Tag - asset allocation

January 2017

Resolve to achieve Financial Freedom in your life!!! #Replug

Money and Happiness, Financial Freedom, Financial Planning, Retirement, Child Education

#Replug

Martin Seligman author of ‘Authentic Happiness’ and research psychologist has said that there are three parts to happiness : Pleasures, Engagement and Meaning.

Pleasure is the feel good part, the short term happiness of material possessions in life.
Engagement refers to good life involving work, friends, family and hobbies.
Meaning is using our time and strengths towards a larger purpose.
He reckons, that Although all the three are important , it is the last two which make a significant difference.

Now a lot of time we spend goes into increasing or earning money. Hence it is worth figuring out where money and hence financial freedom comes into play in our overall happiness. 

Does Higher Income really lead to Happiness though? Is the million dollar question.

When researched , the results are surprising. ?  A study from Princeton University found that a larger paycheck does lead to a happier life—but only to a certain point. ($75,000 per annum to be precise)

What really affects our happiness more than how much we make is our attitude toward money and the way that we handle it. When we hold fast to the belief that money directly determines happiness, life becomes a constant pursuit of accumulating ”more”.  

Would winning a lottery make us the happiest people on earth? Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert says NO.

He goes on to prove that we human beings are very good at adapting but extremely poor in predicting when it comes to our emotions and feelings. We tend to overestimate the duration and intensity of our future emotions.

For eg: A dream home with all modern amenities couple of extra bedrooms, with a beautiful view gives pleasure for a few months. Before the purchase, we tend to think that the possession will provide everlasting happiness and also experience that the happiness will be the ultimate satisfaction. But the same disappears later. At times it can also possibly have a negative effect on happiness at times.

Even when you change jobs or progress in career he has found out across subjects that in approximately 3 months they are back in the same place in terms of happiness. You can extend the examples to Car , let’s say you buy a porche or a BMW , the impact is the same.

This is one of the most important research subject in behavorial finance. Known as Hedonic treadmill. We work hard, earn more, and are indeed able to afford better and nicer things and yet it dosen’t make us any happier. The deeds and things you worked so hard for no longer make you happy; you need to get something even better to boost your level of happiness.” 

Wouldn’t it be better if we knew exactly how happy a new car, career, house or relationship would make us? It is quite possible if we do the following :

Avoid negative things that you cannot get accustomed to such as commuting , noise, chronic stress
Expect only short term happiness from material things such as cars, houses, lottery tickets, prizes, bonuses.
Accept your present
Aim for as much free time and autonomy as possible since long lasting happiness comes from what you actively do
Follow your passions even if you have to forfeit a portion of your income for them
Invest in friendships

Finally, Understand your relationship with Money. Don’t let money control your life . Rather Get a control over Money.

Have clear financial goals, focus on purchasing assets (rather than accumulating liabilities) and make your assets work along with you in order to achieve those goals. Remember, assets is something which puts money in your pockets, where as liabilities is something which takes money out of your pockets. 

This independence day resolve to achieve financially freedom in your life. 

October 2012

What are debt funds ~ Know more about this important asset class

What are debt funds , Yield spread, Interest rate risk, Credit risk, Asset allocation, Mutual funds, How to invest in debt funds, Liquid Funds, FMP, Short term debt, Long term debt, Corporate Bonds

 

Many investors are ignorant of the advantages of investing debt funds investment avenue as an asset class. They prefer to keep funds in FD’s and other traditional debt instruments like PPF/KVP’s/NSC/Post Office etc ~ primarily due to lack of knowledge.

This post will throw some light on the different kinds of debt funds and how they work.

Investment in a debt security,  entails a return in the form of interest (at a pre-specified frequency for a pre- specified period), and refund of a pre-specified amount at the end of the pre-specified period.

The pre-specified period is also called tenor. At the end of the tenor, the securities are said to mature. The process of repaying the amounts due on maturity is called redemption.

Debt securities that are to mature within a year are called money market securities.

The return that an investor earns or is likely to earn on a debt security is called its yield. The yield would be a combination of interest paid by the issuer and capital gain (if the proceeds on redemption are higher than the amount invested) or capital loss (if the proceeds on redemption are lower than the amount invested)

Debt securities may be issued by Central Government, State Governments, Banks, Financial Institutions, Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), Private Companies, Municipalities etc.

  • Securities issued by the Government are called Government Securities or G-Sec or Gilt.
  • Treasury Bills are short term debt instruments issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Government of India.
  • Certificates of Deposit are issued by Banks (for 91 days to 1 year) or Financial Institutions (for 1 to 3 years)
  • Commercial Papers are short term securities (upto 1 year) issued by companies.
  • Bonds / Debentures are generally issued for tenors beyond a year. Governments and public sector companies tend to issue bonds, while private sector companies issue debentures.

    Since the government is unlikely to default on its obligations, Gilts are viewed as safe. The yield on Gilt is generally the lowest in the market. Since non-Government issuers can default, they tend to offer higher yields. The difference between the yield on Gilt and the yield on a non-Government Debt security is called its yield spread.

The possibility of a non-government issuer defaulting on a debt security i.e. its credit risk, is measured by Credit Rating companies like CRISIL, ICRA, CARE and Fitch. They assign different symbols to indicate the credit risk in a debt security. For instance ‘AAA’ is CRISIL’s indicator of highest safety in a debenture. Higher the credit risk, higher is likely to be the yield on the debt security.

The interest rate payable on a debt security may be specified as a fixed rate, say 6%. Alternatively, it may be a floating rate i.e. a rate linked to some other rate that may be prevailing in the market, say the rate that is applicable to Gilt. Interest rates on floating rate securities (also called floaters) are specified as a “Base + Spread”. For example, 5-year G-Sec + 2%. This means that the interest rate that is payable on the debt security would be 2% above whatever is the rate prevailing in the market for Government Securities of 5-year maturity.

The returns in a debt portfolio are largely driven by interest rates and yield spreads.

Interest Rates

Suppose an investor has invested in a debt security that yields a return of 8%. Subsequently, yields in the market for similar securities rise to 9%. It stands to reason that the security, which was bought at 8% yield, is no longer such an attractive investment.

It will therefore lose value. Conversely, if the yields in the market go down, the debt security will gain value. Thus, there is an inverse relationship between yields and value of such debt securities which offer a fixed rate of interest.

A security of longer maturity would fluctuate a lot more, as compared to short tenor securities. Debt analysts work with a related concept called modified duration to assess how much a debt security is likely to fluctuate in response to changes in interest rates.

In a floater, when yields in the market go up, the issuer pays higher interest; lower interest is paid, when yields in the market go down. Since the interest rate itself keeps adjusting in line with the market, these floating rate debt securities tend to hold their value, despite changes in yield in the debt market.

If the portfolio manager expects interest rates to rise, then the portfolio is switched towards a higher proportion of floating rate instruments; or fixed rate instruments of shorter tenor. On the other hand, if the expectation is that interest rates would fall, then the manager increases the exposure to longer term fixed rate debt securities.

The calls that a fund manager takes on likely interest rate scenario are therefore a key determinant of the returns in a debt fund – unlike equity, where the calls on sectors and stocks are important.

Yield Spreads

Suppose an investor has invested in the debt security of a company. Subsequently, its credit rating improves. The market will now be prepared to accept a lower yield spread. Correspondingly, the value of the debt security will increase in the market.

A debt portfolio manager explores opportunities to earn gains by anticipating changes in credit quality, and changes in yield spreads between different market benchmarks in the market place. (~ source:NISM)

Remember that Debt funds are more tax efficient that FD’s. You can read about taxation on Capital Gains on debt Mutual Funds here.

Be aware of this asset class and use it to judiciously optimize your asset allocation towards reaching your financial goals. 

This article – Guide to debt funds & article – Debt funds can prove beneficial from Economic times further articulates the tax advantages & other benefits of investing in debt funds. 

Warren Buffett on Investing in Gold

Warren Buffett Quotes, Gold Investments, Value Investing, Fundamental Analysis, Asset Allocation, Financial Planning

Buffett’s disdain for gold as an investment asset is very well known. Here is a quote from one of the world’s greatest investor on investing in Gold :

Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head. ~ Warren Buffett

May 2010

Investing in Mutual Funds because they are less risky?

Investing in Mutual Funds because they are less risky, Investing in stocks, Risk , Return, Sharpe Ratio, Treynor Ratio, .

Most of the investors begin investing using Mutual funds.

I am surprised when many people come to  me and ask my advise for investing in Mutual Funds rather than equities because they perceive investing in Equity oriented Mutual Funds to be much safer than investing in equities directly. If you think so, Think again!!

This is an incorrect understanding.

Equity oriented Mutual Funds are as good (or as bad) as the investments made by the Mutual Fund Manager, the underlying assets which the fund manager  invests etc.

The risks and returns are linked to the funds holdings (In case of Equity oriented mutual funds, it is the underlying stocks, their performance and the overall performance of the stock markets). The returns and risks are also linked to the the ability of the fund managers performance in trying to time the entry and exit and generating the ‘ALPHA’ returns .  [[  From Investopedia — Alpha is one of five technical risk ratios; the others are beta, standard deviation, R-squared, and the Sharpe ratio. These are all statistical measurements used in modern portfolio theory (MPT). All of these indicators are intended to help investors determine the risk-reward profile of a mutual fund. Simply stated, alpha is often considered to represent the value that a portfolio manager adds to or subtracts from a fund’s return.]]

If the Stock Market tanks or crashes, the mutual funds NAV also comes crashing down.  Near term performance of Mutual Funds is virtually linked to the vagaries of the market movements. Long term performance depends on the fund’s objectives, fund manager’s performance etc.

So, please understand that if you wish to invest in mutual funds….. go ahead. But please remove the perception that they are less risky than investing in stocks directly.

If one is a saver kind of investor, a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) in either A-Category stocks or Mutual Funds  will meet the returns expectations over long periods of time. In fact considering the annual expenses of the Mutual Funds involved, investing in stocks and holding over long period of times might even beat the returns of the Mutual Funds handsomely.

Conclusion
Whether picking stocks or Mutual Funds , you need to stay up to date on the sector or the stock in order to understand the underlying investment fundamentals. You do not want to see your investments go down the drain as time passes.

You can SIP in stocks – The 10 Steps

You can SIP in stocks , Systematic INvestment Planning, The 10 Steps, Dollar Cost Averaging, Rupee Cost Averaging, .

SIP or Systematic Investment Planning is a concept. It means that you periodically invest your money. It inculcates discipline, takes out the emotional part of decision making and allows you to seamlessly participate in investing.

However, many people associate or assume that Sipping is available only with Mutual Funds. Thereby, they miss the whole essence of what SIP is all about. Indeed, mutual funds offer automatic withdrawals from your bank account to be invested in Mutual funds. And they promote SIP (albeit, not aggressively, you see, they want you to make the payments upfront and not by SIP).

However, it is to be noted that SIP is a concept and can be applied while purchasing shares or equity as well. Yes, you heard me right, you can SIP in stocks.

There are many cases, when you would want to SIP in equities like – (a) You want to build your own portfolio of stocks with a tilt towards a particular sector (b) You are a Buy-and-Hold type of Investor (c) You are interested in investing in good Dividend Yielding Stocks (d) You do not want to incur the annual AMC charges in the range of 1.75 -2.5% on your portfolio value year after year which all the actively managed Mutual Funds charge. Check this post. (e) You are interested in investing in ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds) etc.

There could be ‘n’ number of reasons where you are interested in investing in stocks. Once you have made up your mind that you want to invest in equities, you can go about doing a Systematic Investment Plan for your equity investment.

10 Steps to SIP in Stocks :

1. Decide on the intervals (or periods) in which you would like to SIP. eg: Monthly 25th of every month

2. Decide on the periodic SIP amount you would like to invest e.g.: Rs 14,000/- every month

3. Use a Calendar to set reminders. (I am a google addict You can use google calendar) or use whatever means (Physical Calendar, tell your wife etc.)so that you will receive a reminder call about the periodic investment. And you can set aside the funds to be allocated for investments.

4. Decide on the asset classes to invest. e.g.: ETF’s like Goldbees, NiftyBees, Stocks like HDFC, Cipla, BHEL, ITC etc. Debt ETF like Liquidbees (can be used for the for the debt component)

5. Decide the amount to be allocated to each asset e.g.: Rs 2,000/- each.

6. And that’s it you are all set to start sipping. Execute the Plan. Once you get a reminder Just go ahead and buy the assets.

7. Do a periodic review of your purchases every quarter in order to assess the performance.

8. Have a performance yardstick. Aim for good returns (Hey, there is no harm for trying to beat the index by a couple of percentage points year on year).

9. Measure your performance against the returns. Review.

10. Apart from TIME-WISE SIP, you can also go a step ahead. You can also do a PRICE-WISE SIP as well intelligently. If there is a > 10% drop in price of a stock between your two planned purchases, you can go ahead and pick up the stock and skip the next installment of that particular stock.

Eg: You pick up Rs 2000/- worth of Cairn India @ Rs 200/- on 25-Jan-2010. You have plan of picking up Rs2000/- worth of Cairn India on 25-Feb-2010. However , if Cairn India were to drop by > 10% or more in Jan itself , then go ahead and pick up in the stock in Jan and skip the Feb-2010 installment.

There are many Index ETF’s which are available and which are a good, low cost alternative to mutual funds which you can (or rather should) avail.

Understand what type of Investor you are, if You are the Saver Kind of Investor, go ahead SIP in Stocks. Step-by-Step over a period of time you would have created a portfolio of stocks which will generate income for you in form of dividends and which will also appreciate with time to generate wealth over a period of time.

March 2010

Costly Investment Mistakes to avoid at all costs – Part III

Costly Investment mistakes Part 3, Investment Planning, Financial Planning, Stocks, Mutual Funds Investing, Life Planning, Goal Oriented Planning.

In the process of investing, one often makes mistakes.

Here are some of the most common investing mistakes which investors generally make and some of which even I had made in the earlier part of my investment years

Of course, learning from the mistakes, continually, the investing experience has truly been rewarding experience.

You can also cultivate good habits of investing by avoiding the following mistakes.

This series is in continuation to the earlier 2 posts which contains the first 5 common mistakes committed by investors. You can read posts here at ( Part I and Part II )

This post ( Part III )  will throw light on the following common mistakes generally committed by investors:

#6. Having Unrealistic Expectations from Investments & Wrong understanding of Risk

Indexes (Sensex and Nifty) have gained more than 85% returns from the lows of March 2009. All the TV channels and newspaper headlines have started to focus on this aspect a lot andfuel greedin common people. Similarly just 2 months earlier to March 2009, or so,  when there seemed no end to the global markets falling down, were down more than -ve 50% , the same TV channels and newspapers were fueling fearsinto the minds of the people.

Expecting similar returns consistently from the stock markets is one of the common mistakes. This happens when expectations from the market are unrealistic (like doubling money in 1 year. etc).

The other side is when there is fear in the markets there perception that markets are extremely risky and all investments should be moved to safe instruments like FD’s etc.

Point is :

Markets test patience and reward conviction.

1. Equity Markets cannot keep rising 100% year on year every year & cannot keep falling 50% year on year every year.

2. There are various phases to the markets, long periods of range bounded ness, sudden spurts either up or down due to sentiments, global factors etc.  All this causes violent moves in the markets in short term. In the long run or long periods of time 5yr, 10yr, 15yr the ups and downs and returns from the marketseven outtoyield mean (or average) realistic returns. Being aware of this point is important.

3.Riskin equity marketsappears very highin short period of time. HoweverRisk in Equity markets is reduced significantly when investments are spread over long periods of time.

4. Risk and Returns are inseparable. Once the objective is clear which is get better returns over a period of time, then you must be willing to invest in instruments which carry more risk, intelligently. And marry the risk with passage of time to yield good returns.

#7. Leaving Investments in Auto Mode – No Periodic Assessment, No periodic Re balancing

You do periodic health checkup with the objective of finding if there is any need to take preventive measures to keep the body in good shape. If you are gaining weight and becoming overweight, you need to start taking steps to cut down on the weight. Similarly, if you are losing weight and have become underweight, you need to start taking steps to regain health.

Similarly, periodic assessment of portfolio (once a quarter, every 6 months at least) is necessary. This has to be done with the similar objective of taking preventive measures (if at all required) to keep the portfolio in good shape. Portfolio rebalancing has to be done as per asset allocation.

However, many investors make mistake of leaving the portfolio in auto mode once the investments have been made. Investments is indeed a long term process, but If some investment goes sour, and it is not acted upon in a timely manner,  it probably becomes too late / or too costly to get the portfolio back on track , if preventive measures are not planned and executed.

Final Part to be contd…… You can read the final installment here at Part IV

February 2010

Purpose of Investments

Purpose of Investments, Wealth Management, Wealth Generation, Accumulation, Distribution, Estate Planning, Tax Planning, Power of compounding.

The world of finance can be intimidating, But as Raplh Waldo Emerson says “Fear always springs from ignorance”. The stock market and so called greater financial world is not complicated once you become aware of the basics of investing and dispel fear of ignorance.

First let us see What is not a Investment? Now, This is fun….

First of all, Investing isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. (There are other risky, very risky avenues of speculation to get-rich-quick which very often turn to get-poor-quick for people with no discipline and patience. Remember – High Risk , High Return, Less Risk, Less Return) . Investing is not speculation. Investing is not buying stocks on a “Hot Tip”. Always remember a Hot Tip leads to a bottomless Pit.:-). Investing is not following the herd which often leaves the investors high and dry. Investing is not listening to channels to analysts and always clicking on your portfolio to see it (along with your heartbeat) fluctuate on a daily basis. Investment should not be done emotionally (Oh, my uncle’s wife’s son’s friend’s sister wants to sell me a insurance cum investment policy, How can I say No. Well — Learn to say No. There are many things in life where you have to say No. ).  Investment is also not just about returns.

So that brings us to What is a Investment : Well, What does wikipedia have to say : “Investment is the commitment of money or capital to purchase financial instruments or other assets in order to gain profitable returns in form of interest, income, or appreciation of the value of the instrument”

Investing is putting your money to work for you in order to generate wealth. Generally Money is earned by income generated for some work done for which we trade our precious time. Problem is: for more money, you have to work more hours and give more time. And time is a limited resource. One way is to make your money work for you and start earning. Quite simply, making your money work for you maximizes your earning potential.

goal_purpose

Again, Investments have to be planned and done with a purpose, a meaning, and should be done to realize goals of life. Investments are not a one-size-fits-all manner and are individual specific, situation specific. Goals like, Retirement , Child Education, Child Marriage, House Purchase in future, Purchasing assets in future, — goals in different times/ stages of life. etc. And so Investment Planning is utmost important. Plan , Plan , Plan and then execute. Look at the big picture and do not miss the forest (long term enrichment goals) for the trees (unplanned short sightedness)

There are many different ways you can go about making an investment. Stocks, Mutual Funds, ETF’s , Money Market Liquid Funds, bank FD’s etc., or real estate , or  starting your own business. It does not matter which method you choose for investing your money. However, the objective is always to put your money to work over long periods of time (5 yrs-10yrs-15yrs+) with adequate margin of safety, and let the magic of compounding take over,  so that it beats inflation and generates wealth and fulfills the purpose and more or less  achieves the goals.

This is the most important concept in investing.