Sunday, October 4, 2009

CAMS Active Statement

My blood pressure almost always shoots up a few notches when I receive the monthly CAMS Active Statement. For those of you not familiar with CAMS or its ActiveStatement, CAMS manages mutual fund transactions for various fund houses in India. While I am ignorant about its size I can definitely guess it is one of the leading providers as many fund houses use its services.

A few months (perhaps almost a year) ago CAMS decided to ditch their regular (read irregular) email updates for this all new format called the Active Format. This is what it looks like

cams active statement

I pledge on my soul that everything contained on that page is utter and blatant lie.

Once you click the black push pin a page opens in the browser which looks like this

screen1

Lets deconstruct the ActiveStatement one point at a time

Active Statement is a BIG HTML File

The active statement is a secured PDF which contains a single html file. Basically when you click the big black push pin the file opens in a browser and thats how the user gets to the see his transactions. My guess is that CAMS chose PDF because it offers some form of encryption. On top of that they had no clue on how to display the data within a PDF document. Havent we heard about links , table of contents within a PDF document. It escapes me why someone would like to use a PDF and HTML formats together, when PDF itself is a pretty capable format

Password protection

The password used to protect these documents also varies by mutual fund houses. While majority of the ActiveStatements I receive uses the PAN number to decrypt the document there is one instance where I need to supply the actual folio number to open up the attachment. Talk about consolidation. If the ultimate objective is to tie the transactions across fund houses shouldnt the same password be used.

Usability

Usability is perhaps the biggest eye sore of this document. Sample this. While the transaction list for a certain duration can be seen by clicking on the “Transactions in the Period” there is no easy way to figure out the progressive cumulative units in the same screen.

transactions 

All my life I have been used to seeing the units and the cumulative balance and finally the net worth on the same screen. ActiveStatement decided to ditch this well entrenched convention and instead placed all the information under the “Composition of Portfolio” tab. One could argue that since this statement really aggregates information across various folios this is the right place for such information. However look at what they do

transactions2

Transaction history is summed up again (this time in red) and the net worth highlighted on the top. Why on earth would you like to repeat the transaction history if it has already been captured (a bit more elegantly) on a different tab

Broken Functionality

So far I havent really been able to consolidate all my folios under a single ActiveStatement. I am not the kind of guy who would rush to physical investment shops to try and make it happen. I prefer to conduct and complete the transaction online. However the CAMS processes forces you to a paper trial sooner rather than later.

The need for security has been taken to Zealot levels. Clicking on links to request consolidation leads you to such pages. The active statement states that the links will be active only till a certain date. Wouldnt you atleast like to have the links till the time the next statement arrives in your inbox.

link expired

I have lost my complete faith in the ActiveStatement. I am more than happy in receiving a single monthly statement per fund house.

Can CAMS give me back my sense of sanity

34 comments:

Mahesh Gopaldas, CAMS Chennai said...

Thank you for your candid comments about the ActiveStatement. It is our intention that with this “near online” offering we should reach out to a huge population that is comfortable with online activity but is unwilling to go through the legal paperwork that inevitably precedes such access. We would like to respond to the pain points you have listed:

PDF encapsulation of HTML is employed, as you have correctly surmised, to provide a degree of encryption. The ActiveStatement is actually an entire application posing as a statement; witness the charting and other applets embedded within. While evaluating HTML/JS as the platform for the ActiveStatement itself, we followed standards of development that our organization follows for all other web enabled applications, and which would allow for future code reuse and interoperability.

The password used is ALWAYS the PAN number for all consolidated statements that are requested from our website www.camsonline.com. However, where the statements are pushed out consequent to a transaction, they are limited to the folio transacted and the consolidation ability is not employed. In such cases alone the password policy varies as per respective AMC instructions, but in every case the password policy is set out in the cover email.

The Transaction Listing section does not contain the cumulative units for the reason you have mentioned. The Portfolio section breaks up the balances into Cost and Age Lots. While this may appear prima facie redundant, it would help when a redemption is planned by ensuring, for example, that only one year old units are redeemed thus facilitating Long Term Capital Gains Tax and escaping an exit fee.

If you haven’t been able to consolidate your folios under a single statement we would really like to help you make that happen. Please do email me at mm_gopaldas@camsonline.com and we will make sure it happens.

The links are valid for 30 days, and there is a link to also obtain an updated statement. The standard of 30 days is set based on best practices followed in Financial Services, and to ensure no inconvenience, there is a clearly labeled link to obtain an updated statement.

We would have been very glad if, in addition to your post you had also chosen to email us via our website www.camsonline.com as we would have resolved your issues that much sooner. We look forward to your response and to your “pull” usage of www.camsonline.com

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