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Brokers face operational hitches on bank strike

Sachin P Mampatta  |  Mumbai 

Stock brokers faced operational problems on account of the strike by public sector bank employees on Wednesday. Fund transfers were impacted. With some clients unable to transfer capital, brokers have had to provide required capital from their own pockets to meet settlement obligations. However, overall issues were limited on account of the fact that the strike was a one-day affair, rather than extended as it had been earlier in the year.

However, brokers did face some problems on account of working capital requirements going up. The fact that banks are closed means that their client's money cannot be credited or transferred to the broker's accounts.

However, any trades that the client makes still have to be made good. This can only be done if the broker provides the missing capital. This stretches broking balance sheets and creates a problem from an operational standpoint, according to industry officials.

  • Public sector banks went on strike on Wednesday
  • Clients unable to transfer funds
  • Brokers had to meet settlement obligations from own capital
  • That stretched working capital needs, said industry officials
  • Policy on dealing with trading sessions when banks are not working required, they say

"There are a lot of operational difficulties and a lack of clarity, because of which trading activities are completely upset. For example, if a client has to make a fund transfer through RTGS (real time gross settlement) it cannot go through. Pay-out and pay-in schedules remain the same, so the broker often has to make up the shortfall from his own capital," said Alok Churiwala, vice-chairman of the BSE Brokers' Forum.

Naresh Tejwani, president of the Association of National Exchanges Members of India (ANMI), said the impact on brokers is more pronounced when holidays are extended.

"The broker's working capital gets hampered when the banking channels are not available. But this is more of a problem when the break is two days or more," he said.

A two-day bank strike in February this year had resulted in a 50 per cent decline in stock market volumes. Volumes had dropped from nearly Rs 2 lakh crore to below Rs 1 lakh crore at the time as client cheques did not get cleared. Brokers often provide the capital in such cases to meet client obligations.

Bank employees of public sector banks went on strike again on Wednesday, asking for a revision in salaries. However, private banks remained open. This helped mitigate the problem, according to a broker.

The average market turnover for the month of October was Rs 3.67 lakh crore. Total turnover on Wednesday was Rs 2.67 lakh crore. Cash market volumes on Tuesday were Rs 20,999 crore. The total derivative turnover was Rs 2.46 lakh crore. The average derivative turnover in October was Rs 3.49 lakh crore. The cash market turnover was Rs 17,844 crore. Derivative turnover involves more intra-day positions which are impacted by such strikes, said one broker.

Overall volumes were also slightly lower on Wednesday when one removed the expiry week volumes from the October average, a time when volumes tend to go up.

However, cases where banks are closed should also result in some leeway on settlement, according to Churiwala. "Brokers have had a long-standing demand that clearing corporations and exchanges should make some allowances for days when banks are not working," he said.

First Published: Wed, November 12 2014. 22:50 IST