The Securities and Exchange Board of India met yesterday and took a number of steps to reenergize the mutual fund industry in India. Fund assets have stagnated there ever since the ban on entry loads (sales loads) in August 2009.

“SEBI Board took note of the lack of penetration of mutual fund products, inadequate distribution network, need for greater alignment of the interest of various stakeholders, regulation of distributors and issues concerning investor protection, and has approved some immediate steps,” according to a press release by the agency.

SEBI has also “decided to develop a long-term policy including financial inclusion and tax issues for mutual funds to deal with the public policy objectives of achieving sustainable growth of the mutual fund industry and mobilization of household savings for the growth of the economy,” according to SEBI.

The changes approved by SEBI include a number of items to improve fund distribution. They include simplifying the registration process for distributors and increasing the base of distributors “by including postal agents, retired officials from government, banks, retired teachers, etc. for distribution of simple products.” SEBI is also allowing funds to add up to 30bps to the total expense ratio “to improve the geographical reach of mutual funds and, bring in long term money from smaller towns.”

In addition, “to accord flexibility and bring cost effectiveness, fungibility of Total Expense Ratio is allowed.”

US fund companies with a presence in India include Franklin Templeton and T. Rowe Price.

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