To strengthen its surveillance activities, capital markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is planning to conduct ‘profiling’ of major investors in different segments of the market to understand their trading patterns and the impact on the market.

This follows SEBI having put in place mechanisms for risk profiling of the brokers and listed companies so as to understand the associated risk.

The issue assumes significance as trading moves of some large investors can often have a ‘bellwether-like’ impact on the overall markets and therefore could pose systemic risks, a senior official said.

This has become more important in cases of algorithmic or high-frequency trades, as the impact of the trading activities of major investors or traders could be quite big and really fast, requiring a very robust surveillance system, he added.

As per a proposal being considered very actively by the SEBI, the regulator’s Integrated Surveillance Department would conduct profiling of major clients or investors in various segments to understand the pattern of their market participation and their impact.

The proposed move would have a special emphasis on the algorithmic trade and High-Frequency Trading (HFT) among others.

This will necessitate upgradation of resources for understanding and effective surveillance, especially for the algorithmic trades and the HFT activities.

To help it better regulate the marketplace and strengthen its surveillance system, SEBI has adopted a supervision model based on risk levels for various market entities including brokers and mutual funds.

Under the new model, various market entities are being divided into four groups very low risk, low risk, medium risk and high risk and the quantum of surveillance and number of inspections increase as per the risk level.

This new supervision regime has been put in place as per recommendations of an independent global consultant and the subsequent suggestions made by an internal task force at SEBI, while taking into account practices followed by many overseas regulators.

The move would help the existing surveillance system take care of most of the smaller offences, so that the investigation resources are utilised more effectively to tackle serious violations in the market place.

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