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A Comprehensive Guide to Money Market Funds in Kenya

What are money market funds?

A Money Market Fund (MMF) is a type of Unit Trust that has gradually grown in popularity over the years. It is an investment tool where unit holders invest in a unit of a pooled fund. The unit holder invests the money with a fund manager, who uses that collective money to invest in instruments approved by the capital markets authority. 

The fund manager would typically invest in short term, highly liquid financial instruments like bank call deposits, treasury bills, corporate noted and bank fixed deposits. The investment is made only on high credit quality products as they are low risk investments by nature.

Money Markets are a great option if you are looking to get a modest return on short term investments and if you want to build an emergency fund. MMF offers great liquidity and low volatility to the investor.

Returns expected from different money market funds 

Money Markets are almost the same as savings account except they yield higher returns. On average, most saving account yield a return of 4% but money markets are slightly higher at approximately 6% to 7% per annum.

We have so many Money Market Funds in Kenya that you can chose from.

Below are some of the fund managers in Kenya and rates they offer as of 12th August 2022:

Rank Fund Manager Effective Annual Rate 
Cytonn Money Market  Fund 10.6% 
Zimele Money Market  Fund 9.9% 
Sanlam Money Market  Fund 9.6% 
Nabo Africa Money Market Fund 9.23% 
5CIC Money Market  Fund 9.0%
6Madison Money Market  Fund9.3%
7Apollo Money Market Fund 9.4%
8Dry Associates Money Market  Fund 9.1%
9Co-op Money Market Fund9.0%
10GenCapHela Imara Money Market  Fund8.9%
11British-American Money Market  Fund 7.5%
12ICEA Lion Money Market  Fund 8.6%
13NCBA Money Market  Fund9.0%
14Old Mutual Money Market 9.2%
15Orient Kasha Money Market Fund 8.4%

How to choose the best Money Market Fund in Kenya

There is a set out criteria you can use to determine the best one for you based on your needs. Among the factors to consider include return on investment, minimum investment of each and liquidity. Based on these, here are some suggestions.

Interest

The MMF fund manager with the highest interest rate currently is Cytonn’s Money Market at an average annual rate of 10.6%. The other fund managers that come close in terms of high returns include Zimele MMF, Nabo Africa MMF, Apollo MMF and Sanlam with an average of above 9% interest annually.

Popularity & Market Share

CIC MMF has the highest market share compared to other fund managers. It is very popular because it attracts a relatively higher yield compared to other money market funds. Another contributing factor is it has been present in the market for long with the company investing in effective marketing of the product.

Liquidity

Any fund manager that is a bank, has a higher turn around time in terms of withdrawal. Case in point, NCBA; when you issue your instructions before 10am, your money reflects in your account on the same day by 4pm. 

If your fund manager is an insurance firm on the other hand, the turn around time for withdrawal takes longer. Case in point is CIC money market. When you place your instructions and they are processed, you need to wait  2 to 4 working days for you to receive money in your bank account. This is because the insurance firms are not the custodians whereas banks are.

Management Fee

All fund managers have a management fee ranging from 1.2% of interest to 2%. The fund manager that charges the least management fee is Sanlam at 1.2%. Most of the others have a management fee of 2%.

Initial Deposit

This is the minimum deposit required for every MMF. It differs from one fund manager to another. The one that requires the least initial capital is Zimele at KES 100. Others charge as much as KES 2,000, or KES 5,000.

Some Money Market Funds in Kenya & their key features

1. CIC MMF

Features

  • You can withdraw your money any time you wish. Your money will reflect in your account within 2 to 4 working days. A penalty fee of KES 1,000 applies if you withdraw more than twice a month.
  • It allows you to change or transfer your investment to another fund within CIC asset management

2. Cytonn MMF

Features

  • There is no fee charged on entry or exit
  • It currently has the highest return on investment in the market
  • They provide digital application forms through USD codes *809#
  • They share very details reports on the status of the market that can be quite insightful

3. Zimele MMF

Features

  • You need initial investment of as low as KES 100 and you can top up with a minimum of KES 100 as well
  • Withdrawal is usually between 2 to 4 working days for your money to be in your account
  • They provide quarterly statements that can be accessed online
  • They do not have entry or exit fees
  • The interest is compounded on an annual basis

4. Sanlam MMF

Features

  • It needs an initial capital of KES 2,500 and top up of KES 2,500 as well
  • There are no entry fees

5. Apollo MMF

  • It requires an initial capital of KES 10,000. Subsequent deposit or top ups should be of at least KES 2,000

6. Nabo Africa Money Market

  • It requires a minimum of KES 100,000 as initial capital. Top up should be of at least KES 10,000

7. NCBA MMF

Features

  • The minimum initial capital is KES 5,000 and minimum top up is KES 5,000
  • No joining fees or exit fees is charged to your account
  • They have the best liquidity in the market as well as customer service

8. Britam MMF

Features

  • The minimum initial capital is KES 1,000
  • It allows you to use your phone for deposits and withdrawals when you need to

How to open a Money Market account in Kenya:

Opening a money market fund is a very simple process. The steps will vary with the fund manager you invest with but for the most part, these are the general steps.

  • Do your research and determine which money market fund manager you will invest with. This should be guided by your needs.
  • You can visit your fund manager or give them a call if you have any inquiries or to get more insights on their fund.
  • You will have to fill a money market account opening form. 
  • You will then be required to deposit the minimum amount of money required to open an account. The amount varies with every MMF fund with most ranging between KES 2,000 to KES 5,000. You will deposit the cash to an account they will give you.
  • Once the account is created, you will receive an email with your portfolio number. This is to notify you that the account has been successfully created.
  • You will be guided on how to withdraw and deposit money into your money market account on a need basis.

What documents are required to open a Money Market:

  1. A copy of your National ID or your passport
  2. Passport size photo
  3. Your bank details
  4. Copy of your KRA Pin Certificate
  5. A filled money market form

Most fund managers have created mobile apps where you can tract your investment any time you wish. You can also directly issue your instructions through the app and receive monthlystatements.

Some of the factors to consider when picking the Money Market to invest in

Low risk investment

Money market is one of the safest investment tools in Kenya. This is because your principal is guaranteed despite the marketprevailing conditions. If you are risk averse, this is a product you should consider. The fund managers guarantee your principal and only invest in short term and low risk products.

Convenience

As an investor, you need to check how convenient your money market fund is. The convenience needs to be both when depositing the money into your account as well as when withdrawing. You need to know how easy you can access your money in your bank account. Another thing that can make it convenient is mobile apps as they provide you with a better user experience.

Return on Investment (ROI)

This is the whole point of investing in the first place, to get asignificant return. Money market interest rates range between 6% to 10% and some may go as high as 12% daily. It is important to note that the rates keep changing on a daily. Consider the ROI when investing so as to make financial sense.Remember to also leverage on compounding as it will give you a better ROI.

Liquidity

How soon can you access your money when you need it? This is key when looking for a money market fund to invest in. Liquidity differs as for some; you can get your money on the same day after requesting for it while for some you need to wait for two to four working days to get your money. If you are using MMF as an emergency fund then you need to know how soon you can have the cash.

Innovation, customer service & quality of research 

Since it’s a very competitive industry, pick an MMF fund manager who goes the extra miles. Most of them have come up with mobile applications to give the customer a better and easier experience. Pick a fund manager who sends you detailed reports and constantly updates you on relevant information in the market. Remember, they take a management fee so go for the one that gives you value for your money.

Tax Implications

Although MMF have lower taxes than conventional investments, its important to check the amount. This will be a determinant on whether to proceed and invest or not.

Advantages of Money Markets

Simple and easy product to invest in

This is as easy as ABCD. Second to a savings account, this is one of the most accessible products in the market. People can invest with as little as KES 100. Based on the money market you pick; you can also keep topping up using a pay bill number which is accessible using your phone or through USSD code. It is so simple to open a money market and the whole process can be done in under 10 minutes. You only need to fill a form, give a copy of your ID and a passport picture and you are good to go.

It is a passive income

Money market is one the best passive income product you can have. This means you earn money without necessarily having to do anything. There are skilled people who invest on your behalf who have expertise in the market, so you do not need to worry. You also get updated on a daily on the interest rates and monthly on how your investment is doing. 

If you have KES 1,000,000 in money market, you are likely to attract an interest of KES 100,000 (gross) if the interest is about 10% a year. If you invest in 10,000,00, you will get approximately KES 1,000,000 per year, same interest. This is significant cash given your capital will still be intact and you have not done the heavy lifting. The same may not be said about investing in businesses because you may lose part of your initial capital or take more than a year to even break even.

Remember in money market, the more money you invest, the more you get in interest. Most institutions invest their money in MMF and they form a bigger percentage of investors.

Low risk investment and preservation of capital

Compared to so many products, money market is one of the low-risk investment in the market. As an investor you are guaranteed of your principal and you do not lose it under any circumstances. This is a great product for risk averse investors. 

Regulation

If you want guarantee on safety, you need to invest in a product that is regulated like MMF. Most products in Kenya are regulated by the Capital Markets Authority. This means that CMA has oversight on the product and in most cases guide on how the trustees can invest in your money. The main purpose of regulation is to protect the client. This is wonderful for the investor because your interest are always protected and the fund manager is not allowed to invest irrationally and risk your money.

Liquidity

Money markets are very liquid compared to products like saccos, bonds and stocks. The funds in money market are only invested in financial securities that have very short maturity. This enables you to access your money very easily especially if your fund manager is a bank. Some fund mangers offer same day withdrawal. 

Yield

This is a product that gives investors a relatively higher yields than the other conventional investments like savings account. It’s a great way to save while making some money while at it.

Disadvantages of Money Markets

Varied return

Since the fund managers invest the pooled fund in different products, return varies. Return can sometimes be high but on the flip side, it can also be significantly low. This is a downside because you cannot tell for sure how much money you will make as interest since the return changes on a daily. When the market is down, or the investment doesn’t go too well then the client does not get the best return.

Low risk and low returns

The money market returns are significantly low return if you compare with other products. Notably low especially if you have little money. The interest is calculated per annum so if you count the monthly interest, it may not make much financial sense to you. For your money market to give you significant return, you need to invest more.

The golden rule for investment is the higher the risk, the higher the return. Since money market are extremely low risk, you should manage your expectations when it comes to interest.

Attached Costs 

If you look keenly, all money market funds have a cost attached to them. This is called the management fee. For most money market funds, its usually a percentage of what you make as interest. Most fees are at 2% and this is what is used to run the fund managers. Sometimes when you deduct the fees, the money you are left with is not much.

Penalties

Some money markets funds like CIC MMF have penalties if you fail to meet certain conditions. They allow you to withdraw a maximum of two times a month with no charges. If you withdraw more than twice in a month, you will be penalized KES 1,000 which is a significant chunk of your savings. Now, incase of emergencies and you need to access money severally, you will be penalized heavily which beats the whole point of investing.

Risk

Since money market funds are not issued by the government, there is an element of risk attached to them. Even though they are highly regulated and have the CMA oversight, sometimesfund mangers can go down or become bankrupt. The risk here is very minimum and not likely to happen but it still exists. Types of risks that money market face are; market risk, interest rate risk, default risk and counter party risk.

NOTE: Information on this article is based on information collected online. Please note that this is not financial advice, and do your research before investing your money anywhere.

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Dickson Otieno

I love reading emails when bored. I am joking. But do send them to editor@tech-ish.com.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for your you’re information . I want to save money with an intention of building a house , can I start saving on a monthly basis for a period of 1year . Which account can you advise me to open .

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