Mutual fund is a trust that pools the savings of a number of investors who share a common financial goal. This pool of money is invested in accordance with a stated objective. The joint ownership of the fund is thus “Mutual”, i.e. the fund belongs to all investors. The money thus collected is then invested in capital market instruments such as shares, debentures and other securities. The income earned through these investments and the capital appreciations realized are shared by its unit holders in proportion the number of units owned by them. Thus a Mutual Fund is the most suitable investment for the common man as it offers an opportunity to invest in a diversified, professionally managed basket of securities at a relatively low cost. A Mutual Fund is an investment tool that allows small investors access to a well-diversified portfolio of equities, bonds and other securities. Each shareholder participates in the gain or loss of the fund. Units are issued and can be redeemed as needed. The fund’s Net Asset value (NAV) is determined each day. Investments in securities are spread across a wide cross-section of industries and sectors and thus the risk is reduced. Diversification reduces the risk because all stocks may not move in the same direction in the same proportion at the same time. Mutual fund issues units to the investors in accordance with quantum of money invested by them. Investors of mutual funds are known as unit- holders.
Organization of Mutual Fund
Mutual funds have a unique structure not shared with other entities such as companies of firms. It is important for employees & agents to be aware of the special nature of this structure, because it determines the rights & responsibilities of the fund’s constituents viz., sponsors, trustees, custodians, transfer agents & of course, the fund & the Asset Management Company(AMC) the legal structure also drives the inter-relationships between these constituents. The structure of the mutual fund India is governed by the SEBI (Mutual Funds) regulations, 1996. These regulations make it mandatory for mutual funds to have a structure of sponsor, trustee, AMC, custodian. The sponsor is the promoter of the mutual fund, & appoints the trustees. The trustees are responsible to the investors in the mutual fund, & appoint the AMC for managing the investment portfolio. The AMC is the business face of the mutual fund, as it manages all affairs of the mutual fund. The mutual fund & the AMC have to be registered with SEBI. Custodian, who is also registered with SEBI, holds the securities of various schemes of the fund in its custody.
SEBI regulates mutual funds, depositories, custodians and registrars & transfer agents in the country. The applicable guidelines for mutual funds are set out in SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, as amended till date. An updated and comprehensive list of circulars issued by SEBI can be found in the Mutual Funds section of SEBI’s website. Some segments of the financial markets have their own independent regulatory bodies. Wherever applicable, mutual funds need to comply with these other regulators also. For instance, RBI regulates the money market and foreign exchange market in the country. Therefore, mutual funds need to comply with RBI’s regulations regarding investment in the money market, investments outside the country, investments from people other than Indians resident in India, remittances (inward and outward) of foreign currency etc. Stock Exchanges are regulated by SEBI. Every stock exchange has its own listing, trading and margining rules. Mutual Funds need to comply with the rules of the exchanges with which they choose to have a business relationship. Anyone who is aggrieved by a ruling of SEBI, can file an appeal with the Securities Appellate Tribunal.
The sponsor is the promoter of the mutual fund. The sponsor establishes the Mutual fund & registers the same with SEBI. He appoints the trustees, Custodians & the AMC with prior approval of SEBI, & in accordance with SEBI regulations. He must have at least five year track record of business interest in the financial markets. Sponsor must have been profit making in at least three of the above five years. He must contribute at least 40% of the capital of the AMC.
The Mutual Fund may be managed by a Board of trustees of individuals, or a trust company — a corporate body. Most of the funds in India are managed by board of trustees. While the board of trustees is governed by the provisions of the Indian trust act, where the trustee is the corporate body, it would also be required to comply with the provisions of the companies act, 1956. The board of trustee company, as an independent body, act as protector of the unit holders interest. The trustees don’t directly manage the portfolio of securities. For this specialist function, they appoint an AMC. They ensure that the fund is managed by AMC as per the defined objectives & in accordance with the trust deed & SEBI regulations. The trust is created through a document called the trust deed i.e., executed by the fund sponsor in favor of the trustees. The trust deed is required to be stamped as registered under the provision of the Indian registration act & registered with SEBI. The trustees begin the primary guardians of the unit holder’s funds & assets; a trustee has to be a person of high repute & integrity.
Often an independent organization, it takes custody all securities & other assets of mutual fund. Its responsibilities include receipt & delivery of securities collecting income-distributing dividends, safekeeping of the unit & segregating assets & settlements between schemes. Mutual fund is managed either trust company board of trustees. Board of trustees & trust are governed by provisions of Indian trust act. If trustee is a company, it is also subject Indian Company Act. Trustees appoint AMC in consultation with the sponsors & according to SEBI regulation. All mutual fund schemes floated by AMC have to be approved by trustees. Trustees review & ensure that net worth of the company is according to stipulated norms, every quarter. Though the trust is the mutual fund, the AMC is its operational face. The AMC is the first functionary to be appointed, & is involved in appointment of all other functionaries. The AMC structures the mutual fund products, markets them & mobilizes fund, manages the funds & services to the investors.
Other Service Providers:
The RTA maintains investor records. Their offices in various centres serve as Investor Service Centres (ISCs), which perform a useful role in handling the documentation of investors. The appointment of RTA is done by the AMC. It is not compulsory to appoint a RTA. The AMC can choose to handle this activity in house. All RTAs need to register with SEBI.
Auditors are responsible for the audit of accounts. Accounts of the schemes need to be maintained independent of the accounts of the AMC. The auditor appointed to audit the scheme accounts needs to be different from the auditor of the AMC. While the scheme auditor is appointed by the Trustees, the AMC auditor is appointed by the AMC.
The fund accountant performs the role of calculating the NAV, by collecting information about the assets and liabilities of each scheme. The AMC can either handle this activity in-house, or engage a service provider.
The investors’ moneys go into the bank account of the scheme they have invested in. These bank accounts are maintained with collection bankers who are appointed by the AMC.
Leading collection bankers make it convenient to invest in the schemes by accepting applications of investors in most of their branches. Payment instruments against applications handed over to branches of the AMC or the RTA need to be banked with the collecting bankers, so that the moneys are available for investment by the scheme. Through this kind of a mix of constituents and specialized service providers, most mutual funds maintain high standards of service and safety for investors.
Distributors have a key role in selling suitable types of units to their clients i.e. the investors in the schemes. Distributors need to pass the prescribed certification test, and register with AMFI.
Asset Management Company (AMC)
Day to day operations of asset management are handled by the AMC. It therefore arranges for the requisite offices and infrastructure, engages employees, provides for the requisite software, handles advertising and sales promotion, and interacts with regulators and various service providers. The AMC has to take all reasonable steps and exercise due diligence to ensure that the investment of funds pertaining to any scheme is not contrary to the provisions of the SEBI regulations and the trust deed. Further, it has to exercise due diligence and care in all its investment decisions.
As per SEBI regulations:
- The directors of the asset management company need to be persons having adequate professional experience in finance and financial services related field.
- The directors as well as key personnel of the AMC should not have been found guilty of moral turpitude or convicted of any economic offence or violation of any securities laws.
- Key personnel of the AMC should not have worked for any asset management company or mutual fund or any intermediary during the period when its registration was suspended or cancelled at any time by SEBI.
Prior approval of the trustees is required, before a person is appointed as director on the board of the AMC. Further, at least 50% of the directors should be independent directors i.e. not associate of or associated with the sponsor or anyof its subsidiaries or the trustees. The AMC needs to have a minimum net worth of Rs.10 crores. An AMC cannot invest in its own schemes, unless the intention to invest is disclosed in the Offer Document. Further, the AMC cannot charge any fees for the investment. The appointment of an AMC can be terminated by a majority of the trustees, or by 75% of the Unit-holders. However, any change in the AMC is subject to prior approval of SEBI and the Unit-holders.