While this helpline has been proposed to be set up with an initial manpower of 50 agents, the agency needs to have sufficient infrastructure that is “scalable to accommodate four times beyond the initial requirement of agents in the next three years time", Sebi said in a tender notice.

Among other requirements, the agency would need to respond to the investors in 14 languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Telugu, Urdu, Assamese, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi and Kashmiri.

While Sebi has been already providing a toll-free helpline service in multiple languages since December 2011, it is now looking to empanel new third-party agencies for this service.

The main scope of work for the helpline, for which bids have been invited within 21 days, would be attending phone calls on how to lodge a complaint, against whom to lodge a complaint and how to open trading accounts, etc.

Besides, the agents would also provide complaint status and assist investors on issues like share transfers and IPOs.

The helpline also aims to provide investors guidance pertaining to status of the companies (whether they are unlisted, sick, vanished or delisted), on matters pertaining to other regulators that are not under Sebi purview.

However, this helpline would not provide legal opinions or investment advice. The agents would record and track all calls and revert to Sebi within 24 hours on processing status.

Sebi said that bids can be submitted by "reputed agencies who qualify as per the pre-qualification criteria from the field of Business Process Outsourcing/Call centers to provide end to end services for setting up of Helpline to the investors of Securities Market. The tenure of the empanelment to provide Helpline services will be three years, extendable up to five years.”

The agency needs to be registered as a company under Companies Act and it should not have been blacklisted by any government agency or PSU in the last two financial years.

It needs to have a minimum average annual turnover of Rs 50 crore during last three years and should not have incurred any losses in more than two years during the past five years.

At least two Sebi officials will be permanently posted at the main office of the Helpline Agency, whose business focus must include processes relating to finance and securities market. The Agency also needs to be registered with software industry body Nasscom.

The agency would be subjected to monthly performance review by Sebi, while its agents need to be at least graduates and must not have any criminal record or proceeding pending or in process in any court of law.

The agents should have ‘accent free speech’, while the agency would need to hire them in consultation with Sebi.

(Agencies)

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