A blog on financial markets and their regulation
Regulatory overreach: SEBI definition of research analyst
September 2, 2014Posted by on
Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued regulations requiring all Research Analysts to be registered with SEBI. The problem is that the regulations use a very expansive definition of research analyst. This reminds me of my note of dissent to the report of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) on the issue of definition of financial service. I wrote in that dissent that:
Many activities carried out by accountants, lawyers, actuaries, academics and other professionals as part of their normal profession could attract the regitration requirement because these activities could be construed as provision of a financial service … All this creates scope for needless harassment of innocent people without providing any worthwile benefits.
Much the same could be said about the definition of the definition of research analyst. Consider for example this blog post by Prof. Aswath Damodaran of the Stern School of Business at New York University on the valuation of Twitter during its IPO. It clearly meets the definition of a research report in Regulation 2(w):
any written or electronic communication that includes research analysis or research recommendation or an opinion concerning securities or public offer, providing a basis for investment decision
Regulation 2(w) has a long list of exclusions, but Damodaran’s post does not fall under any of them. Therefore, clearly Damodaran would be a research analyst under Regulation 2(u) under several of its prongs:
a person who is primarily responsible for:
- preparation or publication of the content of the research report; or
- providing research report; or
- offering an opinion concerning public offer,
with respect to securities that are listed or to be listed in a stock exchange
Under Regulation 3(1), Prof. Damodaran would need a certificate of registration from SEBI if he were to write a similar blog post about an Indian company. Or, under Regulation 4, he would have to tie up with a research entity registered in India.
Regulations of this kind are a form of regulatory overreach that must be prevented by narrowly circumscribing the powers of regulators in the statute itself. To quote another sentence that I wrote in the FSLRC dissent note: “regulatory self restraint … is often a scarce commodity”.