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Sebi may segregate retail, institutional MF schemes

This article was posted on Sep 26, 2009 and is filed under Press Releases

In a bid to protect the interests of retail investors, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is planning a clear segregation of retail and institutional schemes. Sources said Sebi might ask fund houses to create separate portfolios and net asset values (NAVs) for retail and institutional schemes.Sebi is working on the move as during the liquidity crunch of October 2008, fund managers sold the most liquid stocks in their portfolio to meet redemption pressures, leaving retail investors in a spot.

At present, although mutual funds offer both retail and institutional plans, these are separate only in the name as their portfolio and NAVs are the same. The only difference is the expense ratio, which is more for retail investors. Sources said Sebi was looking at doing away with this disparity as well.

Vineet Arora, head of products & distribution at ICICI Securities, said, “It is a welcome move. There is an obvious difference in behaviour between retail and institutional investors. Institutions tend to panic more than retail investors. Since redemption pressures are more from institutions, schemes for them will have to keep more cash, which may impact returns.”

Mutual funds charge 2-2.5 per cent from retail investors in equity schemes. The fee for institutional investors is only 0.5 per cent. The expense ratio is the percentage of a mutual fund’s net assets/corpus that goes towards meeting its expenses. The ratio covers fund management fees, marketing and selling expenses, and registrar fees. Funds with lower expenses give better returns, which is one reason why institutional schemes post better returns than retail ones. A case in point is ICICI Prudential’s Focussed Equity Fund institutional plan, which has posted 19.64 per cent returns compared with the retail plan’s figure of 18.49 per cent. There are several schemes where such a disparity exists.

Deepak Sharma, CEO, Sarthi Wealth Management Consultants, said, “The segregation is necessary after the kind of outflows witnessed in October 2008. It will ensure that retail investors are not at a disdvantage during large-scale redemptions.”

Recently, Sebi Chairman CB Bhave had expressed concern over the mutual fund industry’s over-dependence on funds from corporate houses. The Reserve Bank of India has also picked holes in the business model adopted by mutual funds. “A high dependence on corporates for funds implies a lesser role for the retail investors,” it said in its Annual Report 2008-09.

According to a Celent report, institutional investors contribute 56 per cent of the industry’s assets while retail investors account for only 37 per cent. By comparison, retail contribution in China is 70 per cent.

source: Economictimes

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