Insurance companies try to woo commission-starved mutual fund distributors

Many insurance companies are trying to empanel distributors whose earlier core business was mutual funds, especially after the ban on entry load on funds by SEBI

A few days back, a Chennai-based certified financial planner (CFP) allegedly received an email communication from Aviva Life Insurance detailing two business proposals from the insurer.

The first model is ‘Business Service Associate’ (BAS) under which one distributor has to refer at least one person to the company who can pass an Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA) examination. The distributor who referred this person enters into an agreement with the company after which he gets a business code. The former gets an amount from all the business generated by the new agent.

Moneylife could not confirm from the company that such a communication emerged from their end. The Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) who received this proposal was not available for immediate comments either. Distributors contacted by Moneylife indeed confirm that various insurance companies have approached them with similar proposals in the past and they have refused to be part of such a deal. These distributors’ core business area was selling mutual funds (MFs). Since the ban on entry load by the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), smaller intermediaries who found it unviable to continue selling MFs have been gradually shifting towards insurance products, especially Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs), which offer better commissions.

“I sell only relationship and trust with my client. It will be very difficult to stay in the business if you start selling for the extra commissions. They had met me in my office. I have received several proposals like this, which I had refused,” said Thiru Murugan, CEO, Wealth Creation & Management Services.

The benefits of this business BAS model were detailed in the email are as follows: Distributor A gets an average 20% commission in the first year plus an additional overriding commission ranging from 30%-55% and around 5% from the second year onwards. The proposal also assured marketing and advertisement support for the scheme including reimbursements of stationery, phone and staff expenses.

The second proposal is ‘Corporate Alternate Database’ (CAD), also similar to the first plan. Unlike the first plan, here the distributor only has to refer a client to the company’s exclusive manager who advises the client. Here the IFA gets 20%-55% commission depending on the product bought by the investor. Financial advisors say that such business models are prevalent among many insurance companies.

While some intermediaries question the morals of such proposals, others say that if the business is done in a fair manner there is nothing to worry about.

Established distributors believe that they prefer not to work on a referral model as it can be detrimental to their long-term relationship with the client. Financial advisors say that insurance companies have been wooing them since more than a year and especially after the SEBI’s ban on entry load.

“These sorts of plans are business models with all leading companies with minor changes but the spirit is the same. I don’t see anything wrong as long as all people are properly licensed and you work as a team manager and licensed individuals work under your code,” said Vivek Rege, CFP, VR Wealth Advisors Pvt Ltd.
“It’s like you start a business and they fund it. They don’t want to manage a big team under them. Recruiting under payroll is becoming an issue. Since IFAs know the business well they want us to sell ULIPs. They want us to manage it because IFAs can motivate better,” added Mr Rege.

“They (insurance firms) have approached me for this. In fact, since the ban on entry load by SEBI in August, I started getting calls from insurance companies. I don’t agree with this concept. I don’t want to become empanelled just for the sake of business. When I told them about my view, they (insurance firms) never got back to me. Insurance companies are not interested in selling other products like term insurance. Commission is good but I run a risk of losing all my customers whom I know from quite some time,” said Harish Mohan, MD, Time Financials.



Tejas shah

7 years ago

Dear Mr.Roopsingh,
Please understand and compare all charges of Birla sunlife classic life premier with and other fund. The fund management charge is a killer as far as expenses are concerned with mf also. i have done it. I am proud to sell ULIP's and my clients are happy. Mr.Bhave made a mess by following what D.Swaroop said and applied in his system. Today PFRDA's NPS is bleeding very badly. There's no business even after so many benefits.


7 years ago

Mr Dilip,i guess u did not understand my point when i call my self a courier or rather messenger-just bcos we dont manufacture financial products-we are informed by the manufacrers about that product and we spread information-
do u think once top ranking JM basic,HDFC core and satellite,or ICICI emerging star funds will be beaten so severly?did any IFA had knowledge that these top funds will go in last rows -
we did not-and today also we cannot predict abt any funds or products performance-
this is bcos we are not in touch with those cos or bonds where the fund manager is putting money-
and there comes the real problem-
if we take responsibilty to a client abt any guarantee of performance of the fund in comparison to other benchmark funds-then we can be proved wrong-
we may be very very knowledgeble and expert about product history but we cant be sure of its future-
we can make only assumptions-
so advising is a real real tough job-which we try to do-but in doing this we are just spreading the products aming client base-
so i call ourselves as messengers-just like a medical representative gives advice to medical stores abt a medicine-but he can never give guarantee of success rate of medicine-bcos he is not manufacturing-he is just marketing-so our job is spreding and marketing financial products-
we should avoid any guarantee to our clients-either you call it advisory or you call it marketing-
but when we call ourselves advisor it becomes a matter of responsibilty which cannot be taken for mere1 or 2 % in this unceratin financial world-
i have written all this just so that we IFA do not get caught in any trouble with disputes to clients-if markets dont perform as per our assumptions-
i have adopted this strategy-and all others are free to awork in their style-choice is theirs-i hope you understand my point

rakesh bhatia

7 years ago

Suhas,whatever you stated is very polite and true-this has been conveyed to authorities several times and several ways-but why this has not been listend is a BIG SECRET-may be a bib big hidden agenda-
so lets wait for the time to come when deaf and blind authorities will accept their mistake of nullyfying the MF industry-
they will one day realise that this was a big mistake-
let the time come-those who trying to corner out the MF industry are yhose who are all culprits for bigger scandals-they have big skeletons hidden-some day justice will be done

Prem Panjwani

7 years ago

How can company aviva or any other insurance company can pay to two people for the one business I Mean one premium one to BAS and other the agent recurrited thru them_ how and what r they showing in their book of account for such payout_ if company can tamper book of account for payout they can tamper premium and other profitability issue and subsequently will be cheating our Indian policy holder_ what is our regulator IRDA is doing in this matter- every nook n corner we are getting calls form insurance company _ It is big danger will burst the Indian economy in future for misselling - of insurance_IRDA pls conrol the same

abhishek jain

7 years ago

People like dilip swain dont understand PMS or may be selling some other .it is much more transparent than any other product.PMS is much more liberty.

suhas varadkar

7 years ago

 Mutual Fund penetration in India is just 5% of investible surplus way below the developed country’s figures which are more than 40% of investible surplus; where standard norms for investor protection are maintained.

 Mutual Funds charge 2.25% Entry Load to the investors and pay the same to Distributors after deducting 12.36% Service Tax. This is direct source of revenue for the Government, in addition to the 30% Income Tax paid by the distributors. Hence the net earning of Distributors is only 1.25%, negligible compared to the Expertise provided and Service rendered. In addition he works for diverting money to the better return products so that the investor is benefited in the long run and serves for the better cause of the country.

 In India there are lot of other investment products where there are NO CONTROLS on investment objectives, disclosures of portfolios, declaration of NAVs, Registration of Companies, intimation of risks to clients etc for the case of INVESTOR PROTECTION and no noise is made.

 Mutual Fund industry is considered to the most regulated industry in any country, where the Structure, AMCs, Investment pattern of various schemes, Expenses are all authorized within the limits.

 Considering the financial intellectual of the common Indian investor it is really Herculean task to bring the investor to MF Products where the returns are not guaranteed (like the fixed rate products), and even the past is never the indicator for the future growth. Therefore the intellectual capacity of both the Financial Advisor as well as the Investor is at high level of understanding. Investments are to be made projecting the growth story; understanding the economy and considering the risk capacity of investor.

 There should be level playing field among the distributors of all categories of investment avenues; like in Post-Office, Bank FDs, Company FDs & Shares, RBI Bonds where 1-2% commission is distributed for promotion as well as distribution cost for these products. In case of Insurance Products commission distribution is very high: 15-40%, which is illogical even to common mind. Insurance companies never inform their customers the LOAD they charge on various policies. These companies are not even informing yearly portfolio and valuation / NAVs to their investors. AND NO NOISE IS MADE.

Let us hope Government/SEBI/AMFI will provide level playing field for all.

Dillip kumar swain

7 years ago

Mr ROOP SINGH providing his comments in wrong place.First thing IFA are not courier boy,they are advisor.Executives of industry are white elephant courier boy/collecting agent I wellcome if amc has DUMM hire salaried people.PMS is TOTALLY bogus product for any kind of investors.If u believe in gamble, then it is ok.


7 years ago

todays article abt KOTAK PMS has revealed the hidden fact that no one is expert in this field-
so if a surgeon makes a opeartion with only luck by chance and not by his skills-will any body pay fees?
i have always wrote that we IFA's are mere mere courier people-we should be pid commission same like a medical rpresentaive gets for his selling-if IFA"s dont sell-AMC's will hire salried people-
things will not change mere by laws-
Mr Bhave should realsie that what are results coming of his actions-are they really benifitting the investor or benifitting stock marekt exchnage brokers or so called EXPERT PMS managers?


7 years ago

for yor kind information i sell only mutual funds-and i am trying to just keep on going with present scenario which we never dreamed which has been created by honourable Mr BHAVE-
it is really very tough to LIVE with morals in heart-bcos most people are lured by words and by presentaion methods-very few understand the genuinity of a honest broker-
but i have faith in my heart that some day truth will come to surface-and they will get their due position-
with todays article abt PMS fiasco launched by most of broking firms and MF cos-it has been revealed that normal diversified equity funds are far better managed then of most other schemes-
and in due course regulator will realsie that KILLING MF will kill every other avenue-bcos every retail investor is here to make profits-not losses-
his losses become sprofits of few-
when this retail guy will vanish-no one wil survive-
remeber LION cant survive without herbivorous-if lion eats up every cow goat-he will starve to death-


7 years ago

Mr SURI- dont blame moneylife team-bcos these are the journalist who report from the ground realities unlike other publications-the facts provided are utter truth-i am getting daily calls from all of insurance cos-many invited to come to office-everyone offerd a handsome package-but that was at the cost of my clienst pocket-which i do not want to be cut-so i just refuse them starightly that i dont sell insurance-
today i can go and meet my cleints proudly with eye to eye contact just bcos i did not cheat them-
most clients tell me story of their ulips being too much undervalued-and some even threat to pull the collor of that run-away agent who sold them such policy-most of them have been cheated by their own young cousins-wher they cant make a fight-
i guess Mr Suri u wont blame me for manipulating these comments-as u have commented for moneylife team-
i can write still more if u will raise any doubts about my comment-



In Reply to Roopsingh 7 years ago

Mr. Rupesh,

Thanks for your response. Perhaps I went a little overboard.

It is a fact that Insurance Cos as well as MFs try to reach the mktg force each of the other for the elementary reason that the market is more or less the same.

This has nothing to do the "Commission Starved MF Agents". My objection was for the very word and the attempted inference there from. It is belittling the entire profession and is certainly painful to those who make every attempt to live up to their name how so ever small in number they are. Are all Doctors, Lawyers, Journalists, Accountants Bad? Yet we find quite a few of them doing the wrong deeds in conduct of their profession which should not be projected as a general way of life in media. And if it is done, it should be protested.

Sincerely appreciate your response and share many of your views.




7 years ago

This chap Ravi Samalad is really "NEWS STARVED".

He wants to cook up a believable story and publish in his name, no matter if there isn't any truth in it.

I strongly object to his terminology
"commission-starved mutual fund distributors".

Neither Insurance Companies nor the MF Distributors are that third rate as he is trying to project.

Knowing nothing about the industry and the people working for it for ages, suddenly these journalists come and write nonsense and also find access to their writings to be published. In fact such Journalists are livelihood starved.


Hemant Beniwal

7 years ago

Why after ban on Entry Load in Mutual Fund, many agents started selling Structured Products, PMS from Mutual Fund Companies or Highest NAV Gurantee Plans from Insurance Companies? No prize for answer.

Keep it Simple Stupid

Govt to bring in law for body to regulate medical education

The MCI would be replaced by a seven-member body of eminent doctors, which will look after the functions of the council

The government would soon bring in a law for the formation of a body to regulate medical education in the country and till then a seven-member panel of doctors will replace the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI), which has been dissolved, reports PTI.

Health secretary Sujatha Rao today said a draft law for the formation of such a body would be formulated within a month.

"We have suggested an over-arching body, which will be responsible for maintaining standards and regulation of medical colleges," she told reporters adding that the draft law would be a legislative response to the credibility crisis which the MCI was in.

The Union Cabinet is understood to have yesterday decided in-principle to dissolve the MCI whose chief Ketan Desai has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on graft charges.

Rao said that an ordinance in this regard was awaiting the President's assent. An ordinance is required since the MCI was created by an act of Parliament.

Desai was arrested on 22nd April by CBI for allegedly accepting bribe of Rs2 crore to give permission to a Punjab medical college to recruit a fresh batch of students without having requisite infrastructure. He has already submitted his resignation to MCI vice-president PC Kesavankutty Nair.

In Mumbai, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad when asked about the ordinance, indicated that this was required as there was no law by virtue of which action could have been taken against the MCI.

Mr Azad said the MCI was created by an Act of Parliament.

"That had given them absolute power. In that Act there was no provision of suspension or even a show-cause notice".

"So we have to take some action," he said.

Sources said the MCI would be replaced by a seven-member body of eminent doctors, which will look after the functions of the council. Among the names doing the rounds for heading the panel are former AIIMS director P Venugopal.

The main functions of the MCI, set up under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933, are to ensure uniform standards in medical education and grant of recognition to medical degrees awarded in India and abroad.

The government had earlier proposed an amendment to the MCI Act in 2005 to ensure some amount of government control over the body. But the proposal had been negated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.


FMC gives nod to MCX initial public offer

Currently, MCX enjoys market leadership with a share of over 75% in volumes traded on commodities exchanges in India

The country's top commodity bourse Multi Commodity Exchange has received the permission from commodity market regulator Forward Markets Commission (FMC) for launching the initial public offer (IPO), reports PTI.

"The Commission on 22 April 2010 has granted the permission/no objection certificate (NOC) to MCX for its proposed IPO subject to certain conditions," FMC said in a statement.

Two years back, MCX had got the NOC for launching the IPO from the regulator, after which the exchange sought the approval from the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). However, in August 2008, the exchange decided to scrap its IPO plan to sell six million shares as turbulent stock markets sapped investors' appetite for risk.

As the NOC expired recently, the exchange had applied for its renewal. Under FMC rule, it is mandatory for commodity exchanges to get NOC from the regulator for launching its IPO.

Asked if MCX would file fresh prospectus, the exchange's spokesperson told PTI, "We have not filed any draft red-herring prospectus (DRHP) and have not finalised any timeframe. So we cannot comment now."

Currently, MCX enjoys market leadership with a share of over 75% in volumes traded on commodities exchanges in India. The turnover of the exchange was Rs6,03,455 crore in April.


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