ISLAMABAD - The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has introduced Sahulat Sarmayakari Accounts for opening of mutual funds accounts by individual low-risk customers and branchless banking account holders with asset management companies (AMCs).

This initiative by the SECP is aimed at achieving the objectives of financial inclusion as set out in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) recently adopted by the government of Pakistan. Moreover, recent expansion in online and branchless banking warrants innovative products to facilitate the investors.

Now AMCs can open account of individual investors by obtaining certain minimum information on a simplified one-page form. This information can be obtained either directly from the investor or in case of branchless banking account can be transferred from mobile service provider. The information will be subsequently verified through NADRA, and then the account shall be made operational. The maximum investment limit for low-risk investors at any point of time is Rs 800,000 whereas the limit is Rs400, 000 for branchless banking customers. The AMCs can open only one account against a single computerized national identification card (CNIC).

Initially, this facility is available for investment in money market funds and income funds, which may be subsequently available for other categories of mutual funds after customer risk profiling by the AMC. The requirements stipulate that AMCs shall employ internal control mechanisms to monitor any suspicious transaction in line with the international standards.

It is expected that the provision of simplified criteria for opening of mutual funds accounts by individual low risk customers and branch less banking account holders will create an enabling environment to enhance retail base of mutual fund industry.