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‘Financial advice is a serious business and we would like serious players to come in’

The chief executive of the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), HN Sinor, in an exclusive interview with Moneylife’s Sanket Dhanorkar and Ravi Samalad. This is the second part of a two-part series

ML: There have been allegations that AMFI is controlled by big fund houses and that all big decisions are taken without the consensus of all the participants.

HNS:
I also heard about that but that’s not true. Our board of directors is itself in a way represented by both small and big fund houses. The second thing is that ever since I have come in here, after every board meeting we also have a general membership meeting where CEOs of all members come. So it is not only whatever we discuss at the board that I brief them on, but we also interact on various other issues collectively. So I don’t think anybody has a complaint now that his voice is not heard. Out of 42 members now, generally 30 to 34 members are present. It’s a good number. Normally all our meetings are followed by dinner. So everybody stays back and talks to one another. Yes I heard the murmur when I walked in here, but I don’t hear it now. It’s only 40 and not a very large number. I can understand that if our membership is in hundreds then you have a problem. I have the habit of using my email very regularly. So the CEOs are in the loop all the time.

ML: AMFI had warned some national distributors which also included banks who indulged in unfair investor poaching. Now that the trail commission has been stopped for both new and old distributors, is there any reduction in AUM switch?

HNS:
We have seen that between December and March there was a large amount of switches as a result of which we had to take this somewhat hard decision of not paying trail commission to either. The impact of this was that within 10 days switches came down. I have not received complaints thereafter.

ML: The National Institute of Securities Markets is now conducting the examinations for distributors. Apparently AMFI’s curriculum was not updated with the current changes in the mutual fund industry.

HNS:
NISM has already revised the syllabus. I came to AMFI just four months back and by that time the decision had already been taken to shift the educational certification to NISM. So I didn’t have much to say that time. It’s a graded examination. Ultimately the distributors have to use this as an advisory more than anything else and if they have to be a financial advisor I think their knowledge level has to be much better.

ML: AMFI has recently raised the ARN renewal fees across the board. You have also raised the new ARN registration fees. This move has drawn some criticism especially from smaller IFAs.

HNS
: This had not been revised for the last 10 years. Financial advice is a serious business and we would like serious players to come in. Earlier, unfortunately, we had made various concessions such as for senior citizens, assuming that it is one area for them to earn by way of commission. But today we have so many issues around mis-selling and SEBI has been rapping us on various issues. I think we have to become serious about who is distributing the products.

ML: Can you please share with us the investor education programme that you are conducting?

HNS:
This year we have decided to have almost 2,000 programmes across the country largely covering the top 100 city centres. That would mean not only the capital and State capital but district-level centres also. The work is already on. In the first two months we have been able to conduct 96 programmes and these are called ‘AMFI’s investor education programme(s)’, which is not a marketing pitch by any of the fund houses but is essentially to spread education and awareness about the products.

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COMMENTS

monil daru

6 years ago

if amfi will stop upfront & trail brokerage both,than who will sale/educate & guide the real & smaller retail investors?how an advisor will earn & survive?how an advisor will be faithfull to the business & client both?

Anil D Kale

6 years ago

Every AMFI & SEBI discourse is loaded in favor of investor protection but the issue here is who will educate the investor that too free of cost,it is neither AMFI or SEBI not even the M/F industry seems to be interested. Investor has nowhere to go but to depend solely on advisor who are poorly paid in terms of commissions hence investor also gets a poor advise on investments,hope these highly educated and powerful regulators are able to help the investor in his need for creating wealth.

Roopsingh

6 years ago

There is no match to double speech of SEBI-they are just following Gobells who used to say that if a LIE is spelt 100 times-it becomes a truth-same are excuses of SEBI regarding its actions-they are trying to BRAIN WASH masses with their lies

Manoj Tiwari

6 years ago

On the one end SEBI is desparate to ban any monatory benefit to distributor from AMC and advising them to negotiate with investor for the same. While on other you are taking about the serious players in the field and raising registration and other fee, updating curriculum for it. The day when distributor will not get any incentive from the AMC why will she be interested to get certified from you. Her art of impresing the inveator will be sufficient to ask fee from investor. And last but not the least that transaction is going to occur in cash you know.

Hemanshu Parekh

6 years ago

Higgest level of mis selling is still active in insurance where the first year commission is upto 35% -40%. The relevant regulator should be insisted to act there.

Ranjan D Gupta

6 years ago

SEBI took a hard decision abolishing Entry load totally basically for two reasons 1.To prevent mis-selling 2.to give some financial benefit to the investors.
Now so far as the first point is concerned there was better ways to eradicate mis-selling.First of all let us see why this mis-selling. The basic reason is the difference in commission payout structure of different schemes accross AMCs.Naturally some distributors used to be tempted to offer their clients those schemes which fetch them best commission and somehow they convince the investors to invest in that knowingly that the scheme is not doing well. To curb this practice there was no need to cut entry load.The solution was to standarise the commission structure accross all AMCs.If SEBI could bring the regulations that all AMCs should pay equal percentage of commission to the distributors for all equity schemes then such temptation would have vanished and mis-selling would stop.
Now come to the second point we observed that SEBI had already brought one regulation where an individual investor,having knowledge of different scheme can invest directly and thereby save entry load. Therefore any investor wants to save money on entry load is having open option to invest directly.So there was no necessity to further relax it for all investors. An investor who does not know anything about schemes must go to the advisors for advices and they need to pay entry load for that. The system should be such simple.Further if SEBI found that the entry load is much on a higher side it could be reduced by 50 or 75 basis points.

sachin

6 years ago

It seems AMFI is heavilty(entirely) made up of AMC and there is no representation of Distributors.

Perhaps that's why Distributors are being paddled by everyone in industry.

AMFI must also have distributors representations as well.

Bhupendra Kr Srivastava

6 years ago

Higher networth & Higher ARN Fee is not gaurenty that they are serious players not miss selling any financial product

Param

6 years ago

What a contradiction - for AMC, this guy says that higher net worth doesn't mean higher seriousness, but at the same time for distributors, he says that the higher ARN fees will ensure more serious players. It is time AMFI includes representation from Distributors, RTAs, banks, courier firms & finally investors...

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