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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2004

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Reliance MF sets much store by smaller centres

Nilanjan Dey

Kolkata , October 19

RELIANCE Mutual Fund is seeking to enlist a new set of intermediaries as part of a plan to expand its network in smaller centres. Its targets seem to include driving schools, computer training institutes and even medical representatives.

A move by the fund to rope in distributors in Durgapur has been set off through an insertion in a leading English language newspaper, in which driving schools and sundry others (who will be eventually called `business associates') have been requested to come up with tie-up proposals.

The MF has asked for eligibility conditions that can be best described as nominal - a graduate degree, fluency in languages, understanding of local business prospects and the like.

The MF's initiative seems to be one of the many innovative attempts by fund houses to sell their products, say investment circles.

While such attempts are now a critical part of their overall growth plans, roping in medical reps and similar entities is being considered more than a bit unusual.

The fund in question has itself grown rapidly in recent times. While the asset base has moved up significantly, the fund has been courageous enough to venture into the rarefied world of sectoral funds, courtesy schemes dedicated to banking, power, pharma and media.

The enrolment drive for Durgapur has also seen Reliance MF talk about a few add-ons.

While adequate space for running the business and computer literacy has been considered important for a candidate, he or she is required to be a resident of the area for at least three years.

The fund's list of preferences includes direct sales agents (DSAs) engaged by banks, C&F agents of companies and sales representatives.

As MF industry sources point out, an intermediary must necessarily have a lot other than sufficient physical infrastructure. The Association of Mutual Funds in India has progressed considerably when it comes to registration of distribution.

Sources, however, feel that an AMFI certification is merely a starting point and there should be more to it than just that.

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