August 17, 2023
NCAER, in collaboration with the Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA), organised a webinar on “Investor Protection Framework in India: Challenges and Road Ahead’’, on 17 August 2023, to promote financial literacy and investor awareness and protection among investors. The webinar, which was attended by the investor community, and NCAER and IEPFA staff, among others, was organised under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.
The Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA), set up on September 7, 2016, by the Government of India, is a landmark initiative of the Union Government, aimed at ensuring refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, and matured deposits/debentures, among other things, to investors; distributing disgorged amounts to rightful applicants; promoting awareness among investors; and ensuring the protection of their interests. This mandate for the IEPFA is part of the government’s efforts to make all citizens equal partners in the country’s financial development.
The IEPFA has been dedicatedly fulfilling this mandate since its inception. It has organised a record number of Investor Awareness Programmes to help achieve inclusive financial literacy for stakeholders in rural, semi-urban, and urban areas besides enabling the rightful claimants to get their due unclaimed shares, dividends, and debentures speedily.
The event featured a keynote address by Ms. Anita Shah Akella, CEO of IEPFA and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Ms. Akella’s address underscored the criticality of financial education and protection in the rapidly evolving financial landscape. She highlighted the need for informed decision-making and of safeguarding investor interests in an environment where financial markets are subject to rapid transformation. She elaborated on the concept of a “financially educated” individual, encompassing a comprehensive understanding of economic fundamentals, adept money management, and insightful decision-making, spanning budgeting, savings, investments, and consumer choices. This holistic understanding empowers individuals to navigate the intricate realm of financial resources, assets, credit, insurance, and taxes, and make prudent choices that resonate beyond individual households, creating positive impacts on communities and societies.
Ms Akella’s address was followed by a panel discussion on the challenges confronting the investor protection framework in India. The following panellists shared their expertise on various topics, including insurance, digital initiatives, cybercrime awareness, evolving banking systems, and the pivotal role of regulatory bodies in fostering investor awareness.
Mr. Dhirendra Kumar, founder of Value Research, delved into the practicality of insurance tools and the need for simplified and comprehensive information disclosure to investors prior to making investment decisions. Mr. R.K. Nair, former Member of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), elaborated on insurance matters, emphasising the practicality and transparent information disclosure about insurance tools to investors. Mr. Neeraj Nigam, Executive Director at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), provided insights into evolving banking systems and the RBI’s role in promoting investor awareness in modern times. Mr. Gangesh Varma, Principal Associate of Technology and Policy at Saraf and Partners, discussed digital initiatives for investor awareness and the indispensable need to educate investors about cybercrime prevention.
The panel discussion was adeptly moderated by Dr. C.S. Mohapatra, IEPF Chair Professor at NCAER. The IEPF Chair has been established at NCAER with the support of the IEPFA under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. Dr Mohapatra stated that investor protection is a two-way process: while the regulators, government and agencies need to work on policies and their implementation, the investors need to be alert and aware enough to be able to take sound financial decisions. The stakeholders need to strive collectively towards a secure and enabled environment, and investors need to be well-informed, and wary of frauds and mis-selling. He stressed the need for comprehensive research and surveys to guide policy, apart from intensified efforts to build the trust and confidence of investors, both domestic and foreign, as also to ensure the availability of simplified processes and products.
Concluding the event, Mr. Sumit Agarwal, AGM at IEPFA, extended a vote of thanks, acknowledging the invaluable contributions of all the participants, speakers, and attendees. He lauded the collaborative spirit of the webinar, aligning stakeholders towards the shared goal of enhancing financial literacy and safeguarding investor interests. As global economies embrace digital transformation and financial inclusivity, the event illuminated the pivotal role of financial literacy in unlocking the true potential of these advancements.