The two day SEBI – OECD International Conference on Investor Education concluded in Goa today. The conference was co-hosted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The theme of the Conference was “Towards a more inclusive and secure financial world”.
The Conference was attended by nearly 200 delegates from 45 countries. Worldwide participants in the Conference included high-level officials and experts from various Securities market regulators, Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Central Banks, Regulatory and Supervisory Authorities, the Private Sector, media, the Academic and Civil Community as well as Non-Government Organisations.
In his written message to the Conference, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Honourable Finance Minister, Government of India said that the current global financial crisis highlighted, inter alia, the risks posed by the complex financial products sold without passing the suitability and appropriateness test. The crisis, thereby, underscored the importance of investor education and empowerment. He said that Government of India has been following a more inclusive approach to the growth process so as to better tap the domestic sources of savings and to provide a better tomorrow to the citizens of the country. “Recently SEBI has taken a lot of initiatives to spread investor education”, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said.
In his welcome address, Mr. Prashant Saran, Whole Time Member, SEBI said that there is a close relationship between financial education and financial inclusion. He also pointed out that in the present day global financial crisis, financial education has bearing on financial stability.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Richard Boucher, Deputy Secretary General, OECD thanked SEBI for taking the initiative and co-organising the Conference. He said that amidst the global financial crisis, confidence would not come among the investors unless their interests are protected and in this regard, self-protection through financial education is essential. “There are a variety of products in the financial industry and with variety comes complexity. With increasing complexities, investors need financial education”, he added. He also said that Investor Education is part of a wider approach including financial education, financial inclusion and financial consumer protection.
He underlined the leadership role of the OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE) and expected new guidelines on national strategies for financial education and on financial education at school.
Inaugurating the Conference, Mr. U K Sinha, Chairman, SEBI called for more research in the field of investor education. He also said that the various financial regulators in India and the Government of India are working together in the formulation of a National Policy on Financial Education. “A draft has already been prepared”, he added.
Emphasizing that investor grievance redressal should be a matter of priority, Mr. Sinha said that an effective grievance redressal mechanism should have features like uniformity, predictability and consistency. Mr. Sinha also highlighted various Investor oriented initiatives taken by SEBI like streamlining and reducing the various processes and procedures required for investing in various segments of the securities market, introduction of the concept of KYC Registration Authorities (KRAs), starting of SEBI helpline and toll free number, investor education through Resource Persons, etc.
Stressing the need for initiating financial education at school level, Mr. Sinha added that the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India is working on the plans along with SEBI and other regulators for inclusion of financial education in school curriculum of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Mr. Sinha also expressed his confidence that the conference would pave way for designing strategies for investor protection and education, with the help of OECD and International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
The Conference discussed the issues of financial inclusion and investor education through panel discussions, sessions and workshops on the following themes:
(1) adapting delivery to the needs of various and vulnerable audiences
(2) using Innovative tools and impact of new technologies
The Conference addressed international issues and global trends relating to investor education, with a particular focus on investor education in Asia. The Conference explored various specificities of investor education in the global context as rationale and research for investor education globally, main challenges for investor education, good practices and programmes to reach out to targeted groups as well as innovative solutions, and address international issues and analyse global trends, with a special attention to Asia and its investor education needs.
The Conference dwelt on the importance of learning from experience of other jurisdictions. Participants agreed to evolve a mechanism for sharing experience on regular basis.
Delivering the vote of thanks, Mr. Rajeev Kumar Agarwal, Whole Time Member, SEBI expressed his happiness that the very first joint initiative of SEBI and OECD has evoked so much response so as to bring participants from as many as 45 countries. He also pointed out that such efforts by regulators and other international organizations will go a long way in reducing the susceptibility of investors to financial abuse and fraudulent practices in the market.
February 04, 2012