Approach Approaches With Caution

SEBI has recently revised its reporting format for Portfolio Management Services (PMS) to include more detailed information regarding manager operations and performance. This is a good step towards furthering transparency in the asset management industry and is intended to help the investing public in their selection of the right product or service for their portfolio.
 
The data reported to SEBI is published on its website.
 
Caution: This data is not verified by SEBI and may contain errors.
 
One change in the reporting format has been the elimination of performance reporting at the overall PMS level (i.e. including all assets managed under discretionary services). Instead of this, a reporting of assets and performance at individual “approach” or scheme level is required. For example, some PMSes may have different strategies based on market capitalisation of companies, others may have strategies based on sectors or themes. Each of the performances (net returns to investors) of these “approaches” is reported separately. 
 
It would have been nice if SEBI had kept the mandate for overall PMS-level performance reporting as well, or at least for reporting at the asset-class level, such as debt or equity, because PMS approaches, like mutual fund schemes, can be changed or discontinued at any time. The option of having unlimited approaches or schemes allows unscrupulous asset managers to game the system by marketing and pushing schemes or approaches that have recently fared well. The most robust investment decisions are made when examining long-term, i.e. 5+ and 10+ year, performance data. While knowledgeable investors are aware of this and can make choices accordingly, others may be fooled by the information asymmetry that can exist in the presence of data overkill.

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