6 changes in mutual funds done by SEBI recently – Good or bad ?

POSTED BY Jagoinvestor ON September 7, 2012 COMMENTS (72)

Recently, SEBI has made some of the biggest changes in mutual fund regulations to revive the mutual fund industry.  Some of the measures which are made are said to be helping AMCs and distributors more than investors. We will look at 6 major changes done in the meeting and the full detailed circular will come in few days.

Mutual Funds changes by SEBI

1. Higher expense Ratio allowed

Do you know that close to 45% of mutual funds money comes just from Mumbai? Around 87% of AUM in mutual funds comes from top 15 cities in India, which means that only a minuscule 13% of the mutual funds money belongs to small cities in India. Penetration in other parts of country is very, very small and not encouraging. Now SEBI has proposed to increase the Expense ratio by 30 basis points (0.3%) if the mutual funds are able to increase their reach to smaller towns in India and increase their contribution to 30% . In short, if a mutual funds is able to get more than 30% of its AUM from other than top 15 cities in India, they can charge a 30 basis points expense ratio higher than its current expense ratio. Lower contribution means proportionately lower expense ratios.

The big effect, is that now there will be higher expense ratio for everyone. So inflow from smaller cities will affect investors from bigger cities. Investors from big cities will have to bear the burden of increased expense ratio.

2. No internal limits in Expense Ratio

A very big change which goes in favor of AMCs is the removal of internal limits on the expense ratio and for what it can be used. Earlier there was a limit on the AMC to charge up to 2.5% expense ratio (up to 100 crores AUM), but it was allowed to charge only 1.25% as Fund Management Charge and 0.5% as distribution charges. The rest was taken as their profits.  So earlier suppose a Mutual Fund charged 2.25% as the expense ratio, then they compulsorily had to allocate 1.25% as Fund Management Charge and 0.5% for distribution.

But now, that sum limit has been removed and mutual funds are allowed to allocate expenses the way they want. This means you can now see more advertisements, more commissions to the distributors and more aggressive selling. While this is a very big change which will make AMCs happy, they will still have to keep a check on the expense ratio because of competition from other AMCs.

3. Putting Exit Loads back into the scheme

You must be wondering what happened to exit loads earlier, where did it go? When a investor got out of a mutual funds , he was charged an exit load if he quit before 1 year. That money was not transferred back to mutual fund, nor was it the profit of the mutual fund. It was actually transferred to a separate fund, which was used for sales, distribution and marketing. But now, when a investors exits prematurely, the entire exit load money will be credited back to the scheme account and will not be treated as AMC profit. However an equal amount (capped at 20 basis points) can be included in expense ratio back to compensate the AMC loss due to outgoing investors, which means that overall, for the investors on one hand,  the AUM gets increased (NAV increased marginally because of exit load money coming back to them), while at the same time they’re paying more in expense ratios, so the net effect of this would be, no gain no loss to both the parties.

4. Direct Plans with lower expense ratio

SEBI has directed that for each mutual fund, there has to be a equivalent Direct Plan with a lower expense ratio. So for every mutual fund XYZ, now you will see XYZ and XYZ-Direct options. So XYZ will come with higher expense ratio, and XYZ-Direct will have lower expense ratio. Many people who research mutual funds and like to buy it on their own directly from AMC by passing agents and other online distributors, this option will be cheaper and makes sense. However, many distributors are not happy with this move and think this will “kill” their business, all because investors will then just invest into the direct options.

Note, SEBI has not yet clarified by how much lower, the expense ratio of the Direct plans will be and if it will be mandatory for each and every plan or just some categories. We’ll need to wait for the final circular, to find out.

5. Financial Advisers and Distributors separation

Very soon, financial advisor regulation will come into effect. This means, now there will be some minimum qualification, registration and guidelines for financial advisers. They will have to register with SEBI and a separate body of regulators will soon be created for this. A financial advisor is a professional who advises his clients on investments for a “fee.” The important distinction being, he wont be able to earn any money from commissions by selling financial products. If a person wants to sell financial products and earn commissions out of it, then he will not be able to “advise” the clients. But CA, MBA, and several other professionals are kept out of this rule and even mutual fund agents who have a valid ARN code are kept out of this rule because their basic advice is seen as the extention of their work. There is still more clarity required on this, so don’t conclude anything yet.

What does it mean finally ?

If you are wondering what it means overall in single sentence, then it means increased costs (expense ratio) and lower returns for investors, but it may not be that bad as you think. Dhirendra Kumar of Valueresearchonline feels that the expense ratio increase will be in range of 0.1% to 0.4% range.

All in all, investors could see a 0.1 to 0.4 per cent increase in the fee that they effectively pay to have their funds managed. Any increase ends up reducing the returns that funds generate but all in all, this has been a deftly managed round of reforms that could get a decent bang for the buck.

Lets see all the changes and what effect it had finally on different aspects


Criteria Before Now
Expense Ratio Charged Maximum 2.5% allowed (depending on the AUM) Now additional 30 basis points is allowed if the fresh inflow’s from smaller towns
Internal Limits on Expense Ratio Internal Limits of 1.25% for Fund Management Charges, 0.5% for distribution costs No internal limits now
Where did Exit Load go ? Earliar it went to a seperate fund used for marketing and sales Will be added back to Scheme AUM, but will not benefit investors because of equivalent increase in expense ratio (limited to 20 basis points)
Direct Scheme of Mutual Funds Earliar there was no distinction between a investment made by agent or directly with AMC A new category called “Direct” will be introduced which will have a lower expense ratio.
Service Tax Borne by AMC Borne by Investors
Distinction between Adviser and Distributor There was no distinction earlier The regulations are now coming in . Advisor and Distributer will be separated.


What do you think about these changes ? Which changes do you think are in favor of investors and which are against them. How will this affect your investments in mutual funds in coming months and years ? Are you happy about these changes ?

72 replies on this article “6 changes in mutual funds done by SEBI recently – Good or bad ?”

  1. karthik says:

    I want an update on investment in these SIP, whether it could better to swtich or exit or hold on

    Rs, 500
    HDFC-Equity, HDFC-Top 200, HDFC Prudence, HDFC Midcap, UTI Dividened Yield, UTI MNC, UTI Midcap, BSP Black Rock Micro Cap, BNP Paribas Midcap, Tata Midcap, SBI Midcap

    Rs 1000
    Quantumn Long Term, SBI Blue Chip, SBI Gold fund, Canara Robeco Emgering Equities, Birla Dividened Yield Plus, Birla MNC Fund

    Please do give your feedback.


    1. Hi Kartik

      THese funds looks good to me to continue, however why do you have so many funds ?

  2. krups says:

    Hello Manish,

    Pls advise on the below below listed portfolio. whether should I keep continuation with the same or switch is required.

    1. ICICI top 200 G – 2000
    2. ICICI pru large select cap G – 2000
    3. ICICI value discovery fund G – 2000
    4. Franklin India smaller companies fund G – 2000
    5. Sundaram Smile fund reg G- 2000
    6. IDFC premier fund G- 2000
    7.IDFC sterling equity fund G- 2000
    8. Reliance banking fund G- 50000 Lumpsome
    9. Birla sunlife manufacturing equity G- 50000LUMPsome
    10. ICICI top 200 / Pru select fund G – 25000 each lumpsome
    11. reliance growth switch to reliance equity opportunity G – 3,00,000 /-
    12. HDFC top 200 switch to HDFC mid cap opportunity fund – 1,00,000/-

    Pls advise on the above mentioned portfolio which is been started March 2014

    1. I would keep ICICI top 200 and Discovery fund along with IDFC premier equity, rest I will sell

  3. vijay pendse says:

    Wise people who research mutual funds and like to buy it on their own directly from AMC by passing agents and other online distributors, for them Direct option will be cheaper and makes sense.
    For your hard earned money investing after study of all options and then selecting , constant monitoring, changing portfolio etc. is a process that pays. I have been investing directly in the name of broker but now I will invest directly and get benifit of low expense ratio resulting better returns.
    Direct investment will be best in long run and does not require much time for comparative study when so many websites are there to help us.
    Go for DIRECT mode only.

    1. Thanks for your views on this topic Vijay !

  4. As usual, the “experts” have started advocating of going direct to Mutual Funds bypassing the Advisors.

    Was in ICICI AMC office the other day regarding a query.
    A walk in customer comes in and asks for “Direct Plan Details”.
    The clerk at the Reception said “yes sir, Direct is good, NAV is very cheap and you will make huge profit”.
    Customer : “I want to invest in International Fund, which is the Best”?
    The Clerk “sir, ICICI is the BEST in the industry. You can blindly go for the same. Come sir, I will help you fill the application”.
    I could only laugh at the ignorance of both the clerk and the customer.
    ICICI Indo Asia Fund which the clerk was referring to…….is not even in the list of Top International funds according to Valueresearch list and the Fund has been, in fact, listed under EQUITY – LARGE CAP and the clerk had the audacity to recommend this Fund as a International Fund.
    Of course, the Clerk obviously will not recommend his rivals fund such as L&T Global Real Assets fund or the DSP BLACKROCK Natural Resources and New Energy Fund.
    Expect more of such Non-sense recommendations when you go DIRECT!!

  5. Puneet says:

    Has anyone been successful in updating their address in MFs using the KYC process? Wasn’t the convenience of having to change address only at one office one of main points for promoting KYC? I’ve heard of long delays of 3-4 months in getting KYC Verified, but the address updates are not even happening at all (when KYC was launched, they advertised that the new address would be updated in all MFs within 10 business days). It has been 10 months, I’ve got the KYC Verified letter with my new address, but the MF records are still showing the old address. I’ve written more than 20 letters to MF/CAMS/Karvy. Who on earth is responsible for updating the address in MFs?

    1. Puneet

      I would suggest that if nothing is working , better file a RTI to know your answers, they will have to give you pointers no matter what !

  6. sadashiv kashyap says:

    one of the best thing with qantum mutual fund …they hav only one registored office , they hav no sales manager arround pan india so thier expenses are very lower , they earn good return and distribute more n more return…..with thier customer i hav personaly expierience they r fully commited n customer centric org. they r not increasing thier exp. ratio…..only good adviser will survive ………..in future….

    1. Good to hear that Sadashiv !

  7. sindhu102 says:

    Hi Manish,

    The new regulations have come into effect from Oct 1, 2012. So do we know what or how much would be be the benefit for an investor if we do direct investments through AMC itself by eliminating the agent/broker.

    1. You can make the direct investment now !

  8. Deep says:

    The ‘DIRECT” plan is the only good move in the favour of invester.If a person is not seeking portfolio advice why should he pay for it?If i am just doing transaction on my one i will do it with AMC directly why have a broker in between.

    1. Thanks for your views on this topic

  9. Jitendra says:

    Hi Manish,

    I was planning to invest in few equity mutual funds (1. HDFC Top 200 –G,
    2. HDFC equity,
    3. DSPBR top 100 equity – G’
    4. Fidelity equity,
    5. Franklin India Blue-chip) through SIP, for a long time.

    Would you please advise if this would be right Decision to invest in current market condition and also after above 6 changes in MFs from SEBI?

    Awaiting your valuable reply.


    1. Yes ,you can invest in these funds. no issues

      1. Jitendra says:

        Thanks Manish,

        Again, are these the best funds to invest ? OR should I replace any with other better if any?


        1. Yes .. there are good funds .

  10. lpt says:

    Charging the investors in the city to popularise MFs in the smaller towns is essentially a cross subsidy.
    The average mutual fund will not beat the benchmark. Add 2.5% p.a expenses to that and one is looking at huge loss when compounded over a 20-30 year period. Much better to invest in index funds and ETFs.

    1. Thanks for sharing your views !

    2. Dinesh says:

      As I understand the “Expense Ratio” of 0.3% additional is only for small town investors. The top 15 towns are not affected by this. Hence no question of cross subsidy.

      1. No , its not like that .. its for everyone

  11. vasudevn says:

    Why SEBI wants the fund houses, agents, distributors fattier at the cost of the poor investors, I cannot under stand. SEBI is supposed to be standing for the investors these reforms are made not for investors but for the big fund houses, distributors and agents whose commission will increase. They can expense any amount and deduct the expense from the poor investor’s investment without any commitment of any returns at all. The poor investor who became already poor because of joining the MF will become poorer still. Only one way out is “Do not invest in any Mutual Fund at all”
    Kudos! SEBI what a great watch Dog are you? “Barking at the Master instead of the theif”

    1. Thanks for your views on this topic !

  12. sindhu102 says:

    Will the MF purchases made through demat account be considered as “Direct Purchase” from AMCs or will the brokerage firm in which i hold the demat will get any commission whenever i make a purchase?

    1. Ajay Menon says:

      It would not be considered direct and every time a purchase is made though your dmat account commissions would be paid to the company where you have a dmat account.

  13. sindhu102 says:

    Will the MF purchases made through demat accounts be considered as “Direct Purchase” from AMCs or will the brokerage firm in which i hold the demat will get any commission whenever i make a purchase?

    1. Its not direct . Its through Agent (your demat company) . Direct means directly from AMC !

  14. siddhant says:

    This is not good. I think the mutual fund industry is now going regressive way(increasing the loads Slowly) The problem is that the main lobby which benefits out of this is the BIG banks who will keep giving wrong advise to people for increasing their commission (for getting the extra commission I see them changing the Mailing address of the People to smaller cities for sure from now on ).

    I think personally it makes more sense now to go direct equity or even low cost insurance route instead of this mutual fund route because of the load structure which hits me every week , but if the Direct-Mutual fund route is used reduce the Expence ratio by round 1%) then it would make sense to go for mutual funds

    1. Thanks for your views. Yes for informed investors , it will really make sense to go for direct plans .

      1. siddhant says:

        So effectivelly what we are now saying is that the Current Mutual Fund Schemes exist only because the Middle man has to be paid is it not?, that is a scary thought, indeed.

        When the DIRECT funds come in I do not understand why the other scheme would exist in this scenario, Because the advisor will have to be paid seperatelly as per the rules, so then who gets paid out of the loads?? only the banks & some bigshot with platforms.

        Why is it that the risks are getting higher & higher everyday, but rewards are not increasing, we are now in dangerous times, really dangerous times.

        1. No , even when there is direct plan, the expense ratio will be charged, but now with direct it will be lower, because middle man will not be there. You might be at a point where you can choose your mutual funds directly, but several people like to go with agents advice


      2. Nilufer says:

        Then what do we do with our already existing SIPs taken through agents like Funds India… will we need to close them down… if yes, it is we who will be in a loss for closing down an already running SIP… and if no, then we will have to pay more on every instalment of SIP… please confirm, Manish…

        1. Its your choice . the difference is not that big if you are planning to quit the mutual funds in few years itself . But over very long term , a direct option will be a little better in terms of returns .

          Note that you actions were based on past info , now the situation has changed.

  15. shinu says:

    Hi Manish

    When and how the 15 cities are ranked?
    is it the permanent adress of the investor looked up for his city of residance?
    is it the bank location of the investor looked up for his city of residance?
    is it the ARN location of the investor looked up for his city of residance?

    Arent there no differentiation between the existing and new investors on the above new rules?
    How is Fundsindia / fundsindia investors going to treated in all these new rules?

    1. There is no ranking like this, its like in any given month or year, you sort down all the cities and see the cities other than top 15 cities , thats all

    2. Smitha says:

      The address registered in KYC (CVC) determines whether an investor belongs to 15 cities or not.

      1. Ajay Menon says:


        There is no much clarity on what and how the cities would be categorized. We have to wait for the clarification from SEBI

        1. Smitha says:

          SEBI has clarified that these 15 cities are not per-specified. AMFI will publish the list of top 15 cities, which may change either go out of the list or move up the list depending on the total new AUM generated.

          1. Thanks for that information Smitha !

  16. manyam says:

    Surely not a investor friendly move.. Surely this is not the way, if they really want to encourage the investors from small and medium cities. Funny thing is small investors will run away with above reforms .. Already most of the bigger AMC’s are charging higher Expense Ratio.. Another hidden thief are lower Re-purchaser Values on NAV by AMCs.. Btw, it is always to good to invest directly with AMC for MFs instead of via Agents.. If true advise or finance education required, may good to go to some personal financial paid services instead of blindly following Agents.

    Best Regards

    1. Thanks for your views on the topic, the biggest point which distributor have raised about this is that a customer cant decide the best fund as per their requirements . What do you think about it , does one really need an agent advice ?

      1. manyam says:

        90% of the times distributor recommendations are not professional ones. I can say they are misleading the investors instead of good advises to Investors. Best example are UTI MF Distributors, they are just like another LIC agents, they do almost all company insurances and also all AMC Mutual Funds as well.

        So Agents are required to sell their products but not like current situation (most of the agents don’t know the fundamentals of MF working they just want to sell their products like other insurance or ULIP products), they have to be more knowledgeable to empower the investor’s knowledge to invest in their product.

        1. i feel sorry about your experiance about the distributors, but i would like if u would not generalise the statement.


        2. Ajay Menon says:

          The general statement on professionalism of all mutual fund advisors/agents cannot be question marked. There are few who may be categorized as ill equipped but one cannot judge an entire fraternity based on just few members wrong or misjudged deeds.

      2. Ajay Menon says:

        I believe our market is not matured enough to go on without distributors. If we say there are good websites where you get to know good funds, but sadly many known websites keep changing the rankings of funds in every three months. So as a standalone investor… he gets confused. The ranking of the funds keep on changing based on a quantity parameter majorly.
        For a quality advise you need to rely on advisor(QUALITY ADVISOR).
        As far as SEBI they are making advisorship altogether difficult.

        1. manyam says:

          But unfortunately that is truth and 90% of such agents are in small cities are like that only.. One of my relative got similar victim for “UTI Infrastructure Fund” advised by some friend Agent. I asked him on curiacity, on what basis you suggested that fund.. He replied, Infrastructure fund is like investing in real estate so very good and I have lot of those application forms as well. I asked him again, you suggested my uncle 1 back for 40K investment in it, now its value is 30K+, do u think that is well performing fund? Then he replied, Mutual Funds that to real estate fund need to wait for min 10 Years then only good returns will come.. this is kind of professional analysis given by an agent.. that is the main reason for participation is very less from small cities and they believe mainly Bank FD/Post Office and LIC..

        2. Agree to that , I have already said in the article that there are few people who can take their own decisions ,but others need advisors !

  17. Santosh says:

    New customers are needed for the betterment of mutual fund industry, therefore the new guidelines of SEBI would direct AMC’s to go for smaller cities and towns. But will the retail investment will be cheap in the smaller towns and cities ? Will the expense ratio will be less as compared to the metros?
    Kindly clarify……

    1. manyam says:

      It looks like as per above matter, lower expense ration funds are for direct investors who’s are going to invest in “xyz-retail-(G)-Direct” instead of “xyz-retail-(G)”.. so they are not based on city of origin of investor.. So I don’t think this will attract the small city investors, rather keep them away from Mutual Fund Investments.

    2. No expense ratio will be same for all , just that AMC can charge more if they can bring more participation from smaller towns !

  18. Vikrant says:

    Hi Manish
    Thanks for consildating all changes and bringing it to the notice of investors.
    Its become difficult to keep track of such changes due to busy schedule.

    My question is related to pt no.4 Direct Plans with lower expense ratio.

    I am investing in MFs thru agent. He is not charging a single rupee for his services. Infact not charging to his customers is advantage for him to increase his customer base, hence more collection & therefore more commission. Additionally he is not forcing anyone to buy MF from him, he only suggests a good and bad fund.
    I think the above change ( i.e.Direct Plans with lower expense ratio
    ) will impact my returns because all my investments are thru agent. I want to know in case this proposal is apporved then shall I stop all my further/future investments thru him?
    Also I have to stop my existing SIPs and apply for new SIPs directly from AMC.
    Kindly suggest.

    1. Yes in case direct plans comes, you will pay more expense ratio compared to direct plans and in long term your returns will matter

      1. thats means as an investor you are expecting free advice 🙂

  19. Anupam says:

    SEBI has failed to understand that when markets are so much volatile in last 3-4 years and when it is difficult for even a disciplined investor to make any money thru MF how new investors will be attracted to invest in equities.To attract Investors to invest money, Markets will have to perform.Once they perform AUM of all mutual fund house will automatically increase.With volatility as witnessed in last 3-4 years patience is going down every passing day for even a veteran investor on top of it SEBI plans to introduce these new charges which will surely hurt all those who have faith in Mutual fund Industry.It would be laudable if SEBI also make AMC’s responsible for poor performance of fund schemes.True, AMC’s are providing service and like any other service industry they are eligible to charge their customers but then like any other service industry they should be held accountable if fund manager fails to protect interest of investors and if action on part of AMC cause loss of money to investor.Because without paying any money I can directly invest in equity but when I am paying fees to AMC I expect them to manage my money with all their expertise and not cause loss to me.

    1. Thanks for your views Anupam

      Did all your funds cause you loss ? How much ? How much compared to its benchmark ?

  20. shaggy says:

    Another 6 good reasons to AVOID mutual funds…..
    (typing anything more than this will be waste of everything)

    1. Thanks for your views Shaggy


  21. Sambaran says:

    At the risk of being branded as quantum-AMC-advertiser, I must say that all these proposed changes make me feel very good about quantum AMC and their flagship fund Quantum Long Term Equity Fund (QLTEF).
    QLTEF had a direct-to-investor option, without being told.
    QLTEF has a lower expense ratio, especially in light of the tiny AUM.
    I heard (not sure) that QLTEF is already channeling the exit load into the fund.

    Was there any other fund doing similar things proactively (without being told by SEBI)? Am I one of those who are thoroughly brainwashed by the Honest-Truths of Ajit Dayal?

    1. No , there are many people who believe in quantum model !

      1. smitha says:

        Obviously Quantum model is worth looking at when it’s flagship fund has performed reasonably well over long term. However, a lot is yet to be expected to see the less expenses turn into good returns compared to few other schemes.

        Besides the Quautum, there are few very low cost (<0.5) index mutual funds that also are performing reasonably good. I believe such low cost index funds will perform better than most other funds in the next decade, especially when pension funds etc are mandated to invest in passive funds.

        1. Thanks for sharing your views on Quantum mutual funds. I agree that funds like that will do good in future 🙂

  22. raju says:

    Charging Higher through distributor is wrong move, ppl who transact online with a single distributor like fundsinida will have to bear more charges.
    Purchasing schemes from individual AMCs will be hectic and not so easy to track all at one place

    1. smitha says:

      If I remember correctly, AMFI or such intermediary is building a common interface to allow investors to buy/sell/manage their investments. Such common platform, if indeed takes birth, will make managing investments easier.

      I, however, believe IFAs could add lot of value to customers by providing right advice, tracking investments, and ensuring customer interests are aligned.

      Those who are most likely to switch to direct plans are going to be internet savvy who otherwise now invest from their Online/Internet enabled bank accounts, and few new web2.0 companies who act as intermediaries with out adding any value to the customer.

  23. Sohil says:

    I read somewhere(cant recall) that exit load and entry load regime was much better than this new moves.It will hit investors hard .
    I am sorry for those people who just blindly put money for sake of investment.

    1. Yes thats true .. but people emotionally react to it 🙂

  24. Prabee says:

    This is a poor move it would have been better if they had just re introduced the previous Entry Load regime instead of hiking up the expense ratio

    Many don’t realise that this Expense Ratio is a recurring charge which happens every year and eats into your returns and in long term a difference of 0.5% makes a huge difference in the final returns.

    If it was like before we just had to pay 2.25% as entry load once ,but now i have to pay additional 0.5% every year.

    I will be happy to keep my money in AMC like Quantum which has lowest expense ratio and no distributor network.

    This changes might remotely in some cases help in bring people from small cities.But will sure bring back the Churning era of pre 2009 as now AMC will compete for fresh money by paying distributors additional amount as commission

    1. Yea your views are correct. Entry load was much better 🙂

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