SEBI to Rein in Unregistered Finfluencers Associating with Regulated Entities

Markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), released two short discussion papers on August 25, 2023 that aim to rein in the malpractices of unregulated entities, including financial influencers or finfluencers, who provide stock tips and recommendations to investors.

The paper aims to introduce measures to curb the association of intermediaries or regulated entities registered with SEBI, along with their agents or representatives, with unregistered entities, including fininfluencers.

In its proposal, the markets regulator has put forward that brokerage firms or mutual funds can associate with only SEBI-registered investment advisors or research analysts.

In addition, the markets regulator has proposed that if any unregistered entity is found using the name of any SEBI-registered entity, then the latter should lodge a formal complaint.

The markets regulator has further proposed that finfluencers that register with SEBI, stock exchanges or the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) will be required to show their valid registration number along with other requisite details while including appropriate disclosure and disclaimer on their posts. Besides, they would be required to adhere to the advertisement guidelines issued by SEBI, stock exchanges and any other SEBI-recognised supervisory body.

At the same time, another proposal puts a curb on SEBI-registered intermediaries or regulated entities from paying any trailing commission based on the number of referrals as referral fees. However, limited referrals from retail clients and payment of fees for these particular limited referrals by stockbrokers would be allowed.

SEBI’s consultation papers have put the spotlight on the fact that finfluencers are usually unregistered entities who generally dole out catchy content, information, and advice on various financial topics to their followers.

SEBI has invited comments on the consultation papers on the association of SEBI-registered intermediaries/ regulated entities with unregistered entities (including finfluencers) by September 15, 2023.

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