UTI Mutual Fund's unique initiative, Swatantra, covers 10,000 km and 10 lakh people

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | October 26, 2010
UTI's truly 'pan-Indian' initiative aims to promote mutual funds as a category and help people with wealth creation

To spread awareness on mutual fund investments, UTI Mutual Fund kicked off a unique initiative, Swatantra, in July. Claiming to be the largest investor education initiative, Swatantra was launched from Porbandar in Gujarat and will culminate in the next few days.

As a part of the initiative, three 'Knowledge Caravans' left from three locations in the country - Porbandar, Jammu and Guwahati - and are covering a total of 10,000 km in about 100 days. On their way to Kanyakumari, these caravans are educating people about mutual fund investments and wealth creation. The initiative is in partnership with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.

The caravans are covering 1,500 locations across 320 cities and towns, reaching more than 10 lakh people, says Jaideep Bhattacharya, chief marketing officer, UTI Asset Management Company.

Investors' meets are being held in all the major cities and towns and participation in these meets are free of cost. Local UTI branch members, along with marketers in these caravans, are meeting and speaking to people at town halls, schools and market places. Press support and information at local branches are being used as promotional media. People may also track the caravan via GPRS and sign up to attend the meeting at the next location.

Ten different languages have been used to talk to people in their mother tongues, a step which was found to be more appealing than talking to them in English. Thus, as the caravan moves from one place to another, literature such as brochures, leaflets and AV aids are being replaced.

Also, technology in the form of mobile prediction is being used, where people's information is keyed in to give them an idea of how much wealth they could generate by a certain age and with specific investments. People are also showed how they can buy mutual funds through their mobiles.

UK Sinha, chairperson and managing director, UTI Asset Management Company, adds, "Swatantra is India's journey to financial freedom and is the largest investor campaign in the country, which will cover more than 300 cities in 100 days through multiple investor meets. The campaign aims at inculcating financial literacy to potential investors, which will help them to take informed decisions." The aim of this activity is to promote and educate people about the mutual funds category.

On the reason for launching this initiative, Bhattacharya says that the activity was done for three reasons. First, he presents the facts and says, "Of the total population of 1.2 billion Indians, there are only about 20 million investors and the projection is that this will be about 47 million in four years' time. Out of the total Indian households, only 7 per cent invest - as compared to the 50 per cent of households that invest in the US. Therefore, penetration of mutual funds has not happened in India as planned. We are looking at increased investment in India and 'Bharat', that is, Tier II and Tier III towns."

Secondly, when it comes to wealth creation, Indians prefer investing in gold, bonds and other equities but mutual funds are not used as a route for wealth creation.

Thirdly, it will also lead to employment generation. "In India, there are about 29 lakh insurance agents, about 20 lakh doctors and nurses but only about one lakh mutual fund advisors. More advisors are needed. It is noted that 96 per cent of investment that happens in MFs happens due to advice from agents and distributors," says Bhattacharya.

While this activity commenced on July 10 and will culminate on October 28 in Kanyakumari, he feels that "it will be a milestone reaching Kanyakumari but this is just a beginning in investor awareness in India".

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