Accrual strategy

Accrual strategy

Debt funds primarily employ two methods to guarantee greater returns. The duration approach and accrual strategy are the two options. An accrual fund is a debt fund that employs the accrual methodology. This article will review all the information you require concerning accrual funds. 

What is an accrual strategy? 

An accrual strategy intends to maintain the paper until it matures and, provided that all other factors stay unchanged, strives to collect regular interest income from the investment made. As the main objective is to receive consistent revenue from the papers they hold, funds that employ this method are also known as “income” funds. 

Debt mutual funds include accrual funds as a subclass. As a result, they often invest in short- to medium-term objectives and are low-risk investments. They buy-in securities with lower credit ratings to increase yield and take on credit risk. The primary goal of accrual funds is to generate interest income through bond coupon offers. These funds use a buy-and-hold strategy, holding the assets until they mature. 

Understanding the accrual strategy 

Fund managers frequently use an accrual technique in securities with a short- to medium-term maturity. This is due to three factors:  

  • No one wants to lock in long-term interest rates unless they are certain it is the highest.  
  • Two, looking for the long term in anything other than government securities could result in unanticipated future credit risk.  
  • Papers held for a long period are more volatile since they are subject to the whims of interest rates. Therefore, they don’t produce predictable results. 

Categories with an accrual strategy 

A fund with a relatively short period or even one with a medium length may employ an accrual method. In an accrual strategy, one or more characteristics will predominate.

  • A pure accrual fund will have a very short lifespan to start with. These funds will be liquid overnight, ultra-short, low-duration, and money market funds. When we refer to average maturity, we mean the average maturity of the entire portfolio. A few papers could have a long maturity. 
  • Second, if the fund is entirely accrual, there won’t be any significant changes in the average maturity. For instance, you won’t find funds increasing maturity from 1 to 3 years in categories like short-term debt funds or low duration. They continue to be range bound. 
  • Third, you’ll find fewer long-term government securities in such portfolios and more certificates of deposits, commercial papers, and corporate bonds with shorter maturities. 
  • Fourth, measures with lower volatility than categories that follow length can be seen in figures like standard deviation. 

Accrual and duration mix 

The goal of accrual funds is to generate interest income through bond coupons. This particular class of debt fund usually invests in short- to medium-term securities. The funds focus on retaining securities till maturity and range in quality from mid-to-high.  

Accrual funds use buy-and-hold tactics and concentrate on providing superior returns versus bank fixed deposits. These funds invest in securities with a marginally lower credit rating to get greater yields and face a credit risk.  

In an ideal world, funds that use the duration-based strategy would invest in long-term bonds and profit from falling interest rates. So, in addition to receiving the bond’s coupon, they profit from capital growth.  

However, these funds could experience capital losses if interest rates increase, as they are subject to interest rate risk. The fund manager makes interest rate predictions using this method. 

Since each entails different risks, an investor may combine both types of funds in his debt portfolio depending on his risk tolerance. If an accrual approach fund is pursued too vigorously, the portfolio’s credit risk may rise.  

On the other hand, if the fund manager’s call of interest rate movements is incorrect, a duration strategy may be exposed to interest rate risk, volatility risk, etc. As a result, each strategy has its advantages and offers a different risk-reward scenario to the investor. 

Use of an accrual strategy 

Accruals are used to ensure a company’s financial statements appropriately represent its current financial situation. This is significant because various stakeholders, such as investors, creditors, and regulators, use financial statements to assess a company’s financial performance and health.  

Without accruals, a company’s financial statements wouldn’t accurately depict its revenues, costs, assets, and liabilities; instead, they would show the cash coming in and going out. Accruals give a more realistic picture of a company’s financial situation by recognizing revenues and expenses as they are generated or incurred rather than just when payment is received or paid. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The features of the accrual strategy are: 

  • When it comes to interest rates, accrual debt funds do not take chances. They  make investments only in short- to medium-term bonds. 
  • Accrual funds take on credit risk by investing in businesses with lower credit ratings but stronger commercial potential. They do this in the anticipation that businesses will prosper and their credit score will rise soon. 
  • Accrual funds invest in businesses for an extended period. Investors can profit from the interest revenue they produce. 
  • Like most debt funds, accrual funds are less tax-intensive than FDs. This is because they are taxed at the slab rate of 20%, while FDs are subject to a 30% tax. Only 20% of the returns are subject to taxation for investors at the highest tax rate. 

When a fund employs a duration strategy, it attempts to change the maturity of the papers it owns based on where the interest rate cycle is in its life cycle. These funds predict the future direction of interest rates and construct their portfolio accordingly. A long-duration strategy performs well when interest rates fall, normally occurring during recessions. 

If an accrual approach fund is pursued too vigorously, the portfolio’s credit risk may rise. On the other hand, if the fund manager’s call of interest rate movements is incorrect, a duration strategy may be exposed to interest rate risk, volatility risk, etc. 

A high accrual is an issue when the ratio shows that the company depends substantially on accruals to maintain a good financial picture. In other words, the business is accruing more annually than it brings in from outstanding accounts receivable. 


One must accept a certain amount of risk in accrual funds because of their low volatility to achieve the desired consistent returns. However, the accrual fund technique offers greater return predictability. As a result, cautious investors can invest in this fund.

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