Mutual fund disclaimers should flow at same speed as rest of ad, says Piyush Goyal

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Peeved at mutual funds rushing through disclaimers in television commercials, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said the critical information should flow at the same speed as the rest of the advertisement.

The commerce minister, who also holds the consumer affairs portfolio, added that he is willing to change the regulations if needed to ensure that the over Rs 37 lakh crore MF industry falls in line.

“They (the ads) read out the disclaimer very, very fast which you can’t even understand. The disclaimer should be prominent and at the same tone or speed as the rest of the advertisement. You can’t rush through a disclaimer, it loses the purpose of the disclaimer,” Goyal said while addressing an NSE event.

He asked the largest stock bourse of the country to engage with asset management companies on this issue and also offered changes in regulation to enable it.

“If you need any help, I am happy to arrange for it through consumer protection rules from the consumer affairs ministry or the consumer protection laws,” he said.

“But it is imperative that investors should know or invest with their eyes open when they are coming into the exchange or any (financial) product,” the minister added.

Earlier, he asked the stock exchanges to evolve a common know your customer (KYC) platform which can be used by a variety of financial entities and can ensure swifter entry of an investor or participant on to a platform.

Goyal said the ministry itself took inspiration from a system for admissions into American universities which rely on add-on information to be furnished depending upon a particular varsity or course sought by a candidate, and a similar one can be explored by the financial sector.

“I’d urge you to consider and engage with regulator or banking system to simplify the rules (on KYC) to ensure more people come in into the system,” he said, adding that some amount of self-regulation should also be looked at.

Goyal further said financial products have to pass through the prism of trust, transparency and accountability and asked stock exchanges to be cognizant of the same to attract flows from retail and institutional investors.

Goyal, who also handles the textiles portfolio, said only 12 companies have been constant in the 25-year journey of NSE’s 50-share benchmark Nifty and the composition from a sectoral perspective shows interesting trends.

Without mentioning the sector’s performance, he said the textile industry has some “food for thought” from the data.

Goyal also pitched for safeguarding the interest of small retail investors and MSMEs by improving their financial literacy, encouraging a sentiment shift from speculation to diversification, bringing ease and simplicity by launching products in regional languages and collaborating with schools and colleges to impart investment skills at a young age.

There is a need to reduce the volatility and sudden spikes to enlarge the investor base and induce robust capital formation, he noted, adding that it is important to follow international best practices so that domestic players can integrate with global exchanges and financial systems.

“When we are talking about trade deals, we can then try to get recognition for your KYC, for your processes in international markets and possibly India can also look at accepting the KYC or the registrations in developed countries… like the Nasdaq or Nikkei, or some of the reputed exchange and ultimately India should be aiming to be among the top three exchanges in the world,” he added.