MFs go social to increase penetration
“Socialising" with the masses is increasingly becoming a new mantra for Indian mutual fund houses, which have been struggling hard to increase penetration of their products. No wonder, several of these houses are now aggressively active on social networking websites — Facebook and Twitter.
Industry officials, excited about their initiative, say engaging masses with mutual funds as an investment concept is helping them reach out to existing as well as prospective investors.
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With rising internet penetration and internet on-the-go on mobile phones, fund houses do not want to get late in benefiting out of the technology boom.
|MF||Joined Facebook||No of likes|
|Birla Sun Life||Oct-11||12|
|Source : Facebook|
So, when Reliance Mutual Fund starts a discussion on a Facebook platform on “If you ignore money,money will ignore you", it readily catches users’ eyes and needless to say, comments follow. For that matter, when another thought is floated — “When it comes to planning, TOMORROW is something we should not ignore", internet users find it hard not to give a thought to it.
Sundeep Sikka, chief executive officer, Reliance Mutual Fund, says, “This not only helps us engage with people, but also to target that section of population which three to five years down the line will become a part of the earning community. So, the basic point is creating awareness and spreading education about mutual funds."
The message is clear— start reaching out to those who are young, but going to become earners in the years to come.
Reliance MF was among the first to join Facebook over two years back, and is also asking people to connect with it on Twitter. Interestingly, Reliance is not alone. Peers, HDFC MF and UTI MF soon followed suit. Lately, Birla Sun Life AMC and SBI MF, too, have joined social networking sites.
Srinivas Jain, chief marketing officer of SBI Mutual Fund, agrees with Sikka. According to him, “There is a need for different ways of communication with the investors. On our Facebook page, we are trying to educate investors. We need to make sure that investors (prospective investors) invest in mutual funds as a part of their lifestyle. And we are trying to inculcate that investment should be done for the long term."
Reliance MF has got the highest number of “likes" which stand at around 370,000, while UTI MF has the second highest at over 100,000 “likes". Moreover, not only have the big names in the industry joined these sites, but smaller players like Peerless MF, Daiwa MF and IDFC MF have also made their entry.
Industry officials say it is not that they will always be liked by the masses. “At times, there are critical remarks, too, but at least it gives a relief that people are being engaged, which is our objective," added an official.
At a time when cost pressure is on the rise and opening several branches and adding point of sales might not be possible for a majority of the fund houses, direct involvement with internet users will help create a buzz about mutual funds.
From updated fact-sheets to new launches and dividend payouts — all have been posted on Facebook to keep investors up to date. Executives admit there is huge untapped opportunity in the country as the number of overall mutual fund folios is less than 50 million in a country with 1.2 billion people. “And going on social networking sites is just a beginning in the right direction," says an industry CEO.
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