Is it a Crime?

With due respect to Sade, no, the next words are not going to be “to say that i love you…”.

Is it a crime? To be oneself? For you to be you?

No.

Then why?

Why what?

Why can’t you be you?

You being you is a winning combination in the markets. 

In any market. 

Why?

When you’ve recognised who you are, you invest and / or trade as per your risk-profile. 

More than half the battle is won here already. 

You’re not trying to emulate an RJ, or a WB, or CM or BG for that matter. 

You’re too busy being UU.

When does that happen?

After you’ve been there and done that. 

After you’ve had your fill of loss-making transactions. 

Yeah, you tried to do an RJ, but couldn’t sleep the night 40% down on your position, and then you folded. 

RJ probably sleeps well, even if 40-down on a position. That’s his risk-profile. When equity markets were badly beaten some years ago, I’ve seen him on TV saying that his bread and butter is safe, and his grossly hammered positions won’t be affecting his day to day life, or something to that effect. He obviously had no intentions of folding. That’s RJ. Not you. So, don’t do an RJ. Do a you. 

What happens in the markets when you behave like you really are?

You take digestible risks. Digestible for you. 

No risk, no gain. Remember. You’ll have to put something at stake, to be able to gain. 

You take a risk, again, and again, and again. 

Some play out well. Some badly. 

You nip the bad ones in the bud. 

You let the good ones play out to their logical conclusion. 

This is already a winning strategy. 

Cheers!

🙂

 

 

 

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The Art of Addressing

Address your goals.

Daily.

Make that part of your basics.

It’s easy to sit back, when a few fundamentals are sorted.

There could be bread and butter on the table.

Family could be in their groove.

Are you quite there yet?

No.

Don’t rest on the laurels of the few fundamentals you might have achieved.

An RJ might light a cigar and open a bottle of single in the evening, but only after his goals have been addressed for the day.

A WB might invite his poker buddies and kick off a game after a round of hamburgers… after his goals for the day have been addressed.

When does BG nip into his chocolates? At bedtime. After you know what. After addressing his goals for the day.

Yeah.

Now it’s your turn.

Have a few simple goals.

What?

Don’t have such goals?

Well, make them.

Then address them.

Break down your goals to their prime number form. For example :

– Research a stock

– Trade some forex.

– Write a piece.

– Learn something new.

See. As simple as possible.

It’s convenient to address simplicity.

Laziness and complacency are enemies, though.

Fight them.

🙂

Can We Please Get This One Basic Thing Right?

Pop-quiz, people – how many of us know the basic difference between investing and trading?

The logical follow-up question would be – why is it so important that one is aware of this difference?

When you buy into deep value cheaply, you are investing. Your idea is to sell high, after everyone else discovers the value which you saw, and acted upon, before everyone.

When you’re not getting deep value, and you still buy – high – you are trading. Your idea is to sell even higher, to the next idiot standing, and to get out before becoming the last pig holding the red-hot scrip, which would by now have become so hot, that no one else would want to take it off you.

The above two paras need to be understood thoroughly.

Why?

So that you don’t get confused while managing a long-term portfolio. Many of us actually start trading with it. Mistake.

Also, so that you don’t start treating your trades as investments. Even bigger mistake.

You see, investing and trading both involve diametrically opposite strategies. What’s good for the goose is poison for the gander. And vice-versa.

For example, while trading, you do not average down. Period. Averaging down in a trade is like committing hara-kiri. What if the scrip goes down further? How big a notional loss will you sit upon, as a trader? Don’t ignore the mental tension being caused. The thumb rule is, that a scrip can refuse to turn in your direction longer than you can remain solvent, so if you’re leveraged, get the hell out even faster. If you’re not leveraged, still get the hell out and put the money pulled out into a new trade. Have some stamina left for the new trade. Don’t subject yourself to anguish by sitting on a huge notional loss. Just move to the next trade. Something or the other will move in your direction.

On the other hand, a seasoned investor has no problems averaging down. He or she has researched his or her scrip well, is seeing  deep-value as clearly as anything, is acting with long-term conviction, and is following a staggered buying strategy. If on the second, third or fourth buy the stock is available cheaper, the seasoned investor will feel that he or she is getting the stock at an even bigger discount, and will go for it.

Then, you invest with money you don’t need for the next two to three years. If you don’t have funds to spare for so long, you don’t invest …

… but nobody’s going to stop you from trading with funds you don’t need for the next two to three months. Of course you’re trading with a strict stop-loss with a clear-cut numerical value. Furthermore, you’ve also set your bail-out level. If your total loss exceeds a certain percentage, you’re absolutely gonna stop trading for the next two to three months, and are probably gonna get an extra part-time job to earn back the lost funds, so that your financial planning for the coming months doesn’t go awry. Yeah, while trading, you’ve got your worst-case strategies sorted out.

The investor doesn’t look at a stop-loss number. He or she is happy if he or she continues to see deep-value, or even value. When the investor fails to see value, it’s like a bail-out signal, and the investor exits. For example, Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala continues to see growth-based value in Titan Industries at 42 times earnings, and Titan constitutes about 30% of his billion dollar portfolio. On the other hand, Mr. Warren Buffett could well decide to dump Goldman Sachs at 11 – 12 times earnings if he were to consider it over-valued.

Then there’s taxes.

In India, short-term capital gains tax amounts to 15%  of the profits. Losses can be carried forward for eight years, and within that time, they must be written off against profits. As a trader, if you buy stock and then sell it within one year, you must pay short term capital gains tax. Investors have it good here. Long-term capital gains tax is nil (!!). Also, all the dividends you receive are tax-free for you.

Of course we are not going to forget brokerage.

Traders are brokerage-generating dynamos. Investors hardly take a hit here.

What about the paper-work?

An active trader generates lots of paper-work, which means head-aches for the accountant. Of course the accountant must be hired and paid for, and is not going to suffer the headaches for free.

Investing involves much lesser action, and its paper-work can easily be managed on your own, without any head-aches.

Lastly, we come to frame of mind.

Sheer activity knocks the wind out of the average trader. He or she has problems enjoying other portions of life, because stamina is invariably low. Tomorrow is another trading day, and one needs to prepare for it. Mind is full of tension. Sleep is bad. These are some of the pitfalls that the trader has to iron out of his or her life. It is very possible to do so. One can trade and lead a happy family life. This status is not easy to achieve, though, and involves mental training and discipline.

The average investor who is heavily invested can barely sleep too, during a market down-turn. The mind constantly wanders towards the mayhem being inflicted upon the portfolio. An investor needs to learn to buy with margin of safety, which makes sitting possible. An investor needs to learn to sit. The investor should not be more heavily invested than his or her sleep-threshold. The investor’s portfolio should not be on the investor’s mind all day. It is ideal if the investor does not follow the market in real-time. One can be heavily invested and still lead a happy family life, even during a market down-turn, if one has bought with safety and has even saved buying power for such cheaper times. This status is not easy to achieve either. To have cash when cash is king – that’s the name of the game.

I’m not saying that investing is better than trading, or that trading is better than investing.

Discover what’s good for you.

Many do both. I certainly do both.

If you want to do both, make sure you have segregated portfolios.

Your software should be in a position to make you look at only your trading stocks, or only your investing stocks at one time, in one snapshot. You don’t even need separate holding accounts; your desktop software can sort out the segregation for you.

That’s all it takes to do both – proper segregation – on your computer and in your mind.

Learning to Sit (Part II)

Can you sit?

I mean, can you really sit?

Maximum money is made by sitting, not by wiggling about.

I didn’t say that, but people far, far greater did.

To name just two who did say so, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jesse Livermore and Warren Buffett.

Fact remains – if you’re a long-term investor, you have to be able to sit.

One can’t sit for very long if one isn’t comfortable.

So, logic dictates – make yourself comfortable first.

Get rid of all extra background noise that disturbs you.

Keep consolidating – till you are comfortable to a point of not wanting to move from where you are.

You’ve gotten rid of investments you don’t understand.

Then, you’ve also dumped those investments that you do understand, but which don’t interest you.

Your rapport with your family is healthy.

You eat and sleep well.

You enjoy your life.

Then, the investments that you’re gonna sit on – are their volumes influencing the normal flow of your life?

If yes, it’ll be hard to stay focused somewhere down the line, because some fragment of your life will invariably be disturbed positively or negatively due to the voluminous investment in question.

Can you digest the volume such that its level does not interfere with your daily life?

What is your capacity for volume digestion?

Some have very large digestive capacities, like RJ. Such people can sleep comfortably on gigantic invested volumes for a very long time.

Others don’t digest volume at all, and can’t sleep over volume, like that day-trader who lives down the road. When the market closes, his invested volume is nil. Otherwise, the rest of his day is ruined.

Identify your volume threshold.

Invest below it. Then, you’ll be able to sit on your investment.

Any investment must have a rationale. Is your investment rationale sound? You’ll only be able to sit long-term on an investment made with sound rationale.

Therefore, take your time. Do solid research. Your research is pivotal for your investment. It doesn’t have to be so technical or so fundamental as to psyche a lay-person. It doesn’t have to deal with nitty-gritty. It doesn’t have to look for wheels within wheels.

In my opinion, market research needs to be broad-minded, and done with common-sense. Researching a company is an art. One doesn’t need to go ballistic with numbers, mathematics, projections, charts etc. One needs to formulate the long-term picture in one’s mind, based on key ratios, charting basics, knowledge of cycles, quality of management etc., and of course (based on) the million dollar question – is one looking at a multibagger? You can fill in the blanks here, for yourself.

Then, don’t enter with too big a bang. That’s my formula. Enter small. You can always top up later, if your conviction about your investment has grown. That’ll allow you to sit if your investment goes wrong in the initial stages. If you’ve entered too big and things go awry, you won’t be able to sleep, and then the first thing you’ll do is exit. So, enter small.

See, you can average down if you’re an expert, but for the longest time and till you get the hang of things, do not average down.

Why am I saying this?

Averaging down can make you even more jumpy if the stock in question goes down further. Your chances of sitting on your investment become even lesser.

Now for the flip-side. Sitting on a profit? Are you booking? Yes? No?

Depends. On you. On your outlook.

I mean, are you going to nip a multibagger in the bud?

I think you got the point.

So, till when do you sit?

Till you’re comfortable. Till you can sleep and eat well. Till you have a happy family life. Again, define you own “tills”.

The rest, as they say, is (your own investing) History.

Who Told Who So?

Nobody’s in a position to tell anyone so.

That’s the marketplace for you in a nutshell.

There are times when you’re sure a scrip has peaked, and it just keeps on going higher, and higher, and then even higher.

At other times, a scrip might show tremendous valuations, but it just refuses to rise. 9 years in a row. Just refuses to rise.

Welcome to a world where if you’re able to watch your own back, you’re good.

In the world we are speaking about, a Rakesh or a Warren are what they are because that’s what suits them particularly. What suits them might most definitely not suit you. What makes you think you can emulate someone in the marketplace?

That’s the whole point, people.

You need to carve out your own unique niche in the marketplace. Something that suits you, and just you. If you do that, you’ll be happy. Satisfied from within. And that’s when you’ll start doing well.

Your best performances will come when you start being … … yourself.

Playing someone else’s game? Well, try to. Don’t be surprised if you lose your pants.

Your biochemistry is unique. So are your reactions to subtle changes around you. Thus, your interactions and dialogues with Mrs. Market need to be unique. These need to cater to your needs, your queries, your tendencies and your idiosyncrasies.

We try to follow rules. We want to master Mrs. Market. Frankly, what a joke!

Firstly, we need to make our own rules, for ourselves.

Secondly, Mrs. Market needs to be understood, even if for short spans, and she most definitely doesn’t need to be mastered. She’ll master you rather than you her. Be wary of her, win from her, but why do you wish to conquer? Fool’s paradise. Stick to the script, pal. Take your winnings and go. Why do you bet the farm, in an effort to make a killing? You’re not proving any point to anyone. Everyone’s busy doing their own thing with Mrs. M. No one’s looking at you. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Don’t bet the farm. Stick to the script. Take your winnings and go.

So, what’s the real learning in this world we speak about?

When you go wrong. That’s when real learning begins. How do you handle yourself? How do you come back? How do you start winning again? How do you then keep winning, again, and again, and again.

That’s the learning.

I didn’t tell you so.

You discovered it for yourself.

Remember that.

Discover it for yourself.

What’re you waiting for?