Companies & Sectors
Fidelity woos smaller intermediaries to expand operations

Unable to expand through a combination of advertising and selling through national distributors, the fund house is empanelling smaller distributors now

Fidelity Fund Management Private Ltd, the US fund management major which launched its India operations in 2005, was so far following a pan-India distribution model by selling mutual funds through national distributors like banks. It is now trying to woo smaller intermediaries to expand its distribution network and to garner a larger pie of assets under management (AUM).

Earlier, Fidelity was only empanelling national distributors who could funnel Rs100 crore of AUM. A fund house may follow an ‘aggregation model’ wherein it ties up with national distributors who have a large distribution network of their own. This is a more cost-effective model for asset management companies (AMCs), wherein they don’t have to spend on resources like commercial office space, employees, etc. The AMC may cough up a higher commission to the national distributors for their services.

“As an advisor we are supposed to sell all mutual funds which are doing well for our customers. It’s a major business issue for us. We approached Fidelity for an agency several times, but it said that it would not empanel IFAs (independent financial analysts),” said Ramesh Bhatt, a Chennai-based IFA.
“This might be the case because Fidelity doesn’t want to operate with so many distributors across the country. In the UK, an intermediary needs to make a declaration every six months. An intermediary himself needs to follow all those rules. In India if you have an ARN number then you can get empanelled with any AMC,” said a top official from a leading fund house.

According to AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India) data, Fidelity had an average AUM of Rs7,683.90 crore as on March 2010, compared to Rs6,172.90 crore for the corresponding month last year. “Earlier I was told that they would not empanel me. I had to contact officials in Delhi. They gave me a special approval,” said Vivek Rege, MD, VR Wealthy Advisors Pvt Ltd.
Why has the company now decided to change its strategy? “They spent crores on advertising and brand building and now they find it difficult to get retail business. Brand recall does not guarantee business from customers,” said a Mumbai-based IFA, preferring anonymity.
According to sources, Suraj Kaeley, director (sales & business development) of Fidelity is trying to expand the company’s India network. Mr Kaeley, was earlier associated with Franklin Templeton Investments and Metlife India Insurance Company Ltd.

Earlier, small intermediaries who were not empanelled with Fidelity were routing their products through other large brokers. According to sources, Fidelity now carries out a stringent check on the intermediary’s bank details & creditworthiness, and investigates involvement in any litigation before empanelment.

Today, a spokesperson from Fidelity told Moneylife: "As part of Fidelity's plans to build a long-term business here, broad-basing our distribution capability has always been a key element. To that end, we have been expanding our distribution footprint by regularly empanelling distributors over the last five years since we started business and continue to do so."

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COMMENTS

dillip swain

7 years ago

you are only non-partial financial magazine in india.k.v.poojari(2nd comments) should know in india many investors turn part time agent not advisor & all FULL TIME advisors are investor.

Fidelity/j.p.morgan/quantum mfs are in same boat.All india ifas' should boycot them.These type of AMC has no ethics regarding marketing of their products.Really if they are interested for less cost effective & more investors' benifit,they should follow benchmark m/f.KEEP UR ETHICS DON'T RUN AFTER IFAS'

kishore ghiya

7 years ago

the policy of selling through large brokers was bound to fail from begining. They were very arrogant right from their entry in india. They forgot the power of small distributor with their client, now sebi has removed the entry load, it is all over and start once again for fidelity in india. i hope they have learnt the lesson and be more polite to their small agents. Mutual fund distributor and life insurance agents sell because of their relationship with their clients.

As a uti mutual fund equity based distributor wish them luck this time. They will need it.

K v Poojari

7 years ago

I am regularly following all your articles on your websitte as an investor.
But i fail to understand how this article is relevance to investor.
I am reading your website becasue i come to know inside of the advisors and commissions receivable by them form insurance and mutual fund corporations.

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