Sebi tries to make Mutual Fund's more 'mutual', small players unhappy

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SummaryAs market regulator Sebi tries to make mutual funds more 'mutual' by asking them to contribute their own capital along with investors' money and raising the bar on minimum networth requirements, some smaller players are finding the new norms a bitter pill to swallow.

Jimmy Patel said.

Sebi's direction to mutual funds to disclose voting data along with rationale supporting their decision in investee firms on a quarterly basis has also evoked mixed reactions.

"While it tells those doing active fund management to be more responsible, for people running index based schemes it's not a great thing. Whatever we do or say in the voting right meetings matters little if indexes continue to include those stocks," said the chief of a foreign fund house.

Through its policy, Sebi has asked the government to facilitate channelising of pension money into mutual fund space, while state-run companies would be encouraged to park their surplus funds with various MFs.

"These are extremely positive steps that would help attract long-term and stable pension inflows which are critical for the economy as well as the MF industry," said Vijai Mantri, MD & CEO, Pramerica Mutual Fund.

However, some financial advisors feel that just larger tax breaks may not be of much help.

"Sebi wants the government to enhance the limit under Section 80-C of the IT Act from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh to help make various MF schemes eligible for tax benefits. Currently, this section allows for deduction of Rs 1 lakh from taxable income. We already have tax-saving mutual funds. It can get you short term flows but on the long term performance and servicing is what matters," said Anil Rego, CEO of financial advisory firm Right Horizons.

There are about 45 fund houses present in the country with total assets worth over Rs 9 lakh crore, but fund mobilisation has been tough in the past couple of years.

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