As we get into the second quarter of 2021, life seems to have come full circle, as they say, and we seem to be well into a 2.0 version of last year. But just a few weeks back, the memories of 2020 and the troubles wrought by the pandemic seemed distant and fading. Life had more or less returned to normalcy in most parts, and people seemed to be mingling as though social distancing was a bad dream.
While the memories of last year seem short-lived, I have a different view on this – keeping the experiences of the last 12 months alive in our memories and better still, taking actionable insights from it to prepare for the future, may be one way of being safer and more secure in a future increasingly turbulent and uncertain. So, as we go into a vicious relapse, it may be prudent to quickly assess how each one of us fared during those stressful times.
Most of you would have heard of a “Stress Test”. In personal health, a stress test assesses the state of your overall fitness and particularly your heart. Simply put, a stress test simulates the health and strength of any system that you wish to test, through appropriately designed procedures. Similarly, one can design a stress test to check how prepared one is financially to endure a financial crisis, like what happened in the last few quarters.
Answering this simple six question test below will be a rudimentary yet effective way to check how healthy your personal finances are. Our latest article, published on Money9.
Our behaviors towards money and the money decisions that we make at various junctures in our life are influenced by our experiences at a formative level, right from childhood.
Am sure that this comes as no surprise, after all, money experiences are also a part of the various influences that form us through our life. Where I see a bit of a twist is that while my family was a fairly orthodox one, the women in the family were curiously still quite involved, and to some extent, even dominant, in some of the money decisions that were taken.
A friend was talking to me recently about an interaction he was having with some others, where there was a furious debate on about where to invest, as well as which asset classes including geographies would deliver better returns going forward. As you would agree, this particular topic of debate is not uncommon at all and today’s information-empowered world has led to both more aware investors as well as more confused investors.
Investors usually seem overtly focused on “returns” and are always keen to know where to put their money next. This is especially so during a bull market, and when the recent past has given very good returns. But, excessive focus on returns is usually a function of “not enough focus” on a few other important yet ignored aspects. Focusing adequately on these other aspects leads to enough and more clarity on which asset class an investor should choose and what “returns” the investor should expect going forward.
Are real life situations and financial decisions assessed for risks in a very similar way by investors? There are parallels but they are not always handled similarly. Here are some anecdotes with some pertinent personal finance lessons, that helps us understand the differences in the choices people make in real-life situations, vs managing their money.
Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.
Enough has been spoken about the markets in last few months, including the never-seen-before kind of drops and recoveries. In such times, one would have assumed that retail investors would have beaten a hasty retreat, hoping to come back when markets seem a bit saner.
Surprisingly, that is not the case. The below 2 published data points indicate otherwise.
New demat account openings for most brokers have surged, with anywhere between 50 to 200% increases being reported, many of them first-time users.
Retail investors took advantage of the available time (due to the lockdown) and the valuations (in March & April post the ~ 35% crash) to enter and invest in the stock market to make some “quick” returns
Considering that the bulk of these new additions are online, it can be presumed that the average new investor is young and technology-savvy, while not afraid to take risks while seeking to make a quick buck
Is this good news? Well, it depends on how one looks at it. History indicates that institutional investors are generally smarter than retail, who usually enter late to the party. The average holding returns of mutual funds is significantly higher than the average investor returns in the same funds, underscoring this fact.
On the other hand, the fact that the market participation is broadening and that too in times of market distress is heartening and shows some maturity in the mind of the average retail investor. This millennial generation is possibly different and smarter than its precursors. They are also adopting the new “do-it-yourself” way, already popular in developed countries.
That said, trading in the stock market for short term gains is fraught with risks, and can result in substantial capital loss, if one doesn’t have a good hang of what one is doing. Having an Investment Framework based on the following 4 levers can possibly help today’s investor to increase his or her chances of success in the stock market.
Strong Knowledge-based Investment Hypothesis
Know each stock you invest in. Spend time on research, make sure you understand the company and its prospects, and do not get lured by tips and penny stock advice. This is fundamental to your framework and dilution here is akin to having a rotten foundation, leading your structure to fall, sooner or later.
Laid-down Investment Horizons & Goals
Even the best race-car driver needs a destination, a target. Similarly, map your purchase to an outcome based on your investment hypothesis, with a time-horizon in mind. Tie it to a goal, so that neither does your horizon become a moving target, nor are you tempted to exit early during adversities, impacting your goal.
Clear & Documented Process for Exits
Based on your investment hypothesis, you will know when you need to book profits, in case your target/goal is met. Similarly, however good your investment hypothesis might have been, factors change and hypotheses fail. So have a clear plan to exit in case things don’t play out the way you saw them. Having a documented process for both value-based and time-based exits, with clear rationales, is a good way to both, limit your losses and not fall in love with your darlings.
However good your stock selection maybe, expecting each to be a winner is unreasonable. Diversification is a hedge against both, failed hypotheses as well as capital loss. Build a portfolio of 15-20 stocks over time and have a cap on each stock as a % of your portfolio. 6 winners out of 10 is a good enough ratio for the portfolio.
Dear retail investor, Success in the stock market is an outcome of 3 factors – Relevant Knowledge, Robust Process and Resilient Temperament. Please use the above-mentioned levers to build a personal Investment Framework and whenever you feel swayed by emotion, go back to it and read it. You will find that not only is it helpful in the stock market, but in everyday life too. Happy investing!
Image credit: MayoFinance, Unsplash
Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families invest for their financial needs, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.
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A slightly modified version of this article was published recently on fpstudycircle.com.
We are now deep into the festival season, and normally, it would be visible, through the familiar sights and sounds associated with it. This time around though, things are different.
But one thing hasn’t changed much and that is us waiting with bated breath for Sale Season. Offline or Online, there is something about Sales that get us going. We are inherently deal-seekers, and good deals get us all pumped up.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our actions when it comes to our investments in the markets. The same shopper as investor feels more comfortable entering the financial markets when markets are at highs rather than at lows. And panics to sell assets at a loss when there is a market crash, rather than buying more.
Read on to know more in our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.
In the last couple of years, there has been a lot said and done with respect to categorization of mutual funds. The regulator has attempted to put some structure in place for fund houses and managers through the categorization guidelines, in order to help investors make informed choices.
That said, it can still be quite confusing for the lay investor to understand these categories. Thankfully, there is something else that is universally understood. Cricket! And within it, IPL!
Fans know every team’s strengths and weaknesses while having his or her favourite teams to root for. So, if equity mutual fund categories were IPL 2020 teams, who would they be?
Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.
The last few months have seen market volatility at never-seen-before levels. We saw the sharpest drop ever, with nearly a 30-35% drop in key indices less than a month. Yet, before one could even say “bear”, the fastest-ever recovery also followed in the next 3 months, with most indices recovering smartly from their March bottoms, to be close to their pre-COVID highs.
For customers, emotional reactions are completely understandable. On one hand, there is loss-aversion at work, and on the other, there is the fear of missing out, or FOMO.
So, coming back to the question, how does one handle such situations? Is there a way to navigate markets, especially when they go through such roller-coaster rides?
Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol, to help you wade through this emotional jungle and take the right decisions.
For most people, the last few months has been a never-before experience. Whether it is about finding out how secure is your financial position in this crisis, or about understanding what is really important for you versus isn’t, or about looking for new opportunities in an otherwise generally hopeless time, it has been a period of discovery.
For me, this period has reiterated a few money lessons which I have learnt and personally tried to follow over the last few years. If anything, this crisis has confirmed to me that the path towards financial, in fact, overall well-being lies along successfully practicing these lessons.
Read about them in our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.
A few months back, I met a friend of mine who was down from the US on a holiday. This is someone who had done quite well for himself over the last nearly 20 years in the US, and has built a fairly large investment portfolio. As part of it, he has also successfully built a real estate portfolio over the years in the US. Discussions veered towards that, and he said something that made me sit up.
His words were “I love Leverage”.
The use of the word “Leverage” instead of “Debt” somehow made all the difference for me to look at it in a new light. Yes, loans are bad, and one should be debt-free in one’s pursuit of financial well-being. That said, I have since also realized that Debt is not as one-dimensional as one thinks it is.
Coming back to the original question, let’s look at Debt differently and build some simple rules around it, which can be generally followed, towards one’s financial well-being.
Read our latest article below, published on Moneycontrol.