occasionally helps assess portfolio health.

Strategies to Minimise Overlap

Some effective ways for retail investors to reduce excessive overlap between their mutual fund schemes include:

1. Capping fund allocation per asset class - equity, debt, etc. to enable genuine diversification

2. Limiting exposure per fund category like small cap, mid cap, and sectoral funds as they inherently have definitional overlaps

3. Selecting funds managed by different investment houses and fund managers having divergent investment philosophies

4. Preferring an index fund as a core portfolio holding paired with satellite actively managed funds

Additionally, reviewing fund holdings every quarter and rebalancing allocations periodically aid in maintaining intended exposures and risk attributes.

What to Consider When Selecting Funds?

While evaluating mutual funds, retail investors should assess parameters such as:

1. Category classifications like large cap, thematic, and balanced to understand likely overlap implications

2. Investment approach growth versus value styles, market capitalisation focuses, etc.

3. Benchmark targets guiding fund selection universes

4. Current portfolio composition across sectors, top holdings, etc.

5. Historical return cohesion with existing schemes during market swings

These qualitative and quantitative factors assist in identifying funds that enhance overall portfolio diversification.

Seeking Expert Guidance

For investors feeling overwhelmed with the analysis required to structure efficient portfolios, seeking expert help is recommended. Financial advisors can evaluate current fund holdings across investors and design optimised scheme selections aligned to personalised needs across risk appetite, liquidity, and asset class preferences.

Periodic portfolio reviews further enhance course corrections to address evolving market dynamics and new investment opportunities. Taking advisor assistance enables better portfolio oversight.

Conclusion

Investors should be aware of mutual fund portfolio overlaps as they can undermine diversification and increase risks. To mitigate excessive overlaps, measure and track overlap using various tools, select smarter funds, and seek professional guidance. This leads to a resilient mutual fund portfolio across market cycles and strengthens your overall investment experience.


Team Sharekhan
by Team Sharekhan

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