Hopeful of a major boost to mutual fund business, regulator Sebi has identified nearly 85 districts for possible adoption by fund houses, as these areas have high bank deposits but limited investment opportunities.
In all-out efforts to help the sector, Sebi has also made necessary provisions for all their "genuine" demands, while it has also suggested greater clarity on taxation framework for mutual fund retirement schemes to attract a large pool of pension money into the capital markets.
"We have no pending request from any (mutual fund) industry segment for the development of this market. Whatever request we had received, we have examined them and whatever we found to be genuine, we have allowed them to do," capital markets regulator Sebi Chairman U K Sinha said.
Fund houses have often complained about regulatory issues and operational difficulties in attracting investors, although their overall asset base grew by about 11 per cent to over Rs 8.8 lakh crore in 2013.
Asked about the steps being taken to help mutual fund industry, Sinha said, "What we have done is that in partnership with mutual fund industry body AMFI (Association of Mutual Funds in India), we have identified certain districts in the country where we have decided to focus more."
"The way these 85-86 districts have been identified is that these are the districts where bank deposits are very high and the penetration of capital market products is very low.
"This means that people have got surplus money there and they are using the banking system, but not using the capital market instruments," he added.
Sebi has shared the information about these districts with AMFI and the mutual funds have been asked to go and open branches in those areas.
The Sebi chairman further said that branches are being opened in these areas now and the regulator has also asked the mutual fund industry to adopt districts.
"Just as there used to be district adoption by banks, we have asked the mutual fund industry to adopt districts. So, various fund houses are adopting districts.
"This has just begun. These are the measures we are taking to let the people (from financial markets) reach the people (who can invest in good products," he said.
Listing out other measures undertaken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), which also regulates the country's mutual fund industry, Sinha said that fund houses had apprehension about the advertisement code being "very rule-bound and very difficult to comply".