China tightens oversight of $3.7 trillion mutual fund market

Chinese regulators moved to tighten oversight of the nation’s 23.9 trillion yuan ($3.7 trillion) mutual fund market, banning product recommendations by unlicensed firms and individuals.

Those without an advisory license will be prohibited from giving fund recommendations or publishing performance numbers, according to a notice from the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s Beijing bureau seen by Bloomberg.

The move cracks down on widespread recommendations by unregulated bloggers and agencies seeking to tap growing demand for mutual funds even as authorities limit licences to a handful of firms. Regulators have also banned brokerages from hiring social media influencers to attract new customers while the nation has tightened controls over broad swathes of its economy in other areas to limit risks.

Distributors without an advisory licence need to comply with the new rules by June 30, according to the document from the CSRC. The regulator’s Shanghai and Guangdong branches issued similar directives earlier this month, the official Shanghai Securities News reported.

Over the years, regulators have cracked down on opaque shadow-banking products, brought more rigor to stock investing by introducing registration-based initial share sales and opened up to global fund houses from Vanguard Group to BlackRock.

Dozens of securities firms and MFs have been granted licenses in a trial that began more than two years ago, as regulators encourage the nation’s retail investors to tap the capital markets through professional institutions.

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