In the November of 2021, I started the process to get registered with SEBI as a Research Analyst.
The process turned out to be more difficult than I had anticipated or accounted for. Due to system inefficiencies and corruption, I ended up paying more than 3x the initial budget and incurred a lot more in opportunity cost.
Here's a detailed report of my experience and some suggestions on how it can be made better, from a user perspective:
SEBI currently provides a detailed list of documents that are needed for RA registration in the Regulation Act. It is cumbersome and difficult to read for a person with finance background which is all the end users. A webpage can be dedicated to Registration for RAs where required documents, declarations and proofs is listed and updated as per regulatory requirements in simple language, leaving no space for interpretation. Additionally, there are key pieces of information which are not mentioned clearly in the regulation but can lead to cancellation of application and forfeiture of fees, if not provided properly. It happened in my case, thrice.
College Diploma not mark sheet
The regulation does not specify this and many people make the same mistake- The application needs to be supplemented with Graduation Diploma and not graduation mark sheet. The SEBI organization does not seek the correct documentation but straight up cancels the application and forfeits the application fee which is a hefty Rs. 5000 right now. This process needs change, communication needs to be better. If someone is able to provide the marksheet for graduation they will most likely have the diploma as well. My application was rejected twice due to this minor detail. I only learnt about it after chasing the SEBI team for many weeks.
For graduates, the minimum experience requirement is 60 months. When a metric is mentioned in months, a user will provide the details in months. But currently, SEBI calculates the experience in number of days and any rounding off is not permissible. This matter was the cause of my application getting cancelled a third time. However, I was finally met with a very helpful and genuine SEBI officer who helped me put the application through and get the license.
Few other pain points experienced were:
Post graduate education
Only post-graduation done in India is recognized but Gold standard professional international charters like CFA and CMT which are acquired after years of hard work and studying have no recognition in the eyes of SEBI. This came as a big shock. Why are only qualification acquired from an institution recognized by the Government of India honored by the regulator when it is an independent body? As a finance professional this felt quite unfair and the sentiment is mirrored by other Indians in my field. The highest quality of stock market services are provided by holders of these professional designations in India today and for them to not be recognized by an important organization like SEBI is a personal blow to many people who are seeking intermediary registrations.
The NISM Series XV exam is mandatory
This is not a huge inconvenience except for the fact that online exam provision is not available and this adds one big hurdle for small city folks like me where SEBI offices or stock exchanges are not present.
The website being used for intermediary registration is outdated and clunky. There is no transparency about the stage to which the application has progressed. I learnt In August 2022 that my application of November 2021 was cancelled in March 2022. In this duration I was writing emails and making regular calls to the SEBI portal helpline all of which went either unanswered or the response received were not useful. I remember talking to a person called Shawn who was always clueless about the department, personnels and procedure.
GST payment system was quite off track.
The GST payment via demand draft to get the license certificate after approval of the application had me jumping through hoops. It is outdated and is needs to be streamlined with the license payment of Rs. 10000 and made online.
When there is any update in the application, or cancellation, that information should ideally be made available to applicants via direct email and in the intermediary account. Currently, the login ID created gets suspended without notice. This was a major pain point and lead to wastage of months and disrupting my business plans entirely. When I contacted the IT helpline about not being able to login they kept making me go in circles stating server issues, try later or simply said I don’t know. Only when I managed to reach a specific department employee after cold calling and mass emailing to several SEBI officers did I get the intel that my application had been cancelled many months ago and therefore the account had been suspended. One cannot imagine the agony I was in after this news. If it can be arranged for automated email notification then the applicants will save themselves from been targeted by corrupt employees as detailed below.
In June 2022, I sent a representative to the SEBI office in Mumbai. After much waiting, my rep was met by an employee of SEBI called Rakesh. This person took Rs. 10000 from my representative saying the file does not move until some payment is passed. My representative was naïve enough to have made the payment. The employee was never seen or heard from again. I later learned that the application for which he made the promise had been closed earlier that year in March.
Despite of the system inefficiency and ballooned cost I have already experienced to get my registration, I am unable to reap the benefit of my Research Analyst license. The addressable market is already saturated by the presence of unregistered practitioners giving Stock Market paid services and free advice via platforms like Telegram, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp. Many of them have been practicing since multiple decades. A common portal for reporting such unregistered and misguiding practitioners is need of the hour. Not only will this level the playing field for registered practitioners but truly protect the retail investors from capital erosion caused by such ill practices and improve SEBI's standing among its intermediaries and retail participants.
I have created this report to not only capture my experience but encourage my peers. The intention of the SEBI is to enhance the safety of the stock market but unless we do not bring the inefficiencies in the market practices to light, change will remain an idea for the future. I believe I am a part of the system and I do my best every day to make it better.
Thank you for reading.
If you are seeking guidance for SEBI Research Analyst registration, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org