Technologies has many specialties and liabilities to evolve, nurture and grown up the happy means to deliver utmost simplification in day-to-day life. Indeed the Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) would have been sensed the similar feelings before executing the online trading platform for Mutual funds with aim to reduce its operational costs and address the issue of pan-Indian penetration.The online Mutual fund trading platform would probably do to the Mutual fund space what dematerialization of shares has done for the traders and investors in the equity market.
It will be an online arrangement where Mutual fund schemes can be transacted through the click of mouse; payment directly debited from the bank account and units purchased or sold will be credited or debited to the investors dematerialized account just like the way the shares are traded today; with similar convenience, redemption order will be accepted at a click of the mouse.
Overall the upcoming online platform which start to perform in new financial year (After March 2010) would provide the investors a consolidated view of all their Mutual fund holdings, apart from that platform will bring in simplicity and cost efficiency for investors and will help industry to expand its reach. An another impact of this move would be visible on achieving the goal of financial inclusion since internet as a medium has revolutionary binding over the awareness level; so many frills will be left out for the investors and friendly transaction with many new economy sized Mutual fund products would fuelled incentive for their participation.
Some apprehension regarding the inevitability of demat account for being in transaction have also sorted out as this new portal is not restricted to demat account holders alone; indeed no-frills approach of online trading would increase the transaction and transparency that further fuelled competition and price war between brokerage which eventually would led to highly competitive commissions.
Anyhow some confusion persists on the role of brokers and Independent Financial Advisors(IFA’s) who hitherto have been playing very crucial role in mobilizing around sixty percent of the financial investments in Indian Mutual fund businesses through their channels of recommendations. New platform will be linked to the demat account of the shareholder and the commission payable on every transaction shall be mutually determined between investor and their respective brokers, who will have to be a Depository Participant (DP).
Depository Participants are now present in more than thousand of Indian cities albeit they are hardly in touch to look after the future and just role of small brokers and IFA’S; so it would be better to let brokers manage Mutual fund online trading platforms, as separate infrastructure will defeat the purpose.
Likewise giving artificial support to small Mutual fund agents is hardly compatible in middle to long term perspective as competitive regime is required to infuse constructive morale of these small agents instead to compel them to survive on complementary bucks.
In the wake of SEBI’s move to scraping the entry load, small agents and distributors are facing outright erosion of their identity besides they left with very few options as Insurance sector has introduced D.Swaroop commission meanwhile, which are equally adverse to these middlemen’s. Presently only one lakh AMFI certified agents are in the field with comparison of twenty five lakh insurance agents, so there can be visualize a deep mismatch between demand and supply of effective financial councilors.
So, the present change in the landscape of Mutual fund businesses needs at least a relooking on the plights of consultancy complication since financial awareness level in our country is strikingly lower than counterparts in western and other advanced economies.
It’s worthwhile to note here that despite very high resilience of their economy, western financial regulators still trust and conferred better commission to these financial consultants; even before the scrapping of entry loads in India, there was margin of around four percent of brokerage from western economies. My concern here is not to imitate the western model but to cite the huge potential loss of employment in the wake of new regulatory changes in India…we definitely must go through the all intricacies of pros and cons of its potential outcomes.
Nevertheless, I heartily admire this new technological innovation because its effectiveness lies in many implicit and explicit forms as we have seen previously in the case of Banking and Telecommunication sector in last few years in our country.
Technology both at individual and collective level plays very formative role in preparing the humane psyche to adjust with high end targets; being a very resilient and swiftly emerging economy, Indian economy is indeed ready to upfront with such large scale innovation to achieve the goal of impressive financial literacy as well as financial inclusion. Looking through the technological experiments in past, we can be sanguine about its meticulous performance at Mutual fund arena and further becoming a source for such other innovation in the domains of Indian financial sector.
Atul Kumar Thakur
November29th2009, New Delhi