The number of proposals for new fund offers (NFOs) filed by mutual fund houses with markets regulator Sebi has been dwindling since past few months largely due to the nationwide lockdown and its impact on overall investor sentiment.
Fund houses approached Sebi for as many as 11 NFOs in January, the number fell to six in February and further dropped to just one in March and nil in April. In May so far, the figure stands at two, according to the markets regulator.
Since March, draft documents for only three new schemes have been filed. This comprises one by Nippon India MF in March and two by SBI MF in May and interestingly, all the three are passive funds.
"The slowdown in March/April is largely related to the lockdown and its impact on overall investor sentiment," said Kaustubh Belapurkar, Director and Manager Research, Morningstar India.
Jimmy Patel, MD and CEO, Quantum Mutual Fund said the industry is grappling with fixed income funds facing redemption pressure last month and the prevailing market conditions are not so encouraging either, which resulted in slowdown in NFO filing.
"In COVID-19 era, there seems to be uncertainty on the survival and continuity of a lot of industries and business models. At this point in time, it is not a liquidity crisis but a crisis of confidence," Ashika Wealth Advisors Co-Founder and CEO Amit Jain said.
So far in 2020, draft documents for 20 NFOs have been submitted with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Of these, some of the schemes have already been launched after getting regulatory clearances.
Of these 20 NFOs request filed with Sebi, a large chunk of these offerings are passive funds.
Patel said passive funds have slowly gaining traction as such funds do not need minimum assets under management (AUM) and investor count, Patel said.
Themes like exchange traded funds (ETFs) and environment social and governance (ESG) attracted of mutual fund companies. Besides, many mutual fund companies filed applications for index funds.
Given the defined Sebi categories most fund companies are only looking to fill gaps in their active fund bouquets if any.
"On the passive side there has been a fair bit of interest with a number of offerings around broader Index funds and ETFs as well as some thematic /sectoral ETFs. Another theme that is seeing interest is the ESG theme, which has been in the spotlight globally for a while now," Belapurkar said.
"Fund companies are beefing up their product bouquets to be ready for the future where passive funds and ESG funds will play an increasingly important role in investor portfolios," he added.
Jain said new fund offer shall increase once economic and financial stability is restored in the system.
Nippon India MF, SBI MF, Aditya Birla Sunlife MF, DSP MF, BNP Paribas MF, UTI MF, Tata MF and HSBC MF are the fund houses that approached Sebi with the offer documents for NFOs.
Nippon India Mutual Fund spokesperson said new schemes have been filed to complete our ETF portfolio suite.