Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Feb 15, 2004
Markets - Mutual Funds
New certification norm worries MF distributors
Mumbai , Feb. 14
DISTRIBUTORS of mutual funds are perturbed by the new certification requirement made mandatory for its staff members.
Under the recently announced Securities and Exchanges Board of India guidelines, all employees who are engaged in sales and marketing function and investor relations, including call centre employees, have to obtain certification from Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) by September 30.
Distributors say that call centre employees are hired on the basis of their skills of customer handling, complaints registration, etc., and not necessarily on their abilities to learn financial techniques by rote. While the test needs comprehension levels that graduates have, most call centre employees are non-graduates who have to take the examination three to four times before they obtain the certificate.
The cost of obtaining the certification is also high for the employees. The National Stock Exchange conducts the AMFI certification test online and charges Rs 1,000 for each attempt. This cost is usually borne by the candidates themselves. Some distribution houses like Cholamandalam, Birla Sun Life, etc., reimburse only candidates who pass the test.
Further, a sum of Rs 500 has to be paid to AMFI for registration and identity card. The identity card contains details of the candidate and the employing agency. This means that each time an advisor changes his job, he has to pay Rs 500 for identity card with his new employer's name inscribed.
Mr A.P. Kurien, Chairman, AMFI, says that the pass rate for the examination is between 50 per cent and 60 per cent. "The exam fee is a small price to pay. There is a necessity for the certification as this would help call centre staff answer investors' queries appropriately," he says.
"Suggesting a scheme is easy, but the staff should also understand and explain concepts like standard deviation, etc., to investors. The test is expensive and we pay for one attempt of each of our employees," says Mr Balchandra Joshi, Branch Head, Cholamandalm Distribution Services.
Investors are also being advised to deal with AMFI registered advisors only. While distribution houses have no problem with the mandatory certification requirement for frontline sales people, they see no need for the call centre staff to be certified. Order taking is rarely completed on the phone; the call centre staff only takes down the address and contact details of the customers and then dispatches field sales people to close the sale.
"The only time a deal is closed on the phone is when the customer is absolutely sure of where he wants to invest. The call centre staff merely logs the order on the computer, where is the need for certification for that?" asks a distributor.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2004, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line