How do you manage your Fiefdoms? 

Are your subjects happy? 

Is there surplus going around? 

Is dealing smooth and efficient? 

Are you content with your performance? 

Do you have the vision and the energy to enhance your fiefdoms into a kingdom? 

What are we talking about? 

How are these questions relevant for a career in finance? 

We all establish some position or positions of power, in the many areas of our lives. 

These are our fiefdoms. 

Inside these, we rule. 

Inside these, people or objects seem to be temporarily under our control. 

The micro reflects the macro. 

Our behaviour while governing a fiefdom hints at what / how we’ll be like when governing a kingdom. 

Get your acts together, people. 

Good governance is a habit. It starts small. Ultimately, it becomes a way of life. 

Your many fiefdoms multiply as you progress into a kingdom of sorts. 

Applied to finance, your kingdom is then your market footprint at your peak. Good governance thrown in, you’re rocking already. 

How did it happen? 

Baby steps of good governance multiplied into giant ones. 

It’s as simple as that. 

The most coveted things in life are also the simplest ones. 

🙂 

Dealing from a Position of Strength 

Next move… 

… should make you stronger. 

If it’s not, you’re wasting your position of strength. 

And, if it’s not, it’s not going to be your next move. 

Think up a different one. 

You had the acumen to gravitate to a position of strength. 

What makes you think that you don’t have the acumen to become even stronger? 

Take your time. 

In a position of strength, time becomes your friend. 

Here, you possess the means to double, treble or what have you your time. You hire quality people, to listen to their sound advice. You don’t have to follow them. However, it’s good to look at quality behaviour while finalizing the next move. Specialists provide you with that service. The specialist you want to listen to first wants to make you some money and then thinks about his or her commission. There are some such ones out there. Find them. 

Reject a hundred specialists. Then choose one that fits your specs. You’re in a position to do so. You’re in a position of strength. 

When time becomes your friend, consolidation comes as a matter of course to you. You consolidate before every next move. Consolidation makes your strength potent. 

You might want to consider some charity. Increase the good vibes around you. Make it a better world. Those in a position of weakness can’t afford to do so. You can. Come on. You’ll feel good about it. Yeah, help someone in a position of weakness. You’ll remain grounded. 

Take time off. Leisure will bring you back with all cylinders firing towards your next move. 

Pursue secondary, even tertiary lines. Disconnect from primary at will. Connect back, again at will. 

You see? 

Position of strength opens up a whole new world for you. 

That’s where you want to be… 

… in a position of strength. 

Work towards it. 

From Strength to Strength 

Baby steps… 

… into freedom. 

What kind of freedom are we talking about? 

Universal freedom? 

If you insist, smarty, but first things first.

Financial freedom. 

That’s the kind of freedom that sparks off every other kind of freedom. 

Our first and foremost goal is to achieve financial freedom. 

What is the one big nemesis of financial freedom? 

Debt. 

Tear off debt. 

Detest it with every cell of your body. 

If it comes towards you, move in the other direction.

Don’t allow it’s tentacles to engulf and then strangle you. 

You do all that by nipping it in the bud. 

A new world order in being defined. 

The debt-free… 

… and the in-debt-ones. 

Where do you wish to belong?

The former category calls the shots. 

That’s where you belong. 

Your every move… 

… takes you from strength to strength… 

… towards debt-free-ness. 

Full financial freedom is a short walk from there. 

Story doesn’t stop there, sure, your strength-momentum sees to that.

However, it’s the first debt-free million that’s always the hardest-fought, and the most-fondly remembered.  

How much is too much? 

Risk? 

Sure. 

No risk no gain. 

However… 

… I’m sure you’ve also heard… 

… “want gain not pain“.

How do we achieve that? 

It boils down to the level of risk. 

How much risk is too much? 

Do we have a measure? 

Sure. 

Meaning, without getting into any mathematics?

Yes. 

What’s a hands-on everyday TomDickHarry dumdum yet practical cum successful measure for risk without any hype or brouhaha? 

Sleep. 

Sleep? 

Yeah. 

How? 

Are we sleeping well? 

Is our sleep getting disturbed because of the risk we’ve taken? 

No? 

We’re fine. 

The risk we’ve taken is bearable. 

It’s not disturbing us enough to disturb our sleep. 

Yes? Sleep disturbed? Because of risk? 

We’ll, too much then. 

Reduce the risk. 

By how much? 

Till your sleep is not disturbed because of it. 

It’s as simple as that. 

What to do with a racing mind? 

Harness it. 

Or, it’ll get you. 

How? 

It won’t stop racing till it finds something of interest. 

Then, it’ll hook on… 

… without caring too much… 

… whether that something’s good or bad.

At that stage, you might not be able to control your mind. 

Control it when it’s controllable. 

Before it’s latched on. 

Before the flow has started. 

Define for yourself the area of flow. 

Actively make your mind connect. 

Regulate your flow. 

Enjoy the harnessed potential of your mind. 

Let’s observe a practical example in motion. 

I’ve actively latched on my mind, among other things, to the stock market. 

The market has many aspects.

I need to take into account most of these, if not all, while picking a stock. 

Sure. 

However, some aspects stand out for me. 

To these aspects I latch on my mind very thoroughly. 

I like it to get a feel for honesty. 

While I’m screening a stock, my racing mind either picks honesty or it doesn’t. 

If it hasn’t smelt and felt honesty after two days of studying the stock, I just let the stock go. 

Some are big on numbers. Some are big on charts. Sure, I look at both. Honesty delivers the final decision for me, though, as in, the crucial blow. 

Instead of resorting to all kinds of nonsense, the racing mind can be taught to become one’s greatest asset. 

What about Daddy Cool? 

Boney M sang this blockbuster hit in the ’70s.

I’m sure you’ve heard it, because it’s still the rage. 

he’s crazy like a fool – what about daddy cool? 

Who’s Daddy Cool? 

You tell me. 

Is it you, in a cool cucumber moment, slow to respond to stimulus, devoid of anger, master of your situation in a kinda non-bossy, non-micro-managing (cool) way? 

And what of Mr. Hyde’s Dr. Jekyll nature? 

We’re talking about your “like a fool” moment.

Just for your information, winning behaviour is often termed foolish by the crowd. 

Contrarian investing is one such example. 

Successful derivative trading is another. 

To cap it, let’s not even talk about private equity in real-estate. 

Did someone mention high-yield structured-debt? 

There are many examples of “foolish” behaviour. 

These same examples earn very well. 

So… 

… how do we do it? 

We maintain our cool. 

We keep all basics going, as they are. 

With a small portion of our surplus, we take calculated risks, in a controlled environment. 

Sure, these risks will appear foolish to someone on the outside. 

However, our controlled environment has installed riders for our safety. 

A balance-sheet might be stressed, but not stressed enough for bankruptcy. 

A lock-in might be ultra-short. 

A stop-loss might be in place. 

Collateral might be up to 4x.

There might be a highly reputed Trustee in between. 

What have you.

Have your Daddy Cool fool-moments. 

Take some calculated risks with small portions of your surplus. 

These should give your portfolios an extra-boost. 

That nagging nagging push towards action 

Yeah, it’s always lurking… 

… in the background…

…waiting for an opportunity… 

… to catch you unawares… 

… and spring to the forefront. 

Market-play is a mental battle. 

Your mind wins or loses it for you. 

Make your mind understand the value… 

… of action… 

… and of inaction. 

Make your mind pinpoitedly choose… 

… the time for action… 

… and for inaction. 

Make your mind automatically switch from…

… a state of action… 

… to a state of inaction… 

… and vice-versa… 

… and feel perfectly normal doing the switch… 

… again and again and again. 

The above by itself is a winning state of mind for you, which you can build upon. 

🙂 

The Promise of Far 

I like “far”… 

What promises me far? 

Science fiction films. 

The Interstellar, Gravity, Inception and Contact types. 

Such films relax me. 

What relaxes you? 

Have you identified it? 

Why is this important? 

Many times, we must just sit. 

Action is harmful at such times. 

We are tense. 

We suffer from the fallacy, that action is better than inaction at all times. 

Relaxation-source identification is exactly for such times. 

Go ahead. 

Get your acts together. 

Your full acts. 

Your planning needs to incorporate strategies for inaction too. 

The Promise of Far”  strategy works well for me.

It’s not my only inaction-strategy. 

However, it’s a successful one. 

When Do You Bet The Farm? 

Bread and butter. 

Safety-…

…-net.

Basics.

You gather yourself to carve out a comfortable life for your family. 

Build-up. 

Debt-free-ness. 

Yeah, zero-debt. 

Feel the freedom. 

Breathe. 

No bondage. 

No tension. 

You have to feel it. 

Surplus. 

First, small surplus. 

Then, big surplus. 

You’ve made sure that nobody ever will remind you to pay your bills. 

Great! Well done. Now… 

… keeping all basics intact… 

… you play with small surplus. 

Risk. Calculated. Digestible. 

Multiplier. 

Loss. Cut small. 

Win. Allowed to grow. 

Small surplus starts giving regular fruit. 

You put back the principal into your family’s basic corpus. 

Repeat. 

Many of your small surpluses have grown into fruit-bearing trees. 

Your farm is bursting with grain and fruit. 

Have you taken any big, indigestible risks? 

No. 

Have you ever put your family basics at risk? 

No. 

Have you ever thought about betting the farm? 

NO. 

Will you ever bet the farm, no matter how big the lure? 

NEVER. 

It Boils Down to Good Governance 

India’s at the Olympics and all. 

We’ve had near misses. 

Sure. 

Athletes qualified fair and square. 

Not a word against India’s squad. 

They’re really trying very hard. One of our gymnasts has even risked her life by vaulting a successful Produnova. Rio-presence is achievement-based, not nepotism-based. It’s tough. It’s incorruptibly monitored. Footfall is highest ever. Indians have made the international cut in many events, like never before. Finishes are all decent. A few finishes are very, very decent, missing the podium by decimals. Our athletes deserve some podium finishes. 

However, what are 80 Indian officials doing in Rio, accompanying a squad of 119? Only a few of these 80 are allowed arena access. The rest are what? Long live the exchequer? We build up the exchequer by paying our taxes. We’d like to see its contents used judiciously. 

Let’s cast a glance at how our officials are conducting themselves at Rio. Actually, we’ll leave it at the official warning they’ve just received to behave themselves. SHAME SHAME. 

Is this good governance? 

NO. 

Do our officials deserve a podium finish?  

No. 

We’ll have to spend where it counts, on facilities, proper diets and trained physios. We’ll have to save on useless paraphernalia. Red-tape be damned. We’ll have to embrace good governance. We do want podium finishes, don’t we?

One looks up to one’s peers. If they’re corrupt, out of shape and / or out of whack, even the best athlete suffers a psychological downer. Our officials will need to trim down and get their acts together. All of them will need to behave like exemplary ambassadors of the country. They will need to give their wards that psychological boost. Coaches will themselves need to be in shape, to set good examples. Podium finishes will then be around the corner. 

Cut to stock-selection. 

The biggest and first thing to look for is good governance. 

Just cut all the nonsense out of the way, first up, because where you find good governance, you won’t find nonsense. 

It all boils down to good governance. 

Nath on Equity – make that a hundred

Long-term equity is 81). brought low.

The idea is to, if required, 82). sell it high.

Otherwise, 83). it is sold when you no longer believe in the stock concerned, for strong fundamental reasons. Or, it is sold when something more interesting comes along, and your magic number is capped. Then you sell the stock you’re least interested in and replace it with the new one.

84). Attitudes of managements can change with changing CEOs. Does a new management still hold your ideology-line?

Is the annual report flashy, wasteful, rhetorical and more of an eyewash? Or, 85). is it to the point with no BS? Same scrutiny is required for company website.

Your winners 86). try to entice you to sell them and book profits. Don’t sell them without an overwhelming reason.

Your mind will 87). try and play tricks on you to hold on to a now-turned-loser that is not giving you a single good reason to hold anymore.

If you’re not able to overcome your mind on 87)., 88). at least don’t average-down to add more of the loser to your folio.

89). High-rating bonds give negative returns in most countries, adjusted for inflation.

The same 90). goes for fixed deposits.

Take the parallel economy out of 91). real estate, and long-term returns are inferior to equity, adjusted for inflation.

92). Gold’s got storage and theft issues.

Apart from that, 93). it’s yielded 1% compounded since inception, adjusted for inflation.

Storage with equity is 94). electronic, time-tested-safe and hassle-free.

Equity’s something for you 95). with little paperwork, and, if you so wish it, no middlemen. In other words, there’s minimal nag-value.

Brokerage and taxes added together 96). make for a small and bearable procurement fees. Procurement is far more highly priced in other asset-classes.

One can delve into the nervous system of a publicly traded company. Equity is 97). transparent, with maximal company-data required to be online.

As a retail player in equity, 98). you are at a considerable advantage to institutions, who are not allowed to trade many, many stocks because of size discrepancies.

All you require to play equity is 99). an internet connection and a trinity account with a financial institution.

If you’re looking to create wealth, 100). there’s no avenue like long-term equity!

🙂

Nath on Equity – almost there

Market being down 61). should not pinch you. If such condition does pinch you, you might react accordingly, and do something painful. 

You make market-downs not pinch you by being 62). miniscually committed at any given time. 

Also, 63). you continue committing your miniscule quanta during market downs. 

That’s because 64). you’ve made sure you have lots more to commit, by defining such an approach for yourself. 

You are 65). happy that the market is down, because it is giving you an opportunity to enter. 

You 66). switch off market TV. You don’t wanna know from them, because they themselves don’t know what works for you. 

All 67). useless emails and smses are put on block. 

That’s because 68). information overload is your nemesis. 

You 69). learn from everything you experience. 

However, you 70). don’t follow any market-person. 

That’s because 71). you are unique. Only you can benefit yourself, ultimately. 

You are going to 72). teach yourself to become a strong hand

Thus, you will 73). not get affected by the behaviour of weak hands, ie. the masses.

Instead, you will teach yourself to 74). take advantage of the behaviour of weak hands. 

Market players 75). commit the same blunders again, and again and again. 

That’s because 76). every few years, a whole new batch of market players starts behaving unreasonably. 

This proves to us 77). that the only real learning comes first hand from market-play, to you and you alone, and only from your market-play.

This also pretty darn well insinuates that 78). theoretical learning from books or universities has zilch value in the markets.

You’re lucky 79). if the market knocks you around during your first seven years of market-play, when the kitty is small. 

That’s because 80). exactly that learning from 79). is going to earn you big as the kitty increases during your meat-years of market-play. 

Nath on Equity : have stuff – will talk

Behind Equity, there’s 41). human capital. 

It’s human capital that keeps 42). adjusting equity for inflation.

43). No other asset-class quotes on an inflation-adjusted basis. 

That’s good news for you, because 44). equity takes care of the number one wealth-eater (inflation) for you. 

All world equity ever quoted, whether currently existing or not, has 45). returned 6% per annum compounded, adjusted for inflation. 

46). All equity ever quoted that still exists has yielded 11% per annum compounded, adjusted for inflation.

Equity selected with good due diligence, common-sense and adherence to basic rules listed here and in previous articles is 47). well-capable of yielding 15%+ per annum compounded, adjusted for inflation. 

However, equity is 48). a battle of nerves, at times. 

This asset-class is 49). more about creating long-term wealth. 

It can be used, though, to 50). generate income through trading. 

51). Trading, however, is burdened with more taxation, commission-generation and sheer tension. 

Trading equity 52). eats up your day. 

Investing in equity 53). gives you enough room to pursue many other activities during your day. 

Trading strategies are 54). diametrically opposite to investing strategies. 

55). It takes market-players the longest time to digest and fully comprehend 54).

For long-term players, 56). up-side is unlimited. This is a vital fact. 

Also, 57). downside is limited to input. Factor in good DD, and that very probably won’t even go half-way. 

58). Thus, 56). and 57). make for a very lucrative reward : risk ratio. 

Equity needs courage, to 59). enter when there’s blood on the streets. 

It also needs detachment, to 60). either exit when required for monetary reasons, or when everyone else is getting ultra-greedy and bidding the underlying up no-end. 

Nath on Equity – Some more DooDats 

Yawn, the story goes on… 

Let’s 21). not think about our folio at night. 

We’re also 22). only going to connect to the market on a need-to basis, no more. 

If there’s a 23). doubt, wait. 

24). Clarify doubt. If it goes away, proceed with market action. If not, discard action. 

Don’t spread 25). too wide. 75+ stocks means you’re running a mutual fund. 

Don’t spread 26). too thin either. Just 5 stocks in the folio means that risk is not adequately spread out. Choose your magic number, one that you’re comfortable with. 

Once this number is crossed, 27). start discarding the worst performer upon every new addition. 

28). Rarely look at folio performance. Only do so to fine-tune folio. 

Don’t give 29). tips. Don’t ask for them either. 

You are you. 30). Don’t compare your folio to another. 

Due diligence will require 31). brass tacks. Don’t be afraid to plunge into annual reports and balance sheets. 

32). Read between the lines. 

Look 33). how much the promoters personally earn annually from the underlying . Some promoters take home an unjustified number. That’s precisely the underlying to avoid. Avoid a greedy promoter as if you were avoiding disease. 

Is 34). zero-debt really zero-debt?  Look closely. 

Are the 35). promoters shareholder-friendly? Do they regularly create value for the shareholder? 

Are 36). strong reserves present? 

Are the 37). promoters capable of eating up these instead of using them to create value? 

Is the 38). underlying liquid enough to function on a daily basis? Look at the basic ratios. 

Is any 39). wheeling-dealing going on with exceptional items and what have you? 

40). Is the company likely to be around in ten years time? 

Yeah, things in the equity world need to be thorough. 

We’re getting there. 

🙂 

Nath on Equity – Yardsticks, Measures and Rules

Peeps, these are my rules, measures and yardsticks. 

They might or might not work for you. 

If they do, it makes me happy, and please do feel free to use them. 

Ok, here goes. 

I like to do my homework well. 1). DUE DILIGENCE. 

I like to write out my rationale for entry. 2). DIARY entry.

I do not enter if I don’t see 3). VALUE.

I like to see 4). MOAT also. 

I don’t commit in one shot. 5). Staggered entry.

I can afford to 6). average down, because my fundamentals are clear. 

My 7). defined entry quantum unit per shot is minuscule compared to networth. 

I only enter 8). one underlying on a day, max. If a second underlying awaits entry, it will not be entered into on the same day something else has been purchased. 

I’ve left 9). reentry options open to unlimited. 

I enter for 10). ten years plus. 

Funds committed are classified as 11). lockable for ten years plus. 

For reentry, 12). stock must give me a reason to rebuy. 

If the reason is good enough, I don’t mind 13). averaging up. 

Exits are 14). overshadowed by lack of repurchase. 

I love 15). honest managements. 

I detest 16). debt. 

I like 17). free cashflow. 

My margin of safety 18). allows me to sit. 

I pray for 19). patience for a pick to turn into a multibagger.

I keep my long-term portfolio 20). well cordoned off from bias, discussion, opinion, or review by any other person. 

There’s more, but it’ll come another day. 

🙂

Lost for Words, Mr. Nath? 

Yeah, sometimes I really am. 

With very few people, and in very few situations. 

Call it Karma. 

That’s not the point. 

In the event you find yourself in a similar situation, we’re here to size up options. 

What do we fall back on? 

Silence. 

In its solitude, a thought processes emerges. 

What are we looking for? 

Cool, calm straight-forward common sense.

Found it? 

It will speak to you. 

Let it. 

It’s got the words, remember? You don’t. 

Listen to it. 

What’s it telling you to do? 

Difficult? 

Can you do it? A yes is great here. You’re sorted already. 

No? 

Next option. 

Nothing. 

Can you sit tight? Doing nothing? Till your path emerges? Yes is good. 

No? 

Ok. 

Can you stop yourself from doing the wrong thing? 

Wrong? 

Violence, anger etc. You got it? 

How, you ask? 

Occupy yourself with something else more captivating. Possible? A yes here is your last “amicable” option. 

If it’s still a no, you might want to consider new company, or a new environment. 

Sometimes, we get stuck in life. With a person. And / or in a situation. For good reasons, we can’t get out. What’s the silver lining? 

Learning. 

Our difficult situation is ironing out some fault within us. As long as the fault remains, the situation seems desperate. No fault anymore? Situation vanishes. 

It’s called evolution. 

We don’t evolve for free.

Similarly, we don’t learn to navigate through the markets for free. 

Difficult situations teach us. They cost money.

We survive small losses through the learning process, to win big later. We want the learning process to come at an early stage, when the stakes are low. 

The biggest wins come when we use our evolution to capitalize upon a difficult situation, because we know its nuances. That’s good for the markets. 

In real life it won’t pay to take advantage of somebody’s nuances. That’s actually devolving. 

Maintaining perspective between market life and real life is an evolutionary exercise too.