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RBI and SEBI Join Forces to Address Retail Activity in Equity F&O Market

19 June 20243 mins read by Angel One
The RBI and SEBI are addressing the surge in retail participation in the equity F&O market by proposing measures to link trading limits to investors' financial capacity.
RBI and SEBI Join Forces to Address Retail Activity in Equity F&O Market
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The RBI and SEBI have collaborated to mitigate the risks associated with the surging retail participation in the equity futures and options (F&O) market. This joint effort aims to address concerns about the financial well-being of individual investors, many of whom have incurred significant losses.

Surge in Retail Participation

Recent data from SEBI reveals a dramatic 500% increase in retail investor participation in the equity derivatives market over the past three years. This surge has been driven largely by investors in their 30s, who are attracted by the high potential returns but often unaware of the associated risks. A SEBI study highlighted that nine out of ten individual traders experienced losses in the previous fiscal year, with average losses amounting to approximately Rs.1.1 lakh ($1,300)​ 

Regulatory Concerns and Measures

The primary concern of SEBI and RBI is the financial vulnerability of small investors who might suffer substantial losses due to market volatility. In response, SEBI is contemplating regulatory measures to curb “disproportionate trading.” One proposed measure includes linking the value of F&O trades to the investors’ income and net worth which aims to ensure that traders do not overextend themselves financially​.

Past and Future Frameworks

In 2017, SEBI attempted a similar framework, which was eventually abandoned due to operational challenges faced by brokers in evaluating clients’ net worth. However, the recent study revealing significant retail losses has prompted a reconsideration of these restrictions. SEBI plans to initiate the regulatory process with a discussion paper to gather feedback and refine the proposed measures​.

Global Context

The concept of regulating retail participation in high-risk markets is not unique to India. For instance, South Korea implemented entry barriers for retail investors in equity derivatives, including mandatory training and minimum deposits. Although these restrictions were relaxed in 2019, they initially aimed to protect small investors from significant financial losses.​ 

Conclusion: The collaboration between RBI and SEBI showcases the regulators’ commitment to safeguarding retail investors in India’s equity F&O market. By implementing measures that tie trading limits to financial capacity, the regulators hope to mitigate the risks of disproportionate trading and ensure a more secure trading environment for individual investors.

Disclaimer: This blog has been written exclusively for educational purposes. The securities mentioned are only examples and not recommendations. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making related decisions.

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