Update: there is a newer version of this comparison here. Also, the URL for the mutual funds association website has changed and been updated for both posts.
Here's a point-by-point comparison of UITFs vs. Mutual Funds.
1. Government Regulatory Agency:
UITFs - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
Mutual Funds - Securities and Exchange Commission
2. Issuing Companies:
UITFs - Banks
Mutual Funds - Insurance companies, investment companies
3. Fund Types:
Both offer the essentially the same fund types: money market, bond, balanced, equity.
Since both have the same types of investments the risks are the same.
5. Minimum Investment Amount:
UITFs - as low as P10,000
Mutual Funds - as low as P5,000
Winner: Mutual Funds
6. Subsequent Investment Amount:
UITFs - as low as P1,000*
Mutual Funds - as low as P1,000
Winner: Mutual Funds, for now
7. Front-end Sales Load:
UITFs - None
Mutual Funds - As low as 0%
8. Holding Period:
UITFs - As low as 0 days
Mutual Funds - As low as 0 days if front-end load is charged
9. Back-end Sales Load:
UITFs - None, if redemption is made after the holding period
Mutual Funds - As low as 0%, if redemption is made after the holding period
10. Partial Redemption:
UITFs - Not allowed
Mutual Funds - Allowed
Winner: Mutual Funds
11. Management Fee:
UITFs - As low as 0.25%
Mutual Funds - As low as 1%
UITFs - uitf.com.ph - Ugly colors, good uptime, loads of information
Mutual Funds - pifa.com.ph - Clean look, not so good uptime, not much information aside from NAVPS performance
Overall, I think UITFs win. The fees are lower and the holding times are shorter. I think performance will be the roughly the same, maybe with UITF NAVPUs doing better than mutual fund NAVPS because of the lower management fees.
My only concern is that the subsequent investment requirement is higher. That means it's harder to cost average with UITFs than with mutual funds.
*However I talked to a bank representative and she informed me that their bank now accepts subsequent investments of as low as P1000. If other banks follow suit then mutual funds will lose that advantage.
Does that mean mutual fund investors should move their investments to UITFs? No, I think it would be a good idea to invest in both, to minimize risk.