If ignorance is bliss then investing in a mutual fund seems a cakewalk compared with investing directly in stocks. But truth be told, buying the right mutual fund is actually far more complicated than buying an individual stock. Trying to analyse a portfolio and creating models around how the portfolio will play out over time is tough because of the multitude of factors affecting each stock in a portfolio and their interplay. Now try doing this for a whole bunch of funds to figure out which one is better, and you’ll actually get nowhere.

The only thing that makes sense, therefore, is to bet on the fund manager, and say that he or she has generally delivered a decent return in the past, and can be trusted to behave rationally. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to track the performance of individual fund managers rather than inundate you with the plethora of fund schemes out there, which are usually launched for the marketing team to garner more assets than for their investment merit. An added reason for this individual ranking is that fund managers switch jobs, and when they do so, it’s difficult to take a call on whether you should stick to the scheme or move with the fund manager.

So here we are, with India’s first-ever fund manager ranking done exclusively for Outlook Business by Value Research, India’s premier mutual fund tracking agency and the originator of mutual fund ratings in the country. We have profiled the top fund managers over the past five years, and also those at the top of the 10-year table. I can’t thank enough the Value Research team, particularly Charul Sharma, for being super prompt in supporting us with whatever data we needed.

You can’t afford to miss the interview with Prashant Jain, chief investment officer of HDFC Mutual Fund, whom investors have entrusted with Rs.29,348 crore in funds that he manages directly. He is one of the three fund managers in India with a 20-year performance history and his track record is outstanding. But he is going through testing times and we ask him, what is he thinking.