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.
What this seems to indicate are 2 things
- 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.
- Diversify Adequately
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.