Till recently, the calls of
mis-selling were growing louder. The investors didn’t know where to go after the products they purchased turned to be unconvincing. The problem has persisted from last several years when the products were sold based on wrong information by the company’s executive. There were reports that some of the selling was deliberately done to increase the volumes and meet the sales targets set by the companies. In certain cases, the product was not well understood by the mutual fund executive himself and he recommended it to the clients based on limited knowledge.
Regulator acts tough
Increase in such discrepancies and lack of transparency has forced the regulator to act tough in all these cases. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has asked the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) to work on a system where the employees can be identified. In this regards, AMFI has asked the banks and organizations officials involved in Mutual Fund selling to provide their customers with identification numbers. This will be known as Employee Unique Identification Number (EUIN). Until now, the complaint procedure was marred by the fact that it was difficult to locate the exact executive who sold the wrong product. Sometimes he had left the organization and at other times, he had taken transfer to some other location.
One of the common frauds committed is mis-selling by providing incorrect information like Mutual Fund charges. Investors are sometimes unaware of the terms and conditions; this makes the matter all the more difficult for them. It has also been noted that the Mutual Fund agents are sometimes so obsessed with their commissions that they ignore the client’s actual need. In other cases, it is multiple selling of the similar product to the same customer.
How will this system work?
It is like giving proper training and authentication of the employee before they are actually given the duties of selling a product. The employees involved in the MF industry and those planning to sell products will now have to pass an examination of National Institute of Securities Market (NISM), this will generate the EUIN for them after they clear the exam. They will then register with AMFI. The time given for MF companies was 1 June 2013.
They had to choose the employees before that time to sell their products. This move is expected to create a database for the selling professionals. It will act as a check for the number of products sold and also the recommendations given by the executive. Earlier, the companies were selling the products without any proper measures like training of the employee, his qualifications and registration under AMFI, but with new regulations all the executives will be under one roof.
Self regulation and assessment is expected to increase by both companies and employees. The employee will think twice before selling the product with ambiguous tactics. The score of the person will now be assessed by the regulator on a regular basis. The companies will, on the other hand, try and give information to the employees and work on their techniques for client satisfaction.
The move by SEBI and AMFI suggests that everything was not hunky-dory in the Mutual Fund industry. Fishy selling was going on in the markets and the sufferers were the general investors. After the rules, it is expected to curb the instinct of mis-selling and deceiving the client as that will result in affecting his report card and in turn might lead to ban of the employee from sales. The companies can be slapped heavy penalties in case the problem aggravates.
A word of advice for the customers is not to blindly believe the professional salesman on what he says. Try and look at the alternative options and access the MF document. If there is any doubt, try and clear it before hand. Don’t say yes to a product based on any compulsion, try and ask for different options if you are not convinced with the existing product.
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