Archive for May, 2015

High end investing and low end returns

Most of us dream of owning a high end car or bike ( Harley this or BMW that ) because those vehicles arguably are the best in class and are seen as exclusive.  This works exactly opposite in investments. Many people, especially the high net worth investors get caught in this trap of exclusivity-is-better while investing.

This was sadly discovered by the singer Suchitra Krishnamurthy who was a ‘privilege’ customer of a large foreign bank. Check the link for the full story.

Sadly, this not an one off event and has happened to many. Even public sector banks are not immune to this disease of selling toxic investment products to their ever believing customers who believe that anything sold by a ‘government’ bank or insurance company is safe. Check out the link below for an example.

In investing, simple stuff works best. In the past highest return came from buying-and-holding on to investments like equity  mutual funds for 20 years( 16%+ p.a from equity funds).

But as one’s wealth grows, it attracts lots of attention foremost from your bank as they are fully ‘aware’ of your account balance.  You will be tempted with Gold Privilege Account, Private banking, exclusive relationship manager   along with free invitations to concerts, limitless credit cards and other such knick-knacks.

While buying any investment please remember that what matters most is

1. Where is the money being invested ?

2. What is the cost ?

3. What is long term track record of returns ?

4. How quickly can you sell?

5. What are the charges for selling?

Read all this in the application form before signing. Many who happily sign on the dotted line without reading do not realize that their hard earned wealth is being invested in things that can not be sold easily, has high costs and mostly low returns.

What is the solution for the investor then ?  Whether one is a HNI or not, I suggest sticking  to simple open ended equity funds that have been around for 10 years or more (only if you have the patience to wait for next 10 years at least). While mutual funds do not guarantee any returns, they are the most transparent investment products and are well regulated. While future returns can vary, they will likely remain the best option for wealth creation.

So next time when some one tries to push an investment plan along your way, please remember that it is not a good idea to mix investments and insurance, Term Insurance is what most of us require for protection and investments are for growth, keep it simple and separate.


PS :  I advise on mutual funds and hence am biased towards it and against other products. But most of what i write is from my personal experience of seeing  investors suffer after buying products with long lock-ins and low returns.


Comments (2)

Three myths about equity investing.


Myth No 1. Only rich can invest, for middle class only PPF and other savings makes sense :

Not really, while PPF and other deposits give around 8-9% p.a returns over 15 years  equity funds have given around 14%p.a to 20% p.a.

One lakh invested in equity funds ( see picture below) is valued anywhere between Rs.  7 lakhs ( for a very low performing fund)  to Rs. 15 lacs ( for a good fund) today, whereas the same Rs. 1 lakh in PPF is Rs. 3.9 Lakhs. The difference is Rs. 3 Lakhs, not small difference for a Rs. 1 lakh investment.

So any one from middle class can be rich, if they set aside a part of their savings to equity funds  and forget about it for 15,20 years. Of course PPF is safer, equity funds may not be, which leads to second myth.

Myth No 2:  Equities are risky.

Yes, but that is no reason not to invest in equity at all, by all means continue investing in PPF if safety is paramount but do invest in equity funds too and give it the same time as you give your PPF. Missing out on this 15%+ kind of returns is wrong, most of us in middle class can never become financially free if we continue to depend on 9% returns to get wealthy while we pay 10% interest on our home loans and 12% for educational loans.

Myth No. 3 :  It takes money to make money.

It does, till you see how little money it takes to make big money.

Rs. 5000 invested p.m ( or Rs. 166 per day if that gives you some ideas to save ) at 18% return for next 20 years can become Rs. 1.1 Crores, 18% is what equity funds have delivered over last 20 years, some have been higher at 20% too. Even assume we get 15% in future, it will be a cool Rs. 75 Lakhs.


To sum up :  Equity is the one asset class that is missing from an average middle class families portfolio today, most diligently stand in queue and invest in PPF, have some gold and real estate but nil to very little equities. If one gives the same time as PPF to equity funds and invests regularly think the results would be satisfactory to say the least.

Happy investing.


Picture source : Manoj Nagpal via Twitter @manojnagpal





Comments (1)

Whataydeal whatafeel !!

The now famous ad from an online retailer has a song Whataydeal, whatafeel. For a few days the retailer had announced discounts hence the advt. The nice video of happy shoppers dancing to the song is a great ad which reinforces that we are always happy getting a good deal.

This sadly however does not happen in investing, very few dare to invest when markets fall, and no one for sure dances when markets fall !! Instead we have pictures of people gaping at the prices in front of stock exchange.

market at 50% off in 2009 but no one is dancing ! Image Source : Reuters


Newspapers use words like panic, mayhem, blood bath etc.

The investment gurus tell us that buy low sell high is the mantra to make money but that would require the investor to muster courage to buy when everyone is selling in panic.

So, is it impossible for an ordinary investor to get the deal which market offers ?

No, the simple way is to invest a fixed amount every month in an equity mutual fund that not only helps us to increase our wealth but also ensures that we buy more when markets are down ( since we invest a fixed amount, lower prices would mean more quantity) and less when markets are up.

Over the last 10-15 years, equity funds have delivered anywhere from 16% to 21% p.a. Anyone who invested as little as Rs. 5000 p.m for last 20 years has made Rs. 1.1 crore ( assuming a return of 18%)  now that is whatay deal & they are dancing their way to the bank !

If you want whatay feel in future, please do invest a fixed amount for next decade or two in equity mutual funds to get whatay feel returns !

Start with as much as you can and increase as you go, when you can save more, when you get a raise etc.

Not many will do this, those who invest in equity funds regularly are few and far between, it is much easier to buy some electronic stuff for Rs. 29999 only that they will throw away to buy another whatay deal product after couple of years( or is that too long these days 🙂 . But those who do invest, are likely to be seen dancing their way to the bank in future, singing whatayfeel 🙂

Note : though returns can vary etc. Historically equities generate the best return and that investing fixed amounts is the best way to invest in equities. Returns can vary but my take is that equities will remain the best place to invest in future too.  That said, Mutual Funds like anyother investments are subject to market risks. Past returns may not be repeated, future returns are not known etc.,

Image Source :