Archive for July, 2018

When a science teacher teaches finance !

Life changing thoughts from ‘Guru’s around the world, those whom i met and those whom i have only read about. This Guru Purnima thought i would list some of them.

My school science teacher once told me the equation of happiness as  “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” This was from Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield. He told this when i met him after i got a job. The sincerity of the great teacher,his love for our welfare and the simple advice has stayed with me very long. Actually it is that simple, no need for fancy plans or big spreadsheets. The basic is you spend less than you earn is the first step to financial freedom, it is something to remember in this world of zero % EMIs.

I saw the cover of business world magazine somewhere in 1998 if i recall correctly, the image was that of an elderly man jogging sprightly on the beach in Mumbai and the title was Wizards of Dalal Street. The man on the cover was the Late Chandrakant Sampat, an ace investor who has been called as Warren Buffett of India by many highly respected investors in India. The article said that Sampat would never miss his jogging come rain or shine. The magazine was a turning point for me to move to the world of investing as opposed to trading, for the first time i read and saw about long term investing that was by Indian investors. I still have that magazine 🙂 You can read about Sampat here : Grand old man of Dalal Street

In my hometown of Trichy there was a gent who lived near us, his was a small house and he used to park his TVS50 in the hall of the house every night ! He used to tell us to invest in good businesses and not to trade as trading terminals had just begun to spring everywhere. I was employed in a stock brokers office and he would come in every day to read papers and check some prices. He gave examples of good companies like Crisil, Gillette, Hindustan Lever, Ponds, Colgate, Thomas Cook etc. I came to know later that he had portfolio which was few crores,big money that too way back in late 90s. He taught me to be humble and happy but also that one can be very successful too !

Around 2001, I was working in a wealth management co in Chennai and markets were very quiet and down, it was the after math of dot come bubble, and then in September of 2001 the twin towers collapsed and so did markets in India the next day ! People were afraid of some world war happening and panic was very real but a client walked in to office and invested few lakhs the day, I understood what contrarian being meant and how tough it is to say to buy when panic is there in the markets but quite another to actually do it as he was the only person to buy that day !

One was  a real life teacher who is a sort of cult celebrity among our school students,  Chandrakant Sampat was a long distance teacher who talked about value investing, quality and corporate governance which are being bandied today almost 20 years later. The third was a happy neighbour who would tell everyone within earshot to invest for the long-term  and not speculate. The fourth was a client who taught me what being a true contrarian investor was ! Each one different from another but all gave valuable lessons in life and investing.

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Happy weekend and try to see the longest lunar eclipse of the century,promises to be a sight to behold !




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