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Many Filipinos enjoy 3-in-1 instant coffee, we love instant, we like having it all at once. It is inexpensive and cost-effective, especially if you are on a tight budget. Instead of buying a bag of coffee, sugar, and creamer separately, we can buy it all together at a low cost.

But in the world of investing, where there are a lot of financial instruments that are available, is there such thing as a 3-in-1 instant coffee? Well luckily there is, and they are called mutual funds.

So, what exactly are mutual funds? A mutual fund is a financial vehicle that pools shareholder (investor) assets and invests them in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets. In a nutshell, it is a collection of securities owned by a group of investors and managed by a fund manager. See the similarities with instant coffee? Both are a collection of various items packaged in a single product. Let's look at the table below to see how this works:

1.1 Composition of 3-in-1 coffee and Mutual Funds

So, now that we know they are similar in nature, how do mutual funds work?

The value of mutual fund depends on the performance of the securities in which it invests. When you purchase a mutual fund unit or share, you are purchasing the portfolio's performance or, more precisely, a portion of the portfolio's value. This makes you partly an owner of that portfolio and will give you exposure to all assets that a mutual fund can invest into.

How mutual funds work

(Source: Corporate Finance Institute)

So now that we know how it works, I'm sure most of you are wondering if it's more expensive than buying individual stocks in the market.

In the Philippines, a minimum of PHP8,000 is required to fully utilize buying a single stock because most brokerage fees in the country are 0.25% or PHP20.00, whichever is greater. This means that if you purchase one stock for less than PHP8,000, the commission percentage will begin to rise due to the PHP 20 minimum. BDO Securities' table summarizes this:

Broker Commission

(Source: BDO Securities)

To buy all 30 blue chip components of the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi), for example, you would need at least PHP128,000 (as of 2019) to meet the minimum buying amount requirements for each stock. However, because this does not represent the same weighting as the PSEi, your portfolio will not produce the same results as the PSEi. Sounds like a headache, right? The amount is much higher when we consider international indices such as the S&P500 index, which contains a whopping 500 companies.

Is there no hope of getting all of the companies in these indexes? There is, and that is where mutual funds come in. With mutual funds you are buying one product, but it includes all companies within it, so you will have the same exposure regardless of how much you invest. You can invest less money but gain exposure to all of the mutual fund's investments. So here again are the similarities of instant coffee and mutual funds.

You can easily achieve diversification with mutual funds because you are purchasing the portfolio itself, which contains various stocks. Buying mutual funds is like buying 3-in-1 coffee where you can have all important components in one product at lower cost.

And do you know what makes them more similar? Professional management. Instant coffee companies conduct research to determine the best allocation of ingredients for their target consumers. This is to ensure that the taste of their coffee is identical to what you would get if you bought the ingredients separately. If you're running late and need a cup of coffee right away, this is the better option. We may have different preferred instant coffee brands, but that is the beauty of competition: having a variety of options that are suitable for us.

In the case of mutual funds, they are actively managed by a professional who keeps a close eye on the portfolio of the fund called fund manager. Furthermore, the manager can devote more time to investment selection than a retail investor. So, if you're a busy person who doesn't have a lot of time to spend researching and browsing through stocks, this is perfect for you. Mutual funds have much lower investment minimums, allowing individual investors to experience and benefit from professional money management at a low cost. Like instant coffee, there are numerous mutual funds, each with unique characteristics aimed at different investors. It is simply a matter of seeking professional advice to determine what is best for you.

Whether you want to buy individual stocks or mutual funds what’s important is that you are already starting to invest.

Did you know that in the Philippines, insurance policies are the most common way to secure your financial future. This was according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey where 48% of adults have insurance coverage. PhilHealth was the most commonly owned type of insurance, followed by life insurance and microinsurance (see table 1.2).

Financial investors among adults increased from 25% in 2019 to 36% in 2021. However, excluding contributions to government pension schemes (such as GSIS and SSS), investment uptake fell from 2019 to 10% in 2021. (see table 1.3)

Contributions to pension schemes were the most common type of investment in 2021, accounting for 96%, followed by placement in the Pag-IBIG MP2 Fund (23%), and time deposits (2%). Stocks, bonds, UITFs, mutual funds, and other managed investment schemes were owned by only one percent (1%) of investors (see table 1.4).

Both pensions and Pag-IBIG MP2 provide guaranteed returns, with Pag-IBIG MP2 offering around 6.00%, which is suitable for a cautious to balanced risk profile. But with inflation rate slowly chipping away your hard-earned money is this enough for you?

You can still invest in products that provide higher returns while providing the same level of financial security. However, it is clear that only one percent of those with investments invest in stocks or mutual funds.

That is why mutual funds are important as they provide you access to the market in an affordable way that mimics its result. You will suddenly have access to different markets just like you will have many choices of instant coffee.

Mutual funds, just like instant coffee are designed to minimize stress in doing things while still providing their intended purpose.

We all want a stress-free investment so that we can focus on other aspects of our lives, but we also don't want to give up higher earning potential. We at AAPOC can take care of both; while you pursue your life goals, we will ensure your financial security by professionally managing your investments.

Tara kape? Let’s have some coffee. Let’s invest together with AAPOC.

AAPOC offers free 15-minute consultation to know your needs and know our products.

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