Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Is MF industry prepared to service investors in crisis?

  • There has been a push towards digital transactions in the past few years
  • AMFI has written to the markets regulator to relax compliance norms

As many as 30 states and Union territories, including Maharashtra, have announced complete lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, mutual fund houses along with registrar and transfer agents, most of which are based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, have asked most of their employees to work from home. The Association of Mutual Funds in India has also written to the markets regulator to relax compliance norms as it may be difficult to adhere to them at present. Mint asked experts what measures the industry is taking to ensure their client services are not hit.

Sundeep Sikka

Executive director and chief executive officer, Nippon India Mutual Fund

Investors can use SMS or apps for MF services

Our robust digital infrastructure allows us to extend differentiated services to our 9 million customers. They can use their smartphones, even in low network zones to access our mobile applications.

Befitting the current requirement to eliminate external touches, our applications support voice commands to replace touch, swipes and typing. Investors can also use other self-serve features like SMS or WhatsApp to check investment information without any physical interaction.

NIMF Business Easy Platform Application powers our distributors to initiate transactions with approval by investors using web links triggered on registered SMS and email. The in-built AI also provides relevant suggestions.

Chandresh Kumar Nigam

Managing director and chief executive officer, Axis AMC

Upward trend in digital transactions is bearing fruit

Over the last couple of years, we have seen an upward trend in digital sales across all businesses, especially in the financial services sector. We too have witnessed a growth in digital sales. If we compare October 2019 with February 2020, the total digital transaction has increased by 237% and sales by 166%.

In order to cater to the growing needs of investors and maintain momentum in the wake of this lockdown, we are in the process of upgrading our (Android and iOS) mobile app in the coming weeks, which will provide customers with superlative experience and help in digital transactions.

We are also working on enhancing our website capacity to ensure that we can handle the surge in digital transactions.

Dhiraj Mittal

Certified Financial Planner & Chartered Accountant, CEO, Prime Capital Services

Distributors have already been getting clients online

There has been a push towards digital transactions in the past few years. Distributors have been signing up investors on platforms such as BSE StarMF, Mutual Fund Utility platform, among others, for smooth electronic financial transactions.

We have also registered our investors with the NSE mutual fund platform and they are able to perform all their transactions online.

We have moved our servers from office to home. That’s how we have been able to provide all the services to the investors. Investors are not feeling the effect of the lockdown as far as investments are concerned. Also, advisers were doing meeting with their NRI investors on the web, now they are doing so with domestic investors too.

Girirajan Murugan

Chief executive officer, FundsIndia.com

All efforts are being made to handle this rare situation

Our team has been continually monitoring the chain of events and recent developments through the news and markets. Our business continuity plans are placed strictly in order to accommodate a workflow without any disruptions. All possible efforts are being made to cross this pandemic as effortlessly as possible and to handle the higher than usual traffic.

To handle the unusual traffic, we have made all preparations on our platform. In a few cases, we have doubled our hardware capacity. Irrespective of whether our employees are in the office or at home, we are ensuring that they are fully equipped with all measures to continue to function seamlessly and help on-board customers.

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