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Media Ethics: A mirror for the media

Review of the book Media Ethics
 

Be it the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj killing case, the...

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Life Exclusive
Safe blood for the needy

Think Foundation is about blood, the key to our survival, and blood-related ailments, Alekh Angre reports

Ironically enough, Think Foundation is not about thought, except that campaigning and coordination for blood donation is born out of good thoughts. Think Foundation is about blood, the key to our survival, and blood-related ailments. Only those who have desperately tried to find blood during emergencies, or have been harried about finding donors to match rare blood groups know the time and effort involved. Many a time, finding blood banks is difficult enough and they may be unable to meet a patient’s need. It is as an answer to these issues that Think Foundation was set up in 2006 as a not-for-profit organisation.

In 1980, Vinay Shetty, then a student (now vice president at Think Foundation), conducted a blood donation drive for Mumbai-based Nair Hospital. The drive was a great success, but Vinay’s real aim was to start and maintain the list of donors. Soon, he started receiving calls  inquiring about donors with particular blood groups. “We (he and a few friends) responded to the calls, identified donors and sent them to hospitals which had specific requirements,” he says.
As the calls increased, Mr Shetty and his friends became regular visitors at various hospitals, coordinating and arranging the blood requirements. In 1998, Breach Candy Hospital contacted him to inquire about their work and urged his group to also spread awareness on thalassaemia.

After reading and meeting people working with thalassaemia patients, he decided to pitch in with some specific activities. It started with the formation of charitable trust ‘Citizen’ along with his six friends. Its mission was to give a thrust to promoting blood donation and creating awareness about thalassaemia. With donations trickling in from individuals, its activities grew. In 2006, Citizen was renamed Think Foundation after registering it under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.

The Foundation conducted around 300 blood donation drives in colleges and companies in 2011 and worked at encouraging voluntary blood donation. It works closely with about 60 blood banks in Mumbai and is apparently the only organisation to have donors with the rare ‘Bombay blood group’. “I can guarantee that people who need this blood group anywhere in the country, will eventually come to us,” says Mr Shetty.

For thalassaemia patients, Think Foundation conducts screening camps for college students (as part of its prevention drive) and counselling for those detected with thalassaemia minor. Mr Shetty says, “Anybody with thalassaemia minor is perfectly healthy. A child is born with thalassaemia major when both his parents are thalassaemia minor. So it is essential for people to get themselves tested. It will help to stop thalassaemia. It will also help blood banks, as most of the blood is used for kids with thalassaemia major.” Last year, Think Foundation conducted 150 screening camps. It also runs seven day-care centres across the city where thalassaemia major children are provided with blood transfusion facility, along with  iron chelation tablets, essential for the treatment, free of cost.


Think Foundation runs a Lifesavers’ Club, which has a list of platelet donors and coordinates with them as well as blood banks whenever there is a request for platelets. The organisation campaigns actively about stem cell therapy and wants to ensure that India has a functional stem-cell registry. Mr Shetty believes that stem-cell therapy is a solution for thalassaemia as well as leukaemia and other blood disorders.  

Think Foundation also provides educational support to needy children and financial help on a case-by-case basis. Currently, it receives funding from individuals as well as corporate houses. You can volunteer for the various activities conducted by Think Foundation, apart from making financial donations which are exempted under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.

Think Foundation
A-101, Valmiki Apartments,
Sunder Nagar, Kalina, Santa Cruz (East),
Mumbai 400 098.
Contact- 91-22- 6518 1341/ 6518 1343
Email- vinay@thinkfoundation.org
www.thinkfoundation.org

User

Can SEBI do much about poor mutual fund performance?

SEBI chief UK Sinha is concerned about mutual fund underperformance but what action can the regulator really take, given its hand-off regulatory policy

Underperformance of mutual funds seems to be a cause of concern for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). At the CII Mutual Fund Summit yesterday, SEBI chairman UK Sinha said, "There are nine fund houses where over a period of three years, 50%-100% of their schemes have performed less than the scheme benchmarks. So, imagine if more than half of their schemes over a period of time on a continuous basis have been performing less than their benchmarks."

"If it is happening on a continuous long-term basis for a significant percentage of the schemes then it becomes a SEBI issue," he said.

The regulator has also said it will engage with fund managers and CEOs of these asset management companies (AMCs) to understand why their funds are trending below their benchmarks on a continuous basis. The SEBI chairman further states, "The credibility of the industry and the credibility of the individual fund houses, their trustees shareholders directors, it is important that these matters are discussed and remedial measures are taken."

Mr Sinha may be right in saying that underperformance is a concern but what action can SEBI take? SEBI keeps on saying that investor protection and transparency is its top priority, but what action has SEBI taken in the past? SEBI in the past has come out with regulations where fund companies have to disclose their fund manager performance and a fund manger should not be allowed manage two or more similar schemes, these and many more. This would help the investor to a certain extent but what more?

Moneylife is only publication that has consistently highlighted underperforming fund houses. (Recent Articles: Equity Mutual Funds to avoid at all costs , Fund Performance: Worst Equity Funds ). What we have noticed most of the schemes which are consistently underperforming come from the same set of fund houses. Such gross underperformance over different periods can't go unnoticed by the AMC and the trustees. But SEBI has not done the only thing it could have done-question the trustees.

We did analysis of the top 20 fund houses as per AUM over a five-year monthly rolling periods from April 2006 to March 2012. We only considered consistent underperformers, that is, those that have underperformed the benchmark in the last 12 rolling periods. As you can see, LIC Nomura MF and JM Financial MF top the list of underperformers. Even in the last three-yr period ended 15 June 2012, all the schemes of these two fund houses have failed to perform.
 
Underperformance: 5-year monthly rolling period ending March 2012

Underperformance: 3-year as on 15th June


These are just equity schemes of select fund houses. They charge the highest from the investor for managing the fund and such is the performance. The least the investor would expect is returns on par with the benchmark. Even the index fund of LIC has given below par returns. Unless SEBI takes active interest and introduces stricter norms, AMCs would continue their business as usual.

Given that India has adopted a hands-off disclosure-based regime (meaning, a man charged with murder can make a public issue as long as he discloses it in the prospectus), it would be interesting to see how SEBI can change anything by calling mutual fund CEOs, trustees and fund managers for a chat. Any other action would have to be justified by activist regulatory stance, which SEBI is neither mandated nor equipped to carry out.

User

COMMENTS

Ravindra

5 years ago

It was a mistake, though well intentioned, to bring the entry load from 2.5% to zero in one shot. For Indian mindset it should have been reduced to 1% which would have still encouraged the agents (maybe 90% of them) to sell MFs.

Prakash

5 years ago

Main Important matter is to fraud and wrong practices adopted by Mututal fund Manager

As I said SEBI must look JM agri and infra fund and purchase made by that particular fund manager who is already facing criminal charges for his earlier manipulation

Same way front buying by some related people is also serious issue

Similarly inferior quality midcaps bought by fund managers in some cases they take bribe and buy junks all should be investigated

Jayant

5 years ago

Being a mutual fund distributor myself I have been consistently writing in various fora that SEBI has shifted the entire blame of investors losses during the financial meltdown on to Distributors. No action or comment has been made till now about the culpability of Fund Managers. I have mantained that the blame for this, if not mainly by fund managers, should be shared at least equally by both, fund managers and distributors. Finally at least SEBI has broken its silence, though I doubt very much if any action can or will be taken. A larger issue would be to investigate what kind of performance bonuses have been paid out to these errant fund managers for their underperformance. I will not be surprised if it has been incremental.

REPLY

Sandeep

In Reply to Jayant 5 years ago

It's high time that SEBI/AMFI/Mutual Fund CEOs/Fund Managers start realizing that "When an investor puts money in any financial instrument he expects some kind of positive return-that is the tangible. You can't satisfy him by saying that oh! you lost money in last 5 years but we beat the benchmark so we get our fat bonus"

Of all the open ended MF schemes (equity/debt/liquid/hybrid) available for last 5 years, only 5% have been able to beat the inflation. So much for the fund management expertise. The whole mutual fund industry is held hostage to few dozen fund managers who want to keep their job secure by cloning the benchmark (or being close to it) not worrying about millions of investors who need actual/positive/inflation beating returns.

Jayant

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Sandeep,
You must realise that a mutual fund in itself is not an asset class. An investment in a mutual fund is an investment in the underlying asset class which is mandated by the objectives of the fund. Therefore, for instance, if you invest in a fund whose underlying asset class, or what it invests in, is gold; then you cannot complain that the fund has underperformed aginst another fund which invests in silver. Thus a fund's performance has to be compared with its benchmark index, in the above instance it would be the Gold index. If your Gold Fund is tracking the Silver prices then your fund manager has done something drastically wrong, irrespective of the fact that the fund may have given better returns than tha Gold Index.
Next time when you invest in a mutual fund please read the offer document carefully as is stated in every advert and literature published by the Asset Management Company. If you invest in a large cap fund, then do not expect it to track the returns of the Mid Cap index or vice versa. Or if you invest in a debt fund then do not compare it to the returns offered by the Sensex or an equity fund.

Sandeep

In Reply to Jayant 5 years ago

Jayant, what u mentioned is absolutely clear. Point is that, sticking too close to the benchmark (in the portfolio) affects the funds performance and doesn't use the full potential of fund manager's expertise. For ex if a large cap fund is giving returns simillar to its benchmark i.e. Sensex or BSE 100 (whatever is mentioned in the offer doc.) what's the point of Active Fund management. Might as well invest in a passive index fund with low mgmt fee and low tracking error. Fund managers of an active fund r supposed to use their stock selection/market timing skills to generate Alpha/get superior returns. Benchmark is for reference only.

Anyways its good that SEBI/AMFI have now taken note of the performance aspect of MF's. With investor activism, even fund managers will wake up to the fact that they need to deliver for the industry to survive.

Deepak R Khemani

In Reply to Sandeep 5 years ago

Expecting fund Managers to deliver consistently year on year is impossible, see for yourself the schemes that were 5 star rated 5 years ago are now recommended as a sell or a switch to the now 5 star rated funds, fund performance is based on movements of the stocks selected by the fund manager on expectations of future performance and not on the previous history of the fund.
The key here is asset allocation for a customer, if he has all his investments in equity and expects positive returns every year then he needs to change his adviser. What is important is that an investor invest wisely across asset classes to generate inflation beating returns over a period of time!
But if a fund has been consistently under performing then it is for the AMC and its trustees to step in and ask serious questions to its fund managers who are being paid fat salaries for under performance!

pravsemilo

5 years ago

Sometime back it was written in Moneylife that fund management charges should be based on the performance. I guess that move would really help.

We can't have a fund manager invest his own money. What if the fund manager's only asset is real estate or gold - something which can't be liquified.

Another welcome move could be making the salary of fund manager public - in the scheme document itself and perhaps a rough break up of fund management expenses.

Nilesh KAMERKAR

5 years ago

SEBI may have to go into the details & identify the reasons for long term under performance of a mutual fund scheme.

If negligence, incompetence, non-adherence to investment objective or fraudulent intent is the cause for such under performance than the amc cannot be allowed to charge recurring expenses till under performance is corrected & more importantly

Some mechanism needs to be put in place for recovering the asset management fees charged by the amc on annual basis during the 5 year period of under performance.

Also, It would work as a booster dose for reviving the fortunes of MF industry if an AMC is not allowed to charge fund management fees to those schemes where the unit holder is losing / or has losses for a certain stipulated period (as may be specified by SEBI.. )





Anmol

5 years ago

I must say - hats off to the moneylife for pointing out the truth. The elephant in the room is that most long only mutual funds underperform the sensex, or at best track it. India is not the only country where this happens, though. Fidelity charges billions in stockpicking fees only to underperform the index. I doubt there is much SEBI can do about it. Humans convince themselves that they can control certain things, whereas in reality, they can't.

Madhur Kotharay

5 years ago

SEBI should worry more of the funds sticking to their mandate than their outperformance. The mandate decides the funds' actions, the stock prices are not really in their hands.

Often, in their dash for outperformance, funds tweak their mandates. Infrastructure funds invests in banks (financial infrastructure), Bharti (communication infrastructure), and Educomp (academic infrastructure). What's left? Sun Pharma (medical infrastructure)? Shree Renuka Sugars (culinary infrastructure)? :-) Even if such funds outperform the benchmark, they should be thumped by SEBI.

On the other hand, I find a curious SEBI comment: Nearly half the funds in different categories have underperformed their benchmarks. That is going to happen, like in the USA, as mutual fund AUM increases. By definition, the benchmark is made up of all investors' holdings combined. For some to outperform the average, some have to underperform.

Sandeep

5 years ago

“I am not concerned with absolute returns of my schemes, my job is to outperform the benchmark” says a fund manager in a leading financial daily of the country. Conversations with many CIO’s, Fund Managers over last 15 years have revealed that the fund manager’s remuneration is linked to their performance against the benchmark and the peer group. This is a major source of complacency and callousness among the fund manager community. This is also the biggest difference between the objective of an investor who is interested in absolute returns, and the fund manager whose primary motive is to protect his job by giving returns close to the benchmark.
Typical benchmarks that are used in India are Nifty, Sensex, and BSE 100 etc. Now let us understand the composition of benchmark- the companies in the benchmarks are the biggest companies by Market Capitalization from different sectors (with different weights based on free float etc). These are not necessarily the best companies of the country to invest in as far as quality of management, efficiency, financial performance and many other parameters are concerned. Some of the names appear like the ultimate giants based on sheer Turnover figure or Market Capitalization (thanks to the bloated equity, government patronage etc) but they do not inspire any confidence at all.

Quite often when a particular sector becomes flavour of the season etc. (remember the Tech boom and the Infrastructure boom), the stock price of the leaders of that sector zooms to stratospheric heights hence market cap goes up, they get included in the Indexes (these are the benchmarks for the Mutual Funds). When the sector goes bust, prices many times fall to less than 5% of their peak values and ultimately lead to exit of these companies from benchmarks….. remember Satyam, Zee, Unitech - this may be fine for a benchmark but when a scheme replicating (well almost) the benchmark does the same thing they are just destroying investors wealth - its literally buy high and sell low -which goes against basics of investing. It’s not unusual to see a company getting included in the benchmark when its stock price is in four digits and getting excluded when the price is in double digits. .. And the fund managers take great pride in beating such benchmarks. So if a stock gets included in benchmark at 2000 and is kicked out at 50 and the fund manager who mimics the benchmark or even beat it slightly ( having bought at 1800 and sold at 70) he is not doing great justice with investors money.

Deepak R Khemani

5 years ago

Schemes have a benchmark because SEBI mandates them to do so, The benchmark is only a reference, the fund manager tries to generate alpha by investing stocks which may not necessarily be a part of the benchmark. If indexed performance is required then the ideal scheme would be an index fund but as the table above suggest even index fund are under performing, also barring a few funds most MF's have schemes which are under performing their benchmarks. Such things over a period of time should not be allowed, there may be a quarter or even a year when some schemes have underperformed which is tolerable. Sustained under performance requires action from the AMC and the trustees of that AMC whose job is to oversee the performance of the Fund managers who are being paid fat salaries and to whom investors have trusted their hard earned money.

D B DESAI

5 years ago

Non performing schemes and AMCs have to be penalised. But who will make good losses of the investors? SEBI or GOVT has to act very very fast and there should be more clarity in regulation. As RBI takes setps to merge weak banks into stronger ones or initiates action before the debacle of the bank, SEBI should also work on the same lines. Whenever a scheme goes below benchmark it should immediately take corrective action. People at large should also be made more aware and educated about the products and regulations related to the same. In this respect there must be some system to identify genuine advisors who are interested in imparting proper product knowledge and guiding the investors correctly and they should berewarded properly. Ethical selling of financial products must be considered as an important and necessary quality rather than technology, offices and other such decorative things.

arun adalja

5 years ago

sebi can ask amcs to give incentives to arn holders who was giving good business in the past and they were taking care of the investors in all respect.for simple things one has to go to several channels to get the things done.make a simple thing pan card is enough for all transactions.

shivaji rao

5 years ago

Perhaps SEBI or Moneylife can periodically publish the performance of week MFs so that investors can get out of the scheme without losing much.Which will innturn make the Fund operators to change their methodology.

Another thing I would suggest that let the regulatory not insist on KYC evry now and then as it is in the interest of the investor to keep informed the Fund or Bank about any change .

PPM

5 years ago

Let SEBI first remove the paper work like KYC, revised KYC etc. PAN card should be enough to invest.

To purchase an ULIP, no documentation is required but for MFs, its lot of paper work which are in no way improve the system.

Jayanand Govindaraj

5 years ago

Of course it is possible. The solution is actually very simple. All SEBI has to do is to mandate that a fund manager should have every rupee of his own net worth in the funds he manages. This will straighten out every fund manager in next to no time. The great Julian Robertson used to have this as a non negotiable condition for anyone working in Tiger Management in its heyday.

REPLY

ROOPSINGH

In Reply to Jayanand Govindaraj 5 years ago

VERY GOOD IDEA ,THIS PRE CONDITION SHOULD BE MADE COMPULSORY IN INDIA BY AMC'S ,THEN ONLY FUND MANAGERS WILL COME TO FEEL THE PINCH OF NON PERFORMANCE OF THEIR FUNDS AND COME TO UNDERSTAND PAIN OF POOR INVESTORS.

gkrishna

5 years ago

if we want to grow the MF industry and need the retail investors to participate, regulators have to come out with strict norms. Fund houses are buring investors money and they are still running their business. Have seen in recent past JM Core 11 started in 2008 and the current NAV is less than Rs 3.50. JM Tax Gain started in Dec 2007 and the current nav is Rs 5.74. We can imagine when investors will get there principal amt of investment from such schemes.

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