Mutual fund reforms to begin today

Mutual fund reforms to begin today

Investments in mutual funds will get simpler and safer, but a bit costlier in some cases, starting on Monday, as the industry is set to implement some wide-ranging reforms by Sebi.

Among various reform measures taken by Sebi, the fund houses will have to make more disclosures in the interest of investors. They also have to shift to the one plan per scheme model, moving away from the present practice of cluttering one scheme with numerous plans.

At the same time, fund houses will be able to charge their investors a little bit more as incentive for expanding to small cities, but would also have to set aside a small portion of their assets for investor education and awareness. The changes in mutual fund regulations were approved by Sebi’s board in its last meeting on August 16 and have been notified over the past few days. Now, these would come into effect from October 1.

As per the notifications, the fund houses might charge investment and advisory fee on
their schemes, which would have to be fully disclosed in the offer document. In case of a fund of funds scheme, the total expenses of levied on the scheme would be capped at 2.50 per cent of the daily net assets of the scheme.

In addition to the total expenses already levied on schemes, Sebi would allow the fund houses to levy brokerage and transaction costs, which is incurred for the purpose of execution of trade and is included in the cost of investment, with a ceiling of 0.12 per cent in case of cash market and 0.05 per cent in case of derivatives transactions.

Besides, mutual funds can charge additional expenses of up to 0.30 per cent of daily net assets, if the new inflows from places other than top-15 cities are 30 per cent of the gross new inflows in the scheme, or are 15 per cent of the average assets under management (year to date) of the scheme, whichever is higher.

The expenses charged under these clauses would have to be utilised for distribution expenses incurred for bringing inflows from such cities, and the amount incurred as expense on account of inflows from such cities would have to be credited back to the scheme in case the said inflows are redeemed within a period of one year. Among other measures, the fund houses would have to calculate the Net Asset Value of the scheme on daily basis and publish the same in at least two daily newspapers with nation-wide circulation. Also, any exit load charged by the fund houses would have to be be credited to back to the scheme.

The single plan structure would apply to all new mutual fund schemes with effect from Monday, while existing schemes with multiple plans (based on investment amount) can also accept fresh subscriptions only under one plan. Other plans will continue till the existing investors remain invested in the plan.