SEBI Asks Asset Managers to Set up Monthly Stress Tests

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NEW DELHI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Thursday asked asset managers to conduct monthly stress tests on their liquid and money market mutual fund portfolios to improve risk management across the sector.

SEBI said the tests should be conducted for risks from sudden destabilising changes in interest rates and credit conditions, as well as in liquidity and redemptions, according to a circular on its website.

The measures are part of regulators’ push for pre-emptive safeguard measures. India in 2013 suffered its worst market turmoil since the 1991 balance of payments crisis when it was clubbed as part of the so-called ‘Fragile Five’ countries that were seen most vulnerable to U.S. rate hikes.

In July 2013, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to extend a special borrowing window to fund houses after a sudden spike in short-term interest rates led to strong redemption pressures.

“The regulators in India have been ahead of the curve when it comes to putting in place safeguards in place for the funds industry” said Arvind Sethi, managing director and chief executive of Tata Asset Management Ltd.

“Most of us have been running these stress tests since late last year, but it’s a welcome step that SEBI has formalized these guidelines”

According to the SEBI guidelines unveiled on Thursday, fund houses will need to assess the impact of these risk parameters on their funds’ net asset values and put in place corrective policies in case vulnerability is revealed.

Liquid and money market funds in India had assets under management of 1.63 trillion rupees ($25.64 billion) as of the end of last month, according to data from the Association of Mutual Funds of India (AMFI).

The Reserve Bank of India has separately been pushing lenders to build up safeguards against potential troubles because of worries that close ties between institutions have made the financial system vulnerable to contagion in case of trouble at a single firm.

At the same time, India has also been building up its defenses against vulnerabilities from abroad, especially from eventual U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes, including by amassing currency reserves that hit a record high earlier this year.

(Report first appeared with Reuters)

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