Sucheta Dalal :Cancellations ceased accounts outstrip new SIP registrations in March
Sucheta Dalal

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Cancellations, ceased accounts outstrip new SIP registrations in March  

April 8, 2010

While stock markets are charting an upward course for several weeks now, mutual fund investments have exhibited a contrarian trend. The latest exhibit in this grim scenario is the rapidly declining investor interest in systematic investment plans (SIPs) of mutual fund schemes.

Here are the bare facts. Since December 2009, new SIP registrations have witnessed a steady downhill trend. New registrations in SIPs have gone down from about 280,000 in December 2009 to around 225,000 in March 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of SIP cancellations has increased from around 67,000 in January this year to around 83,000 for March. Between February and March, the number of ceased SIP transactions has gone up to around 108,000. Most alarmingly, cancellations and ceased transactions are more than the new SIP registrations for the month of March, a month when people make a lot of investments.

A SIP allows an investor to invest in a mutual fund by making smaller periodic investments (either monthly or quarterly) instead of a large one-time investment. This makes a SIP the preferred route for investing in funds for most investors.

All this while, the Sensex has been rising steadily and even touched 18,000, a 25-month high. Moneylife has previously written about how recent mutual fund outflows have defied stock market trends. (

Recently, we also revealed how redemptions from mutual funds have consistently outpaced subscriptions from August last year, when the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced the no-entry load ban. (

Market players suspect that most of the current woes being experienced by this industry stem from the whirlwind initiatives taken up by SEBI to ‘fine-tune’ the industry practices. However, industry leaders have defended the new system by arguing that the industry would adjust to paying commissions, sooner than later. Their contention is that investors are pulling out money from MF schemes to book profits.

But, as pointed out by Moneylife, this is nothing but a veiled attempt to hide the fact that SEBI’s new rules regarding entry load and trail commissions do not help anybody, least of all investors because of the uneven playing field of the investment landscape. With commissions vaporising into thin air, distributors have lost incentive to sell mutual funds and are instead pushing heavy commission-earning products like unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) and corporate fixed deposits which are against investors’ interests in some cases.

An independent financial advisor (IFA) pointed out that apart from the lack of incentive to sell, distributors also face other hurdles in promoting SIPs. “Even banks and national distributors are not interested in selling SIPs as it is a very slow-earning option. Also, even if a distributor promotes a SIP, he is not assured of regular income anymore as some national distributor may poach his running SIP any time. Uncertainty of future trail (commission) and transfer of assets under management (AUM) is the main hurdle for brokers to promote SIPs.”

The IFA also pointed out that filling the SIP application form is very cumbersome and technical. There is no standard format across asset management companies (AMCs). Every AMC asks for data in different formats. — Sanket Dhanorkar

-- Sucheta Dalal