No 1 rule in bear market decision making: Decide when to Decide

In my earlier post here, I had discussed on how a “what-if-things-go-wrong” plan helps you preload your decisions and reduce the no of decisions during market fall.

Since this thought process has evolved only recently for me, I have not really got the chance to test it out as I am waiting for the next fall.

As always I have my doubts as to –

What if this is just some fancy intellectual gyaan?

Let us use history as a guide and check if this makes practical sense..

As mentioned earlier, the primary objective is to –

Reduce the number of decision points during a market fall

Let us check if our plan helps in this endeavor.

So let me time travel back by 28 years (since Nifty Index was started) and check on how many decisions I needed to take when markets started to fall.

In the above chart the orange line represents the % fall of Nifty from its previous peak value on each and every day for the last 28 years. This is called draw down chart.

But here is something that will shock you:
In the last 28 years, for 94% of the days Nifty was down from its previous peak!

That simply means I will almost, always have to go through the retrospective feeling “If only I had sold earlier..”.

Here is the killer – Along with it the decision on “Will the market go down further?” will also need to be taken on 94% of the days!

Earlier, I had always believed that markets were too volatile and decisions have to be made real time – each and every time the market went down. The decision could be anything – to reduce/exit equities, to buy more, to hold etc.

Now to put that in context, that meant in the last 28 years I would have had to make ~6482 decisions as for 6482 days out of 6893 days the Nifty draw down was negative !

Take a pause and get that number into your head – we are looking at around 7000 decisions over the next 30 years. Phew.

Ok. To take a decision for each and every minor fall is stretching it too far. Let us say, we need to take a decision only when the fall (read as fall from previous peak) is more than 10%.

Any guesses on the no of decisions?

4171 decisions in the last 28 years. That is almost 150 decisions every year!

What if its only for a fall above 20%?

Still we are left with 2734 decisions.

Now you get the gist.

Too many decisions..

The moment we start looking at each and every fall as a decision making point, it becomes extremely stressful as the near term is always uncertain and there is nothing much you can do about the how the markets should behave.

Further, the more the number of decisions we need to take, the higher is the possibility of panicking out of the market.

Deciding when to decide..

Let us check how our new approach of reducing the decision making points to 10%,20%,30%,40%,50% would have fared.

There have 19 instances in the last 28 years where, the bare minimum 10% drawdown trigger has occurred.

Out of 19 occurrences, only 3 times did the 10% drawdown actually get converted into a 50% fall. This means a 50% fall is a very rare event and in the next 30 years going by history we might see only 3-4 of them.

Similarly, only 9 out of 19 times has the 10% drawdown actually become a 20% correction. 

So the takeaway for us is that – a 10% drawdown is too common while a 50% is too rare.

So let us keep our decision making points to 20%,30% and 40% fall.

This implies in the last 28 years, our decision making points during a market fall has been dramatically reduced to 9 periods and just 20 decisions !

So our strategy of “deciding when to decide”  does make sense.

Summing it up..

Hence our “What if things go wrong plan” will have

  • 20% fall
  • 30% fall
  • 40% fall

as our decision making points..

Now we are left with the interesting second part – preloading decisions for these 3 scenarios.

How do we do that?

Hang on for the next part..

If you loved this post, do share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog via Email (1 weekly newsletter) or Twitter along with the 5000+ awesome people. Look out for some fresh, super interesting investment insights delivered straight to your inbox.

If in case you have any feedback or need any help regarding your investments or want me to write about something, feel free to get in touch at rarun86@gmail.com

You can also check out all my other articles here

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments






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A guilty father who shot his own kid, ancient Greek philosophers, US Navy Seals and the art of handling a market fall

In our last week’s post here we had explored how a small almond shaped component in our brain called the amygdala is the main culprit behind why we panic during an equity market fall.


Photo courtesy: http://www.wiredscience.com

But can the amygdala be this powerful?

Hold your breadth.

It made an innocent father kill his own child.

Source: https://classic.esquire.com/article/1995/3/1/the-right-to-bear-sorrow

Startled Father Fatally Shoots His Daughter

It was the November of 1994..

Fourteen-year-old Matilda Kaye Crabtree was hiding in a closet, playing burglar. Her father Bobby Crabtree, who didn’t know she was home, pulled open the door with gun drawn.

“She went, `Boo!’ and that scared him,” said Stacy Redding, who crouched with her friend in the closet, and then watched as Robert Crabtree fatally shot his daughter in the neck.

Kaye’s last words to her father: “I love you, Daddy.”

You know who was the real killer.

As a fear response, Bobby’s amygdala had kicked in and his body reacted way before he could be conscious of what he was doing.

While Bobby was not prosecuted as what had happened was an accident,  you can imagine the pain this father had to live with throughout his life.

The lesson for us is clear – Don’t underestimate the amygdala!

So, what if we removed the amygdala?

But hang on..not so fast

Without amygdala, the guy would never be walking again.

So doing away with the amygdala is again not an option given its ability to save us in a lot of other contexts.

We simply need to learn on how to handle amygdala and manage our fears.

Million dollar question – How do we manage our fears?

The simple yet profound answer – feeling in control.

The most powerful way we can cope with fear or anxiety is to create a feeling of control

Anything that gives us a feeling of control over our situation helps us keep our calm. But when we don’t have a feeling of control we get stressed and start panicking.

Our prefrontal cortex in the brain is where we do all the “thinking”.  As long as we feel in control, we can use it.  When we feel out of control, we lose the ability to think from our prefrontal cortex.

Amy Arnsten studies the effects of limbic system arousal on prefrontal cortex functioning.  She summarized the importance of a sense of control for the brain during an interview filmed at her lab in Yale.

“The loss of prefrontal function (the thinking part of the brain) only occurs when we feel out of control. It’s the prefrontal cortex itself that is determining if we are in control or not. Even if we have the illusion that we are in control, our cognitive functions are preserved.”

This perception of being in control is a major driver of behavior.

Your Brain at Work by David Rock

So how do we bring in a feeling of control?

Let us check other fields which have the same problem and find out how they are solving it. This will give us some valuable clues.

Think of army men, bomb squad members, firemen, emergency ward doctors etc who are trained to make good decisions in extreme high pressure situations.

Let us study the most badass amongst them..

Enter the US Navy Seals..

The US Navy seals have handled threatening missions in the world’s most dangerous spots, whether that meant jumping out of airplanes, taking down hostile ships in the open sea, or rolling prisoners in the dead of night in the mountains of Afghanistan. As a Navy SEAL, they have learned how to manage the natural impulse to panic in the face of terrifying situations.

1.Prepare and Practice

 If you are wondering on how the Navy Seals are so fearless, the simple answer is they – Train, Train, Train!

“We spend 75% of our time preparing for deployment and about 25% on the deployment.” 

“It’s not like you jump out of a plane once and then you remember how to do it forever. It’s something you’ve got to constantly revisit. When you hang out in the mountains of Afghanistan, you don’t exactly get to work on your scuba diving.”

Former SEAL Commander James Walters

The SEALs learn to handle fear by practicing all possible high pressure situations well in advance repeatedly until they feel naturally confident about it—until that unknown becomes, well, a little more known. This provides them with a sense of control and confidence.

In the SEAL teams, this is called contingency planning.

What will we do if we hit a landmine?
What will we do if we take a casualty?
What will we do if the target house looks like it’s been abandoned?

Even NASA followed a similar strategy for their astronauts to make sure that astronauts wouldn’t panic in the early space missions. They ran them through every step of the process until it became boringly familiar. This level of familiarity produced a powerful feeling of control and confidence.

Before the first launch, NASA re-created the fateful day for the astronauts over and over, step by step, hundreds of times — from what they’d have for breakfast to the ride to the airfield. Slowly, in a graded series of “exposures.” the astronauts were introduced to every sight and sound of the experience of their firing into space. They did it so many times that it became as natural and familiar as breathing.

Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Now, if you really think about it – almost everyone be it a surgeon, a fireman, a bomb squad member etc who is required to deal with decision making in high pressure situations inevitably goes through thorough preparation and training.

But when it comes to investing in equities, most of us enter completely oblivious to the power of our amygdala – unprepared and untrained to handle a bear market.

Even experienced investors have gone through their share of tough periods and most of them over years have evolved their ability to handle bear market mostly via trial and error and repeated exposure.

Usually a correction of 40-50% happens every 7-10 years while a 20-30% happens every 3-5 years. This means by the time we get prepared to handle a bear market via actual exposures it is almost 15-20 years. That is too long a training period.

So the question for all of us is –

How in the world do we train for a stock market correction?

While I don’t have the perfect solution yet (and I guess a lot more attention is desperately needed here), here is a good starting point to train for a market fall

  1. Reduce the no of decision making points – pre decide when you will actually make a decision
  2. Prepare a “What if things go wrong” plan – write down what you will do if your portfolio is down 20%,30%,40% and 50% (also think of the various declines in portfolio in Rs terms (vs % terms). A 10% fall, on a 1 lakh portfolio feels a lot different than on a 10 cr portfolio!)
  3. Reduce the frequency of monitoring your portfolio
  4. You can also refer my earlier posts on this topic for a detailed explanation

2. Long Term Goals as a sequence of short term goals

This was one among the most important techniques which the Navy Seals used to increase their passing rates during training.

To maintain a feeling of control, during an extremely stressful situation the Navy SEALs often thought about their friends, family, religious beliefs, and other important things from their lives. The key was to see something positive in the future (in the near future, if possible) that allows the mind to be distracted away from the current stress and uncertainty.

They also broke down their goals into micro goals, short-term goals, mid-term goals, and long-term goals.

Instead of thinking of completing the six month training course as one goal, they broke down the six months into weekly goals, daily goals, hourly goals, and even goals by the minute. 

Short-term micro goals coupled with longer-term goals was their strategy

We can apply the same strategy while investing.

Goal Based Investing is a practical way to implement the above concept where your investments are bucketed according to their purpose (goals) and when you will need a given amount.

The purpose of “why” we are investing is often forgotten during a falling market. It makes sense to remind our self of the original goal for which we are investing (to become financially free, start a new venture, fund kid’s education etc) and the actual planned time frame. This helps to get a holistic picture and distract ourselves from the temporary market fall.

Further, a micro focus on short term things under our control – continuing to invest one month at a time and sticking to our “what if things go wrong” plan after every 10% fall also helps to stick to our long term plan.

3.Stoic Philosophers to the rescue

In ancient Greece and Rome, many prominent thinkers & philosophers subscribed to a philosophy called Stoicism which is primarily about recognizing what you can and cannot control, in order to focus your energy exclusively on what you can actually control.

Source: https://dailystoic.com/premeditatio-malorum/

The ancient Stoic philosophers which includes the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus regularly conducted a strange exercise known as a Premeditatio Malorum, which translates to a “Premeditation of Evils.”

Now before you get scared, “Premeditation of evils” was simply a practice of taking a moment to think through everything that could go wrong with a particular plan and prepare for it.

This may sound extremely pessimistic and counter intuitive, but the Stoics believed that by imagining the worst case scenario ahead of time, they could overcome their fears of negative experiences, make better plans to prevent them and lessen the impact of the negative outcome if it ever translates.

While most people were focused on how they could achieve success, the Stoics also considered how they would manage failure.

What would things look like if everything went wrong tomorrow?

And what does this tell us about how we should prepare today?

Source: https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/File:Samurai_with_sword.jpg

Even the Japanese Samurai warriors used to think about death a lot. Why? That way they wouldn’t fear it in battle.

One who is supposed to be a warrior considers it his foremost concern to keep death in mind at all times, every day and every night, from the morning of New Year’s Day through the night of New Year’s Eve.

The Code of the Samurai

Really thinking about just how awful things can be often has the ironic effect of making you realize they’re not that bad.

Here is an interesting story which I came across from a presentation by an amazing blogger called Jana Vembunarayanan.

This is what an experienced investor from India recent told me. He has been operating in the markets for 30+ years with a CAGR of 35%. During 2008-2009 his portfolio was down by 80%. Apart from his property he had most of his net worth invested in equities.

How did he sleep well at night?

He had the habit of mentally counting only 20% of his net worth.

This helped him a lot to stomach the drawdown.

https://janav.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/three-bucket-framework-to-investing.pd

This is a great way to think about your existing portfolio.

As equity investors, we will all have to experience a 40-50% drop in our equity portfolios at some point in time. 

What if we, like the ancient stoics mentally wrote off and counted only 50% of our existing equity portfolio.

What would things look like if this happens tomorrow?

What if the market never recovered – will we still be ok?

The answer to this will also decide our equity allocation.

Like the stoics and the experienced investor from India, practicing the habit of mentally writing down a part of the portfolio will help us be a lot more prepared and better positioned to handle the inevitable bear market.

Summing it up

Never underestimate the ability of the Amygdala to overrule your rational brain in times of panic. The key is to acknowledge and work along with it.

Here are few techniques we can learn from the Navy Seals, NASA, the Samurai warriors and the Stoics to handle a market fall without panicking

  • Plan and Pre-load your decisions for a falling market
  • Reduce the no of decision making points – pre decide when you will actually make a decision
  • Prepare a “What if things go wrong” plan – write down what you will do if your portfolio is down 20%,30%,40% and 50%
  • Reduce the frequency of monitoring your portfolio
  • Long Term Goals are a collection of short runs – combine the “why of investing” with the discipline of regularly investing one month at a time and sticking to the “what if things go wrong plan” for every 10% fall
  •  Practice mentally writing down a part of the portfolio

If you loved this post, do share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog via Email (1 weekly newsletter) or Twitter along with the 5000+ awesome people. Look out for some fresh, super interesting investment insights delivered straight to your inbox.

If in case you have any feedback or need any help regarding your investments or want me to write about something, feel free to get in touch at rarun86@gmail.com

You can also check out all my other articles here

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments





If you panic during a market fall, its not your fault. Blame it on..

10 minute read

Let me begin with a simple question:

When you sense danger what is your immediate response?

While you have your answer ready, let us verify from some real life examples..

The immediate response for most of us is to immediately flee from the perceived danger!

But some of us have a slightly different response..

Some decide to confront the threat and take the danger head on instead of fleeing!

So in essence whenever we perceive danger, we have two types of response.

  • Confront the threat and deal with it, or
  • Get as far away from the threat as quickly as possible

Psychologists call this the “Fight or Flight” response.

It was first described in 1915 by American physiologist Walter Cannon.

walter-bradford-cannon-ab4507f0-5dff-4add-824f-28817fe46e7-resize-750.gif

Cannon’s insight was that both humans and animals, meet a sudden threat with the same biological response – a state of impulsive nervous excitement which mobilizes the body’s resources and prepares them to either run away or fight.

But hang on. There is one more response to threat that we are all familiar with.

Do you remember the first time you had to give your speech in front of a large audience?

What happened?

Most of us froze!

Most of the school shoot out out survivors also had the same initial response.

“At first, everyone just froze, trying to understand what was happening. It took a little bit for us to realize this was a shooting” – A Virginia Tech school shoot out survivor

In fact, even the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger has used this “freeze” response when faced with danger!

Thus that adds a third response and our equation becomes :

Response to danger = FREEZE or FLIGHT or FIGHT

Now if you noticed, all the responses to the perceived danger happened lightning fast within a fraction of a second.

This leaves us with an interesting question:

How did people literally in the blink of an eye swing from a casual state to one of outright terror with adrenaline pumped into every muscle of the body?

Is there more to it than what meets the eye. Let us explore further.

A few million years back..

For answering these questions, I will have to take you back by a few million years to our stone age ancestors.

The stone age version of you unfortunately doesn’t have the comfort of Swiggy. So you have no other choice but to go out and hunt for food every day.

As you go out into the forest in search of food, suddenly you hear a mild ruffle of leaves amongst the trees a few hundred meters in front of you.

Your first reaction – You freeze.

You stop moving for the fear of attracting the attention of the unknown predator.

In a few seconds you can hear the sound of something coming towards you. In the next instant, you are running for your life and scrambling up the nearest tree.

As you watch from the top, you heave a sigh of relief. Its a harmless deer.

Welcome to the life of your ancestor – freeze, flight or fight were their day to day survival mechanism.

But hey, it was just a harmless dear. Don’t you think you overreacted. You should have just waited for a few more seconds and then decided.

Here is the problem.

If it had been a tiger instead, the few extra seconds you took to decide on whether to run or not would have meant – a nice lunch for the tiger.

The downside of mistaking a deer to be a tiger, is still minimal (just some energy wasted climbing up the tree) compared to the possibility of losing your life.

In a world filled with too many threats everyday, “React first – Ask questions later” was the modus operandi.

But there was one man who was unsatisfied with these explanations. He needed to know more, on exactly what was happening inside the brain during these moments.

Meet the American neuroscientist Mr Joseph E. LeDoux

LeDoux_Joseph_web1.jpg

In his endeavor, he faced a fundamental problem. Human brain is extremely complicated. So to conduct experiments directly on the brain was extremely risky. So neuroscientists mostly had to wait for people with some new form of brain damage to study the functionality of different parts of the brain. But waiting each and every time for someone with a brain damage was too time consuming.

Impatient Joseph E. LeDoux came up with a proxy to humans – the lab rat!

Image result for lab mice

Now he had another problem – how will he create the emotion of fear inside the brain of the rat?

Thanks to Pavlov’s experiments, he constructed a similar one. Put a rat in a cage, play a tone, and simultaneously deliver a shock to the animal’s feet through the floor of the cage .

Image1.gif

After a few rounds of tone and shock, the rat started to fear the tone even if was not accompanied by the shock. The fear reaction was noticeable because the rat suddenly froze in fear.

Now the next logical step was to find out which area of the brain was involved each and every time the tone was played and fear invoked. For this he used a system, which anyone used to repairing their old desktop computers would be familiar with.

He surgically eliminated different parts of the rat’s brain one by one and tested the rat’s reaction (remember these were the days before advanced imaging technology). The logic was that if you remove a region and the rat can still learn to associate the tone with the shock, then the region you’ve removed isn’t relevant to fear response. But if the rat stops learning, you know you’ve got something relevant.

This is when he found something mind boggling.

The earlier understanding was that the sound enters via the rat’s auditory thalamus (think of it as a recorder) and is sent to the auditory cortex (read as the portion of the brain which converts whatever we listen into conscious awareness).

As expected when he removed the rat’s auditory thalamus, the rat could sense no fear as it became deaf and couldn’t hear the tone.

But here comes the shocker.

Next he removed the auditory cortex which meant that technically the rat shouldn’t be able to hear anything as the cortex was the one which actually transforms external sound information into the conscious experience of sound.

But shockingly the rats froze when he played the tone.

If the rats were not consciously aware of the tone, and yet were getting afraid, it meant there was an alternate unknown route. The sound was traveling from the auditory thalamus to a mysterious region in the subconscious mind which could still hear the sound.

What was that mystery region?

In true James bond style, he injected a particular chemical called tracer dye into the rat’s brain and traced out the regions where the audio signals were being sent from the auditory thalamus.

It turned out that the signals were indeed being sent to another region

That mystery region was called the AMYGDALA!

amygdala-banner.jpg

Amygdala is an almond shaped region found at both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Taken together, these two regions form the “fear headquarters” of the brain.

The amygdala works as a threat surveillance system and is constantly working each and every second of the day, irrespective of whether you are awake or asleep. It monitors all the sensory information around you constantly searching for potential threats.

The amygdala is alert, vigilant, paranoid and has an itchy trigger finger

The moment it detects a threat, it sends the alarm signal, setting off a flight, fight or freeze reaction within milliseconds. Its so quick that the fear reaction is fired up much ahead of when the conscious part of the brain registers the actual threat and tries to interpret it.

Thus we all react emotionally much before we actually have a clue on what is going on.

This is extremely important and let us spend some more time on why this happens..

Actually, each and every time, there is a threat, the experience of danger follows two pathways in the brain:

  1. Conscious and rational (referred to as high road)
  2. Unconscious and innate (low road)

high-low-road.jpg

It might take a few seconds to establish the presence of the threat and formulate a response via the high road, but the low road kicks the body into a freezing response within a fraction of a second.

The low road immediately pushes the body into the flight, fight, freeze response. In fact, it knows the response so well that it is nearly impossible to keep it from happening.

So the key thing to note is that, whenever our amygdala detects a threat, more often than not it overrides the rational thinking brain given its raw speed and instant push to action.

Now as a survival mechanism, in a world filled with too many threats this made perfect sense. But in today’s world which is far more safer, the amygdala might get triggered for the wrong reasons leading us to take unwarranted actions.

Now if you are wondering what does this have to do with investing.

Hold your breath.

Financial losses are processed in the same amygdala!

The amygdala has mistaken the threat from a financial loss to be equivalent to a tiger running at you.

This means much before your conscious brain can really interpret the losses, your amygdala has already set the trigger on – and mostly we take the freeze or flight response.

In an app led investing world, where it just takes less than 30 seconds to sell all your holdings, amygdala is on steroids!

Now you know the answer as to why its extremely difficult to stay sane during a bear market. As your amygdala gets triggered due to successive falls day in and day out, you eventually give in.

So the key takeaway for us is simple:

While our intentions maybe not to panic during a market crash, our brains are designed in such a way that most of us will freeze or sell out during a crash.

The most important thing is not to overestimate the power of our rational brains during these times and to acknowledge that our amygdala will usually override our rational brain.

Now does that mean all is lost.

But wait. There are some people such as army men, bomb diffusers, firemen etc who are trained to make good decisions in extreme high pressure situations.

How do these guys resist the amygdala impulse?

Wait till the next week..

(to be continued)

If you found this useful do follow Eighty Twenty Investor via Email (1 weekly newsletter) or Twitter

You can also check out all my other articles here
Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments

3 ways to make sure this stock market correction is not wasted?

The stock market is falling! What do I do?

life-3089646_960_720.jpg

The answer to this question can never be a precise one.

As we gain experience in the equity markets, the approach to handling market falls will slowly evolve for each one of us.

Now while I don’t claim have a perfect solution, here are few strategies which I believe can help us handle market falls in a much more sane manner.

1.When it comes to decisions, less is more

All of us know that, decision making is extremely tough during a market fall.

While the “What & How” part of the decision making has finally found some audience, unfortunately the equally important issue of when to make decisions is completely ignored.

pocket-watch-3156771_960_720.jpg

Given the reach of internet and mobiles, each and every day, every hour, every minute there is always some market related event, news or opinion out there. Add to the mix, that inevitable someone who is hell bent on scaring you with some conveniently handpicked data (sample this).

So, as the market fall continues, most of us get into the trap of constantly evaluating our portfolios and trying to make decisions on an as-and-when basis as new events/news/opinions keep bombarding us.

Each and every time the market falls, the honest truth is that we really have no clue if the fall will continue or the markets will bounce back. There are hundreds of variables determining the short run and it is impossible to predict how each and every one of them will interact together to determine the direction of markets.

So the key is not to look at each and every event/news/opinion as a reminder to take a decision!

In fact, the last thing we want to do, is to go unprepared into a falling market trying to take daily decisions based on the evolving events.

When it comes to decision making, less is more and hence we need to reduce the number of decisions to be taken. Most importantly we need to have a clear pre-decided plan on WHEN to take these decisions.

I personally use a 10% decision making trigger and have reduced my decision making points to less than five during a fall.

boxes-2624231_960_720.jpg

  • Market falls by 10%?
  • Market falls by 20%?
  • Market falls  by 30%?
  • Market falls by 40%?
  • Market falls by 50%?

You can either use a common benchmark such as Sensex/Nifty or your own portfolio value for reference.

For eg, if you are using Sensex as reference, the maximum value was 38,645 (on 31-Aug-18)

So decisions will be taken at

  1. 10% fall ~ Sensex@35,000
  2. 20% fall ~ Sensex@31,000
  3. 30% fall ~ Sensex@27,000
  4. 40% fall ~ Sensex@23,000
  5. 50% fall ~ Sensex@19,500

In this way, I don’t need to look at the TV each and everyday trying to decide on what to do with my investments.

2.Pre-load your decisions with a what-if-market-falls plan

When we are calm and relaxed, we turn out to be extremely bad in imagining how we will act during times of emotional strain (think fear, anger, hunger, exhaustion, thirst etc).

Such an under-appreciation of how we behave during times of emotional strain is where the trouble actually starts.

How do you think you will behave if the market cracks by say 20%?

“I will of course buy more!” thinks the overconfident self.

But remember, this is you in your “cool & calm” avatar!

Your “emotionally charged” avatar might have different plans.. and if you are like the rest of us it will panic and freeze!

For more on this you can read my earlier post here

How do we solve for this?

We have an unusual person providing us the solution – Our friendly Starbucks Barista!

980x.jpg

In 2007, when Starbucks was going through a massive expansion, the company was opening almost 7 new stores every day and hiring as many as 1500 employees each week.

But this came with its own issues. The biggest amongst them was to train all the new employees to provide excellent customer service.

Unfortunately for most of the employees Starbucks was their first job and they had never dealt with an angry customer before. While they obviously wanted to a good job, however as soon as they started facing angry customers, a lot of them panicked, some lost their cool and few even snapped back at the customer.

Drawing on behavioral science, Starbucks came up with a simple solution – the “if-then” strategy. They added an extra page at the end of every employee handbook which had lines like, “If a customer yells at me then I will ______”. 

The employee would then write in advance what their response would be to this and other tough situations. It allowed employees to plan their response with a cool mindset, so they didn’t need to decide under pressure and risk losing their self control.

They also provided the employees with a simple decision making framework to apply:

The Starbucks LATTE System for Customer Service

  1. Listen to the Customer
  2. Acknowledge their complaint
  3. Take action by solving the problem
  4. Thank them
  5. Explain why the problem occurred

Now, instead of reacting with anger or panic, Starbucks employees had a clear game plan to deal with stressful situations.

Since the If-Then and the LATTE system was implemented, employee turnover had decreased, customer satisfaction was up and profits increased!

In essence, we also face a similar problem in a bear market as we go into one completely unprepared without a plan and overestimating our ability to handle the stress and panic.

So, let us apply the Starbucks technique to investing with our own “If-Then” plan.

  1. If market falls by 10% then I will..
  2. If market falls by 20% then I will..
  3. If market falls by 30% then I will..
  4. If market falls by 40% then I will..
  5. If market falls by 50% then I will..

Sounds extremely simple, but trust me, once you start thinking about this, you realize how difficult it is to decide even in normal times.

If you have an advisor this is probably a great time to sit together and chart out a plan. If you don’t have one, then make sure you write down your plan as it’s extremely difficult to think clearly in the middle of a falling market.

Also it serves as a reference to check how you thought you would behave during a fall (in your cool and calm avatar) vs how you actually behaved.

You can also check these two posts here (from the super-smart Morgan Housel) and here for getting a rough idea on how to build this plan.

3.Identify and keep a track of experienced investors

As humans we have a natural tendency to follow and conform with the crowd. You can read more about this here

Unfortunately, this tendency of social conformity is at its highest especially in situations of uncertainty.

So in uncertain periods like a falling market, the easiest and fairly intuitive option is to look around and follow the crowd.

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And unfortunately, as history has shown, the crowd usually panics at exactly the wrong time.

Now while the obvious solution is not to follow the crowd, it is far easier said than done. So instead of fighting this urge, we need to play along this urge.

I would suggest finding a group of experienced investors or fellow investors to discuss during times of panic. If this sounds difficult, you can take advantage of the internet and identify your “investors to track” list and follow them closely for their views and interviews.

Here are some people whom I personally track:

  1. Sankaran Naren – ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund
  2. Kenneth Andrade – Oldbridge Capital
  3. Rajeev Thakkar – Parag Parikh Mutual Fund
  4. Shyam Sekar – Ithought
  5. Kalpen Parekh – DSP Investment Managers
  6. Neelkanth Mishra – Credit Suisse

Now, by no way am I suggesting that we should blindly follow them. The idea is to carefully evaluate their views (given their experience and maturity) and take our own decisions.

Do let me know on what other strategies you use to stay sane during a market fall.

As always, happy investing!

You can follow Eighty Twenty Investor via Email (1 weekly newsletter) or Twitter

If you loved what you just read, you can check out all my other articles here

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments

What no one told you about the mind blowing mid and small cap returns

Lately, I have been receiving a lot of mails on whether this is the right time to invest in mid and small caps.

The reason why some of you think I might be able to predict is because of this earlier warning that I had given during January in my post –

Seat Belts, Condoms and the Indian Equity Investor

Now to be honest, I had no freaking clue that such a sharp mid and small cap fall was coming post that. If you read that article, I had just indicated that people were forgetting the risk part and focusing only on the returns which is not a great place to be. Inevitably when people forget risk and become aggressive something always goes wrong. The timing was luckily correct but that has nothing to do with my ability to forecast.

If the crash had come say 2 years later (which was of course possible) I would have looked really dumb. The tough part of risk is that you can only approximately and qualitatively evaluate the extent of risk but cannot exactly time the trigger which will cause it to play out.

So now that you know my capabilities to predict and that I was just plain lucky, let us delve into some interesting but often ignored aspects of the mid and small returns of the past 5 years.

Why is everyone interested in only Mid and Small Caps?

Have a look at the below table which indicates the past 5 year returns in Mid and Small cap funds

5Y returns.png

Source: Value Research

Now we are like..

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Wow! That’s 25% returns every year for the last 5 years!

My bloody FD gives me 7-8% and that too the government puts a tax and takes a portion away!

It’s time for equities and let me jump into mid and small caps!

Hang on..Pause and take a deep breath

Let us revisit our mind voice again

Wow! That’s 25% returns every year for the last 5 years!

This conclusion from our impatient mind is the single most important reason why most of us end up having a bad experience in equities.

The real question to ask:

Is it really 25% every year?

Let us explore..

Mid Cap Fund Returns.png

Just take a minute to go through the returns of each and every year which led to the 24-27% returns in mid and small cap funds.

Do you see the catch?

The mind blowing returns of mid and small cap returns were primarily driven by the returns in 2014 where they had outperformed every other category by a huge margin.

To put that in perspective, a return of 73% and 87% in single year contributes ~20% to 23% CAGR for all 3 year periods which include 2014. Similarly, the single year return contributes 12-13% CAGR for all 5 year periods which include 2014!

Now to make things clear, let us see what happened if you missed out on 2014 and started to invest only from 2015.

Mid Cap Fund Returns -1.png

Oops! What happened to the mind blowing out performance?

The returns of mid and small cap category is almost in line with large and mid, multi cap and large cap category!

So the key here is that, to really have experienced the 25% returns on which you are being sold, you must have invested in 2013.

Back to 2013..

Let us rewind back to 2013,

Mid Cap Fund Returns in 2013.png

At the index level, mid and small cap segment had been hammered.

The newspapers scared the shit out of you.

Scary Headlines.png

The past mid and small cap fund returns while not as bad as the index, weren’t great either (an FD would have given better returns – your mind voice would have argued).

2013 mid cap fund returnss.png

Now do you seriously think you would have invested in mid and small cap segment just before the 2014 rise.

As expected, all of us were running out of equities leave alone mid and small caps in 2012-13 which in retrospect seems to be the best year to invest.

Past performance always needs to be put under context

This is the reality of equity investing.

The actual mid and small cap out performance came when everyone had given up and the past returns were pathetic.

Misled by the poor past returns, unfortunately most of us didn’t invest in mid and small caps when it really mattered.

This holds an important lesson for us as investors:

No investment style or approach will outperform at all points in time. The sooner we accept this, the better our investment experience would be.

Based on the changing market conditions, various investment styles usually find favor at different points in time.

Mid and small caps after several years of dismal performance had finally found favor in 2014 as the market conditions favored that particular style.

But as we all know, market conditions inevitably change and some other different style or approach will find favor. Last year was an example for this as mid and small caps have corrected while the large caps did well.

Thus, to predict the future winners, the real ask is to identify the future market conditions and not the past market conditions which led to the current winners.

Unfortunately, the future market condition has several possibilities (what ifs) and no one knows, which of the market conditions will really play out, when it will play out and how long it will play out.

Let us take the example of mid and small cap segment.

In 2014, the returns were primarily driven by valuation multiples expanding as BJP won the elections and there were huge expectations of reforms.

In 2017, the returns were again primarily driven by valuation multiples expanding as demonetization led to money moving away from real estate and gold to equities.

Now honestly it is not possible to have predicted both these events.

So what do we do?

Now while we cannot predict the future market conditions, not everything is lost.

Instead of trying to predict the future market conditions, we can evaluate for signs of where we are in the cycle (partly art, partly science) and take a call on when to increase our exposure to mid and small caps.

Usually bad past returns, scary headlines, weak earnings growth over the past few years, no investor interest and attractive valuations are a good starting point to evaluate a particular investment style. The vice versa case holds good as well!

The mid and small cap category ticked all of the above in 2013 –

  1. Valuations were very attractive
  2. Earnings growth was yet to play out
  3. Headlines were scary
  4. Investor interest was zilch
  5. Past returns were bad

We were somewhere close to the bottom of the mid cap cycle and this was the time to be aggressive.

A lot of fund managers such as Kenneth Andrade , Sankaran Naren, Krishnakumar etc were able to identify this cycle.

In fact in the mid of 2013 at my organization we had asked our clients to invest in mid and small caps and had invested in a lot of the closed ended series which came at that point in time.

We knew the “Why” but not the “When”.

We were lucky that the call immediately played out and looked like we were extremely smart. But who knows, in an alternate version of history BJP may have not won the election and the mid cap rally could have been delayed. The trigger might have been something completely different. But since we had the odds in our favor we just had to patiently wait for a positive trigger to strike.

However post that we started reducing our allocation starting mid of 2015 as valuations were becoming unattractive (at least according to us). Unfortunately it took 3 years for our call to play out. And we looked extremely dumb till 9 months back.

This is the tough part of investing.

In the short run, there are hundreds of parameters which impact the markets and decide the investment environment. However in the long run, eventually it boils down to valuations and earnings growth.

Summing it up

So the whole idea is to keep this in mind and..

  • Diversify across various styles – large, mid and small + value/growth/quality + international/domestic etc. Across shorter time frames inevitably there will be few styles which will find favor and will keep alternating. In the long run, the returns across proven investment styles will mostly work out to be close to each other and will provide you with a comfortable journey.
  • Do not take exposure to various investment styles or approaches purely based on high past returns
  • Keep looking out for risk (read as pockets of overvaluation) and start reducing exposure
  • Valuations, earnings growth expectation, investor sentiments, flows can be used to calibrate the proportion of investments to these various investment styles or approaches

As for what to do with mid and small caps, that’s a topic for another day.

Happy investing!

If you loved what you just read, you can check out all my other articles here

Also do share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog along with the 5000+ awesome people. Look out for some fresh, super interesting investment insights delivered straight to your inbox.
If in case you have any feedback or need any help regarding your investments or want me to write about something, feel free to get in touch at rarun86@gmail.com
Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments.

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A shocking rape, alternate histories and equity investing

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Recently, I met an old school friend of mine after ages. Amidst the good old banter and evergreen memories, he spoke about his past stint at Taxi For Sure and the stressful period he had to undergo during the last few months before the company finally got sold.

Curious to know more about this, I came back home and started reading about why Taxi-For-Sure had to close. That is when I chanced upon an interesting narrative on what really happened.

The Taxi-For-Sure Saga

Cabs in Bangalore India.jpg

This is the article (link) and I recommend you to read this as it holds a lot of interesting lessons for us as investors.

“This is the story of how, in just two months, Taxi for Sure went from a prospective good second bet in the taxi aggregator business in India, almost on the verge of raising $200 million, to a company that no venture capitalist would touch.”

For those who don’t have the time to go through the entire article, here is a quick gist of what happened..

Taxi for sure, a cab aggregator similar to Uber and Ola, given the first mover advantage had a strong run for almost four years till 2015, facilitating around five million cab rides. It also prided itself on “being used to beating Ola with less money“.

At that juncture, it clearly looked like Taxi For Sure was a good second bet in the taxi aggregator business in India.

But its competitor Ola, had other plans.

In an aggressive move to take market share, Ola slashed the fares for its cab rides and made it more cheaper than an auto rickshaw. Further, they also increased the driver incentives.

It’s logic was simple. The company had raised Rs.250 crore in a round of funding in July 2014 and was burning money to get more customers and drivers on its platform.

Taxi For Sure, was watching from the sidelines as Ola was losing almost Rs 200 every ride and hence thought this wouldn’t be sustainable.  This was impacting them, as both the drivers and the customers given the better financial incentives were moving towards Ola. However, Taxi For Sure expected this to be a temporary tactic from Ola.

But they were in for a rude shock, when on 28 October, Ola raised $210 million (about Rs.1,281 crore) from SoftBank and its other existing investors. In the start-up world, whenever there is a large difference between two firms, raising capital becomes very difficult for the laggard.

On 1 November, Taxi For Sure decided to take the plunge and responded with similar price cuts for customers and better incentives for drivers!

The strategy worked brilliantly and they saw a 3-4x surge in transactions immediately. However there was a catch. They were making losses of Rs.36 lakh every day. This meant they were also running short of funds and they needed to go in for the next round of funding.

They immediately started exploring the market to raise funds—around $200 million.

Things  looked  great as all the concerns on the size and scale of the Indian taxi aggregation business were put to rest, thanks to the validation via the $210 million investment in Ola by SoftBank.

The company saw interest from more than 20 investors in the US. All the due diligence was done and only two steps remained; a partnership meeting with the firm, where the entrepreneur makes a presentation to the firm’s senior team, and the final nod for investment.

So it was more or less given that they would raise the $200 mn funding.

The Blackswan Event

On 6 December night (saturday), the co-founderRaghu boarded a flight from Bengaluru to San Francisco. He had lined up almost 20+ meetings with VCs and hedge funds the following week and was pretty confident on raising the $200 mn funding

But little did he know that a black swan event on the same day would end the journey of Taxi For Sure once and for all.

Late in the evening, at about 11pm on 6 December, news broke that a Uber cab driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav had raped a 26-year-old woman passenger in Delhi.

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All hell broke loose, people were angry and there were widespread rumours that all taxi aggregator firms would be banned in Delhi. Other states, too, such as Karnataka and Maharashtra, were considering a ban.

 uber_HMDX.jpg

Over the next week, in an unexpected twist all the VCs backed out as they were all concerned about the possibility of a regulatory ban.

A single incident had changed the entire future of the company.

Not able to raise funds, eventually they sold out to their competitor Ola.

Thus ended the story of oversized ambition, a black swan event, a govt’s knee-jerk reaction, cash burn and over-reliance on venture capital funds.

ola

Alternate Histories – We only witness one version of what could have happened!

Now if you really think about it, what happened to Taxi-For-Sure was just one version of several outcomes that could have actually happened.

What if that fateful rape incident didn’t happen?

What if Ola also hadn’t raised the money a few months back?

What if the government didn’t take a knee jerk decision to ban the cab aggregators?

What if some investor had still funded them?

The possibilities and “what-ifs” are many.

But now in retrospect, we only see one version of history – the version where Taxi For Sure was bought out by Ola.

This is exactly what the prolific writer Nassim Taleb refers to as alternate histories.

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Let us hear it in his own words..

One can illustrate the strange concept of alternative histories as follows. Imagine an eccentric (and bored) tycoon offering you $10 million to play Russian roulette, i.e., to put a revolver containing one bullet in the six available chambers to your head and pull the trigger. Each realization would count as one history, for a total of six possible histories of equal probabilities. Five out of these six histories would lead to enrichment; one would lead to a statistic, that is, an obituary with an embarrassing (but certainly original) cause of death.

What does it have to do with us?

In fact a lot.

While I have tried giving evidence for why performance chasing doesn’t work here and here, it is time to understand the intuitive logic behind why past performance fails as an  indicator in investing unlike most other areas in life.

The unfortunate truth in investing is that no investment style or approach will outperform at all points in time.

This is because based on the changing market conditions, various investment styles find favor at different points in time.

So, whenever a fund is outperforming it simply means that the investment style or approach has found favor in the current market conditions.

Past performance can be a good indicator only in the case where the past market conditions remain unchanged and continue to the future. But as we all know, market conditions inevitably change and some other different style or approach will find favor. A new set of funds belonging to that particular approach will become the new group of outperformers.

Thus, to predict the future winners, the real ask is to identify the future market conditions and not the past market conditions which led to the current winners.

Unfortunately, the future market condition has several possibilities (what ifs) like our Taxi-for-sure story and no one knows, which of the market conditions will really play out and when it will play out.

Eventually one of the several market conditions will play out and a particular investment approach will find favor. In retrospect the past will always look like a single clear cut outcome which could have been easily predicted.

The current winners will be chased yet again only for us to be disappointed when market conditions inevitably change.

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So, in essence there is no investment approach that is consistently capable of outperformance and also there is no investor or fund manager who has managed to switch successfully from one style to another, and always remained invested in a style that was in favour at the moment.

Oops! So what the heck do we do?

  1. Identify fund managers with a clearly communicated – logical, evidence based investing approach which has worked well over the long run
  2. The key reason why I emphasize on understanding the investment approach and style is because otherwise it is impossible to stick on to the fund in periods where the style is out of favor and we will perennially be in the “chase the best performing fund” trap
  3. Diversify across various investment approaches or styles
    • Market cap (large, mid, small)
    • Style – Value/Quality/Growth
    • Domestic/Global

Summing it up..

Any logical and evidence based investment style would pay off over a period of time, but no investment style, however sound it is, will continuously give better returns.

And as Dan Kahneman says,

What you should learn when you make a mistake because you did not anticipate something is that the world is difficult to anticipate. That’s the correct lesson to learn from surprises: that the world is surprising.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

If you loved what you just read, you can check out all my other articles here

Cheers and happy investing!

Also do share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog along with the 5000+ awesome people. Look out for some fresh, super interesting investment insights delivered straight to your inbox.


If in case you have any feedback or need any help regarding your investments or want me to write about something, feel free to get in touch at rarun86@gmail.com
Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments.

Here’s how I finally set up my investment portfolio for the next ten years!

In the last few weeks, I had discussed about a simple yet intuitive way to pick equity mutual funds. In case you are new to this blog you can check the entire series here:

  1. Selecting an equity mutual fund is a pain in the neck. Find out why?
  2. What if Steve Jobs was an Indian Equity Investor
  3. How do we experience good performance?
  4. How to select equity mutual funds the eighty twenty investor way – Part 1
  5. How to select equity mutual funds the eighty twenty investor way – Part 2
  6. How to select equity mutual funds the eighty twenty investor way – Part 3

Now obviously all this is just theory if I don’t walk the talk.

So I have decided to invest my own money in two of the funds chosen, each and every month for the next 10 years.

Yes, you heard it right next 10 long years (Phew! It sounds equally intimidating and scary to me as well). Hopefully we can pull it off together 🙂

While all six fund managers are good, I wanted to keep my portfolio simple and so will stick to just two funds (good enough for providing adequate diversification).

I have chosen both the fund managers from the value basket (personal bias)

  1. Sankaren Naren – ICICI Prudential Large and Mid Cap Fund
  2. Rajeev Thakkar – Parag Parikh Long Term Equity Fund

You are free to pick any two and don’t bother too much on my choice.

The game plan is simple.

I will be investing Rs 30,000 every month in these two funds (15K each) for the next 10 years. Hopefully every year as my salary increases I will also be increasing my SIP amount by approximately 5-10%.

Eighty Twenty Investor Arun.png

I will be reviewing my portfolio once every 6 months and the link to the review will be updated in this page.

Live Portfolio Updates

1.Discipline and Behavior check

I personally believe this will be the biggest determinant for the success of this plan.

Current Plan of action – 15,000 in ICICI Prudential Large & Mid Cap + 15,000 in Parag Parikh Long Term Equity Fund on the 5th of each and every month

  1. Aug-18 Done – 30K invested
  2. Sep-18 Done – 30K invested
  3. Oct-18 Done – 30K invested
  4. Nov-18 Done – 30K invested
  5. Dec-18 Done – 30K invested
  6. Jan-19
  7. Feb-19

2.Decision Journal

All decisions will be documented here every 6 months (so that we can evolve our process based on feedback)

  • Aug-18 – Rationale for picking the two funds – Link

3.Current Portfolio (started from 05-Aug-2018)

As on 06-Dec-18

As on 17-Nov-2018

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As on 17-Oct-2018

screenshot_20181017-170757.jpg

As on 17-Sep-2018

Screenshot_20180917-204356

FAQs

1.What will determine the success of this whole plan?

Now while this question is better answered ten years down the line, this is what I believe will be the most important contributors to the success of my investment plan.

Investment Preference.png

  1. Faith in Equities:
    • Investing in Equities for the long run is basically a bet on human progress
    • You are simply betting that entrepreneurs (who take higher risks) on an aggregate will get compensated with higher returns
  2. Discipline to invest regularly:
    • Ability to save and invest regularly through good and bad times holds the key
  3. Patience to hang on through tough times:
    • Market corrections are not a bug but a feature – and it is next to impossible to predict when the next one is coming, how steep the decline would be and how long it will last
    • It is prudent to assume that our equity portfolios will go through a 30-50% decline at-least once in every decade
    • 10-20% corrections should be expected to be a regular affair
    • It is ok to realise that you wont be able to predict the fall and in fact you don’t need to predict the fall to create long term returns
    • The way you behaviorally respond to a fall (which is completely under your control) is all that matters for your long term returns
  4. Choice of funds
    • The idea is to pick funds managed by experienced fund managers with a
      • Consistent and well communicated investment process/style
      • Long term track record across market cycles (i.e periods covering up and down markets)
      • Well diversified across large, mid and small companies

The real deal breaker in this whole endeavor is not the choice of funds..

Instead its actually our ability to stay disciplined (invest every month) and stay patient through bad times (which is inevitable at some point in time).

And here is the best part..

Both these are completely in our control!

2.Is an SIP completely risk free?

How I wish!

Unfortunately SIP while it has a tremendous behavioral advantage, there are also certain risks that you must be aware of. You can read about it in detail here

3. Why do I not follow an asset allocation plan?

This is one of the common mistakes which most of us do. When you are in your 20s or 30s you forget the fact that you have a long investment time horizon & large human capital (i.e the amount of money you are yet to earn using skills, knowledge and experience, over the course of your career). This essentially means your current savings is a paltry amount compared to the expected corpus 15-20 years down the line.

I am in my early 30s and the amount that I am saving right now is a minuscule component if I take my entire future savings over the next 10-20 years in context. So to take advantage of this long investment time frame and human capital, I am going for a equity heavy portfolio as I have my short term requirements sorted through safer avenues such as fixed income funds etc

You can read more about this here

But if you have a large portfolio, then you will have to follow an asset allocation plan as wealth preservation takes a higher priority over wealth creation.

Just remember, if you are young – your ability to save is more important than picking the best fund!

3.Why do I do this?

Most of you must be going through the same problems as I am – difficulty to save, extremely complicated investment world and the problem of getting scared out of equities during a market fall.

The hope – is that you and me together will be able to solve this.

This journey which will be available in the public domain, will attempt to give you an idea of how living through an actual SIP portfolio looks like. Together, if we are able to stay invested without panicking through a bear market (which will inevitably happen sometime in the future) and invest regularly, then the long term results would be awesome and we could have our investment journey sorted!

I have always believed that investing needs to be simple and if we just got our behavior in place, all of us can have amazing results. This is my humble attempt to prove it.

Someday I hope of making you financially free and playing a small part in helping you follow your dreams.

I know its a tall ask. But nevertheless..

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Overall, if things work, then this page will be a inspiration for many people to start investing and appreciate the journey of what it really takes to be a long term investor.

If in case the whole concept is a failure, you can rip my case off via the comments explaining what a stupid jackass I was. For me while that would mean I would go down as a dumb guy, the best part is since every decision is documented I can always go back and analyze as to what actually went wrong and based on the actual evidence, you can avoid all my blunders.

Either way, its a win-win for you!

4.Any hidden agenda?

I am a nice guy and want to genuinely help you out. Err..Partly true.

But let me be brutally honest. I have a selfish motive as well.

Here goes my story..

Most of our parents were phenomenal savers (mine were for sure!). If you really look at why this happened, most of them took a huge loan and invested in a home early in their life. And this meant each and every month for the major part of their working years, they had to forcefully save and pay for the EMI. All their expenses were post their EMI.

Unfortunately I am not too keen on buying a real estate despite my mom trying day in and out to convince me.

The result – I am a terrible saver and a super spend thrift!

Since I have no loans, I end up spending a lot (especially impulse purchases). Adding to the pain, the Facebooks, Instagrams, Amazons, Flipkarts, Swiggys, Zomatos, Netflixes, Ubers etc of the world are making my savings habit almost next to impossible.

So unless and until I force myself to save I won’t be able to do it. The moment I have given a public commitment (to save 30k every month), then I suddenly become accountable to all of you and most importantly myself!

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If I don’t save up every month, I will end up looking like a failure – the man who only preached.

So this is my selfish motive – to help myself get the discipline to save each and every month straight for 10 years – come what may!

5.Should you follow this portfolio?

The whole idea is to view this as a reference point and you can evolve your own plan based on this. Always focus on the thought process and my logic behind the plan and don’t blindly go by my choice.

Personally, I believe in this plan and hence I am investing my own money in it. So to trust me or not, I leave it to your own judgement.

6.Will there be tough times?

Marilyn-Monroe.jpg

Obviously. There will be several periods where you will feel you would have been much better off investing in an FD instead. In a bear market, the portfolio returns will be extremely disappointing and I have no magic wand to save you from the pain of seeing temporary losses in your portfolio.

And again, at all points in time there will always be some other fund doing better than the ones I chose. I profess no special ability to spot future winners.

Simply put, this is a plain vanilla investment portfolio which will test our patience and discipline at several points of time. If you are not ready for it, then you need to evaluate safer options with lower return expectations.

7.Will I change the funds?

Yes, I will change the funds if

  • The fund manager changes (because that is the basic premise of our investment)
  • The performance over a cycle under performs the index
  • The size of the fund becomes too big
  • The fund manager does not stick to his communicated mandate and investment style
  • Corporate governance issues
  • Does not communicate in plain English during tough times

8. Should you pick the same funds?

Not at all. You can actually pick any fund based on your conviction. There are several good funds out there. The key is that we need to invest regularly and have the conviction to stay put through bear markets. The big idea is, if we can do it together, the journey of ups and downs become a lot more palatable.

9.Which platform do I use to invest?

As of now I use Kuvera. I find it simple and good enough. The newly launched Paytm Money might also be a decent option.

10.What about asset allocation?

Once my portfolio size grows to lets say 5 times my yearly spending, then I will start implementing an asset allocation strategy.

11.What is my risk profile?

I have my entire savings till date invested in equities (primarily via stocks). All my tax savings is in ELSS. I work for a wealth management firm and hence my career is also equity market dependent. My better half is an amazing entrepreneur and she runs a chain of dessert joints in Chennai called The Brownie Studio (if you drop in sometimes to this part of the country, try us out and do let me know). So in effect both of us are basic believers in the Indian entrepreneurship story and all our investments reflect this.

I am a very high risk taker and hence this SIP portfolio again falls into the pattern. My reason for choosing an SIP is because I am trying to automate my savings behavior.

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If in case you have any other questions, do let me know. I shall try to answer this in the same post.

Until then, happy investing folks!

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Disclaimer: All blog posts are my personal views and do not reflect the views of my organization. I do not provide any investment advisory service via this blog. No content on this blog should be construed to be investment advice. You should consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any actual investment or trading decisions. All information is a point of view, and is for educational and informational use only. The author accepts no liability for any interpretation of articles or comments on this blog being used for actual investments