Expense Account, Mint
It is not often that one finds an existential question in a dry piece of financial sector regulation. But read the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) Investment Advisers Regulation 2013 (http://goo.gl/4b5RK) carefully and you find the question “who am I?” being asked of the financial intermediaries who face the retail investors. This piece of long-awaited regulation puts in place the grid that will define all future regulation in retail financial intermediation by making a strong distinction between a person who simply sells a financial product and one who advises the buyer. This is the same distinction that we make between a doctor and a chemist. We do sometimes seek the advice of a chemist on what to take for a simple headache, but we know we’re doing something wrong to take a strong course of antibiotics on the over-the-counter advice of a vendor. We know that we’ll have to pay the doctor’s fee to get an expert opinion on a medical condition. Retail-facing financial intermediaries need to decide who they are: sellers or advisers.