India sets high benchmark for global mutual fund industry on disclosure aspect: Report

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December 14, 2020 7:56 PM

"India earns a top grade for disclosure given the strength of its requirements for monthly portfolio holdings disclosure, portfolio management disclosure, and specifications for the simplified prospectus," the report noted.

According to Morningstar biannual Global Investor Experience report on disclosure, India, along with the US, received "top" grades due to their robust disclosure practices.

India has set a high standard for the global mutual fund industry with monthly portfolio holdings disclosure requirement, a Morningstar report said on Monday.

This has been further strengthened with the fortnightly portfolio disclosures for fixed-income funds, it added.

According to Morningstar biannual Global Investor Experience report on disclosure, India, along with the US, received “top” grades due to their robust disclosure practices.

The two markets feature global best practices for the disclosure of portfolio manager names, fund ownership and compensation.

“India earns a top grade for disclosure given the strength of its requirements for monthly portfolio holdings disclosure, portfolio management disclosure, and specifications for the simplified prospectus,” the report noted.

It, further, said the country could work to improve the level of detail provided by fund firms in discussions of performance and risk within fund literature.

The report, now in its sixth edition, assessed the experiences of mutual fund investors in 26 markets across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

It evaluates disclosure frameworks that mutual fund investors face, assigning grades of the top, above average, average, below average, and bottom to each market.

As per the report, Indian funds have the shortest lag in the release of portfolio holdings data, making it easier for investors to have access to the latest portfolio information at the earliest.

Under the Sebi norms, funds are required to disclose their portfolio holdings monthly in their fact sheets, which are typically posted on the asset manager’s website. They need to make such disclosure within 10 calendar days from each month-end.

This regulation was updated in October 2020 to mandate that fixed-income funds disclose full portfolio holdings fortnightly, within five days of each fortnight.

Kaustubh Belapurkar, Director – Manager Research, Morningstar India said, “India sets the benchmark for global fund industry on several fronts, including monthly full portfolio disclosures, which has been further enhanced to fortnightly disclosures for fixed income funds”.

Other useful disclosures, such as expense ratios, fund manager information, performance track record can easily be found in simplified documents like the key information memorandum (KIM) and factsheets, which make it easy for investors to access this information, he added.

Fund managers commentary on performance is generally considered as a useful highlight for investors to understand the drivers of performance.

“India can improve on this front as most performance commentary is usually generic,” the report noted.

An emerging area of interest is ESG (environment, social and governance), while still in its nascent stage in India, Belapurkar believes it would be helpful to have regulations around standardized ESG disclosures to allow investors to make informed choices.

The report evaluated markets based on six key disclosure dimensions — simplified and simplified prospectus, fee, portfolio holdings, portfolio manager name and compensation, sales and ESG stewardship.

Overall, the report noted that most markets around the world have incrementally improved the environment for mutual fund investors through better disclosure practices.

The report assigned above-average grades to Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, South Africa, and Sweden; while Singapore, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and Japan were given below-average grades.

Australia is the only country which landed with the lowest awarded grade among the 26 markets.

“As an otherwise sophisticated market, it is remarkable that Australia remains the only market with no implemented portfolio holdings disclosure regime,” the report said.

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