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Clearing and Settlement Process in Stock Markets

01 November 2021

The process of buying or selling of stocks online has been made smooth and seamless. 

Amount is debited from your account and you receive the shares in your Demat account. Same way, for sale transactions, shares are debited from your Demat account while the selling price is credited to your banking account.

To ensure smooth operations and minimal risk, regulators have designed a trading cycle, as well as, a clearing and settlement process. As an investor, you don’t need to get into the technical details of these processes. However, it is important that you understand the working. 

Here is what you should know about the clearing and settlement process in the stock market.

Clearing and Settlement Process When You Buy a Share 

To buy or sell shares, you need a Demat account where your shares are stored as well as for trading, and a bank account for monetary transactions.

  • Day 1:

Let’s say that you buy 100 shares of HDFC Bank Ltd. at Rs.500 per share. Therefore, the total purchase price is Rs.50,000.

The day you purchase the shares is known as the Trade Day or T Day.

Once the trading day ends, your broker debits Rs.50,000 plus the brokerage and all associated charges from your linked bank account.

However, the stocks are yet to reach your Demat account. The broker also shares a contract note that details all the transactions done during the day. This along with the details of the breakup of charges made by your broker. This is like a bill that you need to preserve for future reference.

  • Day 02 

The day after you purchase the shares is known as Trade Day + 1 or T+1 Day. 

Nothing happens on this day. The money is still debited from your banking account but you haven’t received the shares yet.

Even if you don’t have the shares in your account, you can sell the ones that you bought yesterday called the BTST or Buy-Today-Sell-Tomorrow trade. This is a high-risk transaction and is usually not recommended to investors who are new to stock trading. 

The stock exchange collects the purchase amount and charges from the broker on T+1 Day.

  • Day 03 

The second day after you purchase the shares is known as Trade Day + 2 or T+2 Day. 

On the T+2 Day, the shares are debited from the Demat account of the person who sold them and credited to your broker’s account. Your broker credits them to your Demat account by the end of the day. On the same day, the money that was debited from your banking account is credited to the seller’s banking account.

So, in a nutshell, when you buy shares, on T Day, the money gets debited on the same day and you receive the shares on T+2 Day.

Clearing and Settlement Process When You Sell a Share 

Using the example cited above, sale of shares process is as follows:

  • You sell shares Day 01 or T Day. The shares are blocked in your Demat account immediately. Hence, you cannot sell the same shares on the same day.
  • On Day 02 (T+1 Day), the broker gives the shares to the exchange.
  • On Day 03 (T+2 Day), you receive funds in your banking account post deduction of all charges.

The process

The clearing and settlement process is divided into three:

  • Trade Execution – where the buy or sell order is executed by you. This happens on T Day.
  • Clearing – where the responsible entity identifies the number of shares that the seller owes and the amount of money that the buyer owes for every trade. It also determines the obligation of all parties and assesses risk. This is done on T+1 Day.
  • Settlement – where the shares are moved from the seller’s account to the buyer’s account and the money is moved from the buyer to the seller. This is done on T+2 Day.

This is the core clearing and settlement process in a stock exchange.

While this is the theoretical aspect, in real time, the settlement, however, happens much quicker. Perhaps in T+1 or T+2 day itself. At present, all equity trades are settled on a T+2 basis where investors receives the shares two days after purchase. 

SEBI, the market regulator, has recently introduced T+1 settlement cycle. Though it is yet to be implemented, this speeds the process to a whole new level.

To ensure that this process is smooth, the Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) has created several entities as described below.

Entities Involved in the Clearing and Settlement Process 

Depository

While traditionally shares were held in a physical certificate format, today it is mandatory to hold them in the electronic or dematerialized form. Hence, a Demat account is mandatory for share transactions. SEBI has created a structure to ensure optimum performance and maximum control over Demat accounts by creating Depositories – entities that hold your Demat accounts.

All participants including investors, brokers, and clearing members need to have a Demat account to trade in the stock exchange.

Clearing Corporation

This is an entity associated with a stock exchange that handles the confirmation, settlement, and delivery of shares. It acts as a buyer for the seller and a seller for the buyer. In simpler terms, it facilitates purchase on one end of the transaction and sale on the other. It ensures that the settlement cycles are short and consistent while keeping the transaction risks in check and providing a counter-party risk guarantee.

Clearing Members and Custodians

The clearing corporation fulfills its role by transferring every trade to a clearing member or custodian. Their core responsibility is ensuring that the funds and shares are available on T+2 Day. They need to have a clearing pool Demat account with a depository for receiving and sending shares pertaining to the trade.

Clearing Banks

Since there is a movement of money, SEBI has created a list of 13 clearing banks that aid in the settlement of funds. Every clearing member has to open a clearing account with one of these banks. If the clearing member is settling a purchase transaction, then it needs to ensure that the funds are made available in this account before the settlement.

On the other hand, if it is settling a sale transaction, then the funds are received by the clearing member in the clearing account. Almost all the banks are do clearing including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI, and Axis Bank.

How Trades are Cleared and Settled in the Stock Market

Here is a quick overview of the actual process of clearing and settlement in the stock market:

  1. The stock exchange transfers the details of every trade to the clearing corporation on T Day.
  2. The clearing corporation informs the clearing members and custodians about the details of the trade and asks them to confirm if they are willing to settle the trade or not. Upon receiving the confirmation, the clearing corporation determines the obligations of the clearing member or custodian.
  3. The clearing corporation sends the details of the obligations and pay-in advice of securities or funds to each clearing member/custodian.
  4. Once the details are received, the clearing members or custodians to:
    • Clearing banks to make the funds available; and 
    • Depositories to make securities available by the pay-in time
  5. The clearing corporation receives funds and securities from the clearing banks and depositories for purchase and sale transactions respectively. So, if a clearing member is settling a purchase transaction, then the corporation receives the money in its clearing account via the clearing bank. Also, for sale transactions, the corporation receives securities in its pool account via the depository. 
  6. Once this is done, it instructs the depositories and clearing banks to transfer the securities and funds to clearing members/custodians for purchase and sale transactions. So, if a clearing member is settling a purchase transaction, then the corporation transfers securities to its pool account. Also, for sale transactions, the corporation transfers money to the clearing account via the clearing bank.

There are many ways in which SEBI ensures that the clearing and settlement process ensures market integrity by becoming the counterparty to each trade. This is essential to ensuring the availability of liquid and effective markets.

Disclaimer

The stocks mentioned in this article are not recommendations. Please conduct your own research and due diligence before investing. Investment in securities market are subject to market risks, read all the related documents carefully before investing. Please read the Risk Disclosure documents carefully before investing in Equity Shares, Derivatives, Mutual fund, and/or other instruments traded on the Stock Exchanges. As investments are subject to market risks and price fluctuation risk, there is no assurance or guarantee that the investment objectives shall be achieved. NBT do not guarantee any assured returns on any investments. Past performance of securities/instruments is not indicative of their future performance.
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