Expense Account, Mint
For an industry waiting with bated breath for the new regulator to indicate which way the wind will blow, the two-page circular uploaded on the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) website on 9 March 2011 (http://bit.ly/fMcM0o) quickly became the most emailed and forwarded document. Through the circular, Sebi has allowed mutual fund houses to use two sources of money to pay distributor commissions. One, they can use the accumulated load balances they are holding. Before August 2009, the loads (the distributor commission embedded in the price of the mutual fund scheme) were collected by the fund house and paid to the distributor. Not all such loads were paid out and the money undistributed was kept in a separate account. The older and bigger the fund house, the larger was this amount of accumulated loads. The circular is being seen in the market as of great benefit to the older, larger fund houses that are sitting on Rs250-400 crore each in these accounts. This is a reversal of the earlier argument within Sebi that was in favour of writing back this money to the scheme (that is to the investors). Two, fund houses can use the money collected as exit loads to pay distributors. Both the steps are being seen as a significant indication of what will happen next. The market now expects the two-cheque system to collapse into one and a gentler easing into the pre-August 2009 world when fund houses looked at the distributors as their primary customers and the real retail customer was not really on the radar. When you can buy the business, why spend energy in developing it?