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Posted at: Dec 28, 2016, 12:03 AM; last updated: Dec 28, 2016, 12:03 AM (IST)BIZ TALK

MF investments rising in smaller towns: CAMS

MF investments rising in smaller towns: CAMS
NK Prasad
President and CEO, CAMS talks to Girja Shankar Kaura 

Computer Age Management Services Pvt Ltd (CAMS) has emerged as one of the major players in managing data for mutual funds, private equities, banks, NBFCs, insurance companies and even brokerages. NK Prasad, President and CEO, CAMS, talks about the industry.

Q. What is the main business of CAMS and how has it evolved over time? What are your key services?

A. CAMS is Mutual Fund Registrar and Transfer Agency (RTA) serving three key stakeholders viz. the mutual funds, investors and distributors. In our two decade plus journey with the Indian fund industry, we have contributed significantly to the growth of the category via investment in technology infrastructure, product/service innovations, investor outreach and customer touch points. We provide full range of services, excluding advisory, for investors of 15 asset management companies. We provide investor and distributors services through a national network of over 260 service centres and multi-locational call centers supported by a large centralised back office. Going beyond the traditional RTA role, we have built significant scale and specialisation and serve over two crore live investor accounts.

Q. What are the benefits of investment in mutual funds?

A. The mutual fund industry is relatively young and has emerged as a well-regulated, transparent and low-cost investment solution. It provides world-class service standards and the benefits of diversification, tax efficiency, superior risk adjusted and inflation beating returns. Mutual funds offer the benefits of a professional fund manager who is trained and experienced in generating returns superior to the benchmark. He has the knowledge and expertise to deploy strategies, determine the allocation for investments into sectors, specific securities and booking profits. Staying invested for at least 10 years in well-performing equity schemes have generated CAGR ranging between 15 and 20%. These are far superior returns when compared to other asset classes.

Q. How is the digital transformation impacting MF industry?

A. As with all financial products, mutual funds are also witnessing digital trends in many ways. New account opening with Aadhaar eKYC, online transaction through website, portals and mobile app are all on the rise. With the proliferation of smartphones and good connectivity, investors have anytime, anywhere access to MFs. Our data points to nearly 15% of transactions from digital channels such as websites and mobile apps. Mutual fund being a highly intermediated product, we have enabled interfaces for electronic transaction submission for distributors. CAMS has been in the forefront to provide digital conveniences and launched Aadhaar-based eKYC, myCAMS mobile app to access multiple funds and GoCORP for institutional investors. 

Q. Which key trends are visible in MF industry?

A. We see all round positive trends in the past few years. Retail investors’ confidence is high and this has been witnessed in consistently high inflows in equity funds in the past two years from new and existing investors. Market movement-led redemption is contained which points to investors’ long-term goal. SIP is becoming the preferred route to enter MFs. At CAMS, we processed around 74 lakh SIPs in November 2016 as against 39 lakh two years ago. From a high concentration of assets in metro cities a couple of years ago, sustained investor education and awareness building are opening up Tier 2 and Tier 3 town investors. We see nearly 50% of new investors from these locations.

Q. How should investors benefit from MF investing?

A. Mutual funds offer the most versatile combination of product options and plans, investing options such as systematic plans, product innovations such as step up SIP, flexi SIP and superior tax efficiency. The choice of asset allocation in mutual funds can work for long-term wealth creation with equity funds and short-term investment through debt funds. Moving surplus funds from savings account to liquid funds even for a few days gives a better yield. 

Investors can take advantage of Systematic Investment Plan (SIP), a disciplined way to build a long-term portfolio and manage volatility of equity markets and product features such as goal-based plans, systematic sweep etc. Dividend income and long-term capital gains are tax-free in equity schemes.

Q. What is the growth potential of industry and how is your company pursuing?

A. Indian mutual fund industry has seen a double-digit growth and has about 5.1 crore investors with Rs 16.8 trillion worth assets under management and has penetrated to over 260+ locations. While this may look significant in absolute numbers for a relatively new industry, as a percentage of GDP, it is very low at 8.4%. However, we are seeing visible shift in trend to financial assets which is a positive sign.

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