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Investors queue up to buy mutual fund schemes directly

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

Sebi’s much-hyped entry load waiver for direct mutual fund (MF) applications seems to be having some positive impact, as investors are cashing in on the load-free route to apply for MFs.

According to a survey done by IIMS Dataworks on mutual fund retail sales and distribution practices, 33 per cent of independent financial advisors (IFAs) have admitted to a significant impact of the zero load on their business volumes.

An interesting finding of the survey is that individual agents are planning to form a ‘chain’ sales channel. A chain channel means organising themselves into a ‘union’ of sorts to increase their bargaining power with asset management companies (AMCs). More than 80 agents in super metros see their future in the chain sales channel.

The IFA survey also shows that expensive brand and product advertising by companies is having some impact, but not to the extent of growing MF customer base to mass market size. The asset management firms need to come together to devise strategies to educate both existing and potential investors.

IFAs, in the survey, report that most of their new customers are referred by their existing MF investors. In other words, most new customers are acquired by existing customers ‘talking up’ the market.

Rough weather in and high inflation have resulted in a slowdown of business for many IFAs. Consequently, the IFA community is under some stress and is willing to consider adjusting traditional business practices, according to the survey. An indicator of this is that many financial advisors are now willing to consider educed financial incentives.

The data clarifies that preferential sales issue for IFAs selling both and life insurance products is reasonably benign as IFAs overwhelmingly report that are easier to sell than the most popular insurance product at the moment (ULIPs) for various reasons.

The reasons for the claim, investors say, are because mjutual fund returns are more attractive. The fact that MF investments do not involve investment lock-in and a long-term premium commitment makes the product more investor-friendly, the survey says.

First Published: Thu, September 11 2008. 00:00 IST