Mutual Funds: SEBI Considers New High-Risk Category

The regulatory body, the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), has recently stated that the industry is exploring introducing a new type of investment option that falls in the category of Mutual Funds and Portfolio Management Services (PMS). 

Terming the discussion to be at a very nascent stage, AMFI maintained that it would go through the consultative approval process with the markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). 

SEBI has proposed the introduction of a new Mutual Fund (MF) category, which has a high risk and allows investors a choice to earn higher returns. In this regard, a letter was dispatched to the AMFI recently. 

Currently, the existing five categories, as per their risk factor, comprise low, low to moderate, moderate, moderately high, and high. This proposed category may include investments in junk bonds or long-short strategies. 

The market regulator has sought inputs from industry experts about the structure of the proposed scheme and the asset allocation.

The industry experts have also been asked to recommend in case any relaxations are required in the current regulatory requirements. Asset Management Companies (AMCs) or fund houses have also been asked to recommend the minimum investment size of the funds.

At present, PMS and Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) are not accessible to retail investors considering their high minimum investment requirements, which are Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore, respectively. 

This move is directed towards making high-risk, high-return PMS accessible to retail investors. Currently, PMS funds have a minimum ticket size of Rs 50 lakh. This is comparatively quite high for most retail investors.

To ensure that small investors are not lured into high-risk strategies, the market regulator has proposed that this new category should have a higher minimal investment barrier in case the proposal goes through.

Typically, mutual funds offer tax benefits for high-risk strategies compared to PMS. Investors in PMS are liable to pay taxes in case the portfolio generates profits, whereas mutual fund investors are only taxed during the time of redemption of their fund units. As a result, mutual funds are a relatively more tax-efficient option for investors seeking high returns.

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