A man who feels the pulse of the market

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 10, 2017 Published on January 29, 2011


Mr U.K. Sinha


Mr Upendra Kumar Sinha, tipped to be the next Chairman of SEBI, will be no stranger to the organisation if he takes charge of the Board on February 17; the 59-year old will be the sixth SEBI Chairman and can have a five-year tenure at this post.

Coincidentally, he will also be the third Securities and Exchange Board of India head to move from a regulated entity to take charge of the regulator itself. The outgoing SEBI Chairman, Mr C.B. Bhave, was with NSDL earlier, while Mr M. Damodaran had, like Mr Sinha, headed UTI.

“This is a good development for the capital markets,” said Ms Dina Mehta who once headed BSE. “Two traits required for the post are integrity and domain knowledge, and I think he has both.”

As Joint Secretary in the economic affairs division (2002-05) in the Finance Ministry, Mr Sinha was overlooking capital markets, ECBs, pension reforms and foreign exchange management. Before that he was Joint Secretary in the banking division of the ministry.

“His strength and primary interest is public policy,” said a person closely associated with him. “The Government has sought his advice on major issues.”

He has often been the government's trouble-shooter on various committees and panels; his most recent role being the head of a panel to look into foreign fund inflows in the country. He also had a hand in drafting the SEBI (amendment) Act 2002, UTI (repeal act 2002), the Securities Law Amendment Act 2004, and the PFRDA Bill.

Mr Sinha's current reputation is that of a plain-speaking man – a person not inclined to embellish his speech or spout jargon. He was pretty forthright by nature and has even criticised the mutual fund industry for chasing institutional inflows rather than retail investments.

As Chairman and Managing Director at UTI AMC, he has often told journalists that growing assets was not so much his concern as increasing his small investor base. And he has walked the talk; UTI AMC may be only the fourth largest fund by way of assets under management, but it has the largest number of folios at 99 lakh!

“We think he will not be adamant, he is certainly more flexible and acceptable to the market, we hope he will be the same at SEBI,” said the head of a large brokerage firm.

When entry loads on mutual funds were banned in August 2009 (giving ULIPs the upper hand), Mr Sinha was one of the most vocal critics of this action. He attributed this frankness to UTI AMC being the only large pure play mutual fund while the others were floated by promoters who also had insurance businesses and could not speak out.

Mr Sinha belongs to the IAS cadre (1976). He has a Master's degree in Phyics as well as a degree in Law. He quit the IAS after becoming CMD at UTI MF. Close associates say he is interested in poetry, chiefly that of the poet Ghalib.

“He is a good guy, he understands the market,” agreed a senior official at one of the top two stock exchanges in the country.

Published on January 29, 2011
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