The At-Par Point

One grapples with this one, …

…always.

There’s something about the at-par point.

No matter how much logic we try, when the at-par point arrives, logic fails.

Carrying a loser?

Determined to carry it through till 3x?

Wait till the at-par point arrives.

See how psychology changes.

Watch yourself liquidating the stock, despite all previous planning.

Happens all the time.

Carrying a winner?

Letting your profit run?

Underlying then falls to at-par?

Watch yourself liquidating at the speed of light.

It’s ok.

We’re humans, and aversion to loss is a human trait.

This aversion to loss makes us follow the dictates of the at-par point.

How do we go around this, as traders or investors?

Meaning, as we advance in our professions, we don’t wish to be dictated terms to by a particular “non-technical” and “artificially” psychological price point.

So, let’s try and find a workaround.

Underlying is winning. Raise your stop in a defined fashion.

When underlying starts falling, it will hit your stop.

At-par won’t be touched, so it doesn’t even come into the equation.

Underlying is down. Hmmm. What do we do here?

We really want to meet the at-par point here.

We’re desperate.

Convinced about the stock?

Average down.

The at-par point lowers.

When market conditions change, it arrives early.

Don’t wish to average down?

Not convinced about the stock anymore?

Wait.

At-par might or might not arrive.

Arrives?

Well and good.

Doesn’t arrive?

Look to exit as best as possible, if you’re tired of holding.

As investors, one can think about only getting into stocks where one is confident of averaging down if the stock falls. (Traders are suppose to cut trades at or around their stop).

Tweaking (lowering) the level of at-par helps faster recovery in the markets greatly.

Bonding

As Equity players…

…we enter the bond segment to…

conserve capital.

There is no other reason.

Return?

We do make a slightly better return than a fixed deposit.

We’re not in bonds to make a killing.

That is outlined for the Equity segment.

We’re Equity players, remember. 

I was just going through the top ten holdings of each of FT India’s now “discontinued” (new word for mini-insolvency?) debt funds. (I’m uncertain just now what word they’ve used, was it “stopped”? Or “halted”?) [Just looked up the internet, the words used are “winding up”].

My goodness! 

The fund managers in question wanted to outperform all other funds at the cost of asset-quality. 

Many of these top ten holdings (for six funds, one is looking at six top ten holdings) one would not even have heard of. 

A top ten holding constitutes the backbone of the mutual fund being studied. 

If the backbone is wobbly, the whole structure trembles upon wind exposure. 

This corona black swan is not a wind. It’s a long-drawn out cyclone, to fit the analogy. 

This particular structure has crumbled. 

Fund managers concerned have acted out of greed – that’s the only explanation for above top ten holdings. 

No other explanation comes to my mind. 

That they are also holding large chunks of Yes Bank and Vodafone is more an error in judgement, albeit a grave one. 

People commit errors in judgement.

Could one still overlook the a large chunk’s (10%?) segregation in FT India’s Debt folios, where Yes and Voda bonds have been marked down to zero?

Such a hit is huge in the debt segment.

Why are we in debt?

To conserve capital. 

10% hit in debt?

NO.

Wobbly top ten holdings?

NNOO!

Had no idea that the FT India debt portfolio had so many red-flags. 

Till they dropped the bombshell that they were discontinuing their six debt-funds, from last evening, one had no idea. 

Now that it’s dropped, one digs deep to understand their mistakes.

Why?

One doesn’t want to make the same mistakes. 

One doesn’t want to be invested in any funds in the debt segment which are making the same mistakes.

However, another look at their holdings reassures one that one won’t be making such mistakes, of greed, and of comprehensive failure to read managements and road conditions – in a hurry.

Nevertheless, one wishes to be aware.

Now that one is, all measures will be enhanced to prevent even an inkling of such an outcome for oneself. 

Wait up. 

Such measures were already in place. 

Greed? In bonds? 

We’re in bonds to conserve capital. 

No greed there. 

Top ten holdings?

Rock-solid. 

That’s the fundamental tenet one looks for while entering any mutual fund, whether in the debt or in the equity segment. 

We’re good. 

Are you Saying These are Small Losses, Mr. Nath?

No. 

Everything is taking a hit. 

Sure. 

Hit’s actually in the “Wealth” segment…

…and not as such in the “Income” segment.

Would you like to elaborate on this one, sounds pivotal?

Yes it is exactly that, pivotal. Because of this one fact, I’m talking to you with a straight face.

I see.

Auto-pilot income-creating avenues are still doing what they’re supposed to do, i.e. creating income. Nothing has changed there, yet.

You mean something could change there?

Sure, if companies start going bust, their bonds won’t create income. Instead, principal will take a hit. It’s not come to that yet, at least in India. You have an odd company going bust here and there now and then, but nothing major as of now. Income is intact, for now. If were done with CoVID in two months, this factor might not change. Let’s focus on this scenario. 

Right. 

Secondly, we’re highly liquid. We try and become as liquid as possible during good times, ideally aiming to be 80% in cash before a crisis appears. 

How do you know a crisis is going to appear?

This is the age of crises. A six sigma event has now become the norm. After Corona it will be something else. This has been going on from the time the stock market started. It’s nothing new. Come good times, we start liquidating all the stuff we don’t want. 

Don’t want?

Ya, one changes one’s mind about an underlying down the line. At this point, one shifts this underlying mentally into the “Don’t Want” category. Come good times, one makes the market exit oneself from this entity on a high.

Makes the market exit oneself?

Yes, through trigger-entry of sell order.

Why not just exit on limit?

Then you’ll just sell on the high of that particular day at best. However, through trigger-exit, your sell order will be triggered after a high has been made and the price starts to fall. It won’t be triggered if the underlying closes on a high. That way, if you’re closing on a high, you might get a good run the next day, and then you try the same strategy again, and again. In market frenzies, you might get a five to seven day run, bettering your exit by 15-20%, for example. Who wouldn’t like that?

You talk of market frenzies at a time like this, my dear Sir…

The market is like a rubber band. What were witnessing currently is the opposite pole of a market frenzy. Humans beings are bipolar. If they’re reacting like this, they sure as hell will react like the opposite pole when conditions reverse. Especially in India. We’re brimming with emotions. 

Which brings us back to the initial question…

Yes, these notional losses look huge. But, who’s translating them into actual losses? Not us. We’re busy enhancing our portfolios as multiples get more and more lucrative for purchase. That’s entirely where our focus is. We are numb to pain from the hit because our focus is so shifted. 

And there’s no worry?

With such high levels of liquidity, shift of focus, income tap on, dividend tap on – yeah, please don’t ignore the extra big incoming dividends, underlyings taking a hit currently are paying out stellar dividends, and these big amounts are entering our accounts, because we’ve bought such quality – – – we’re ok.

Stellar would be?

Many underlying have shared double digit dividend yields with their shareholders! That’s huge!

So no worries?

No! We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing, i.e. buying quality. We’ll keep getting extraordinary entries as the fall deepens. 

What if that takes a long-long time?

Well, the year is 2020. We’re all on speed-dial. 18 months in 2020 is like 15 years in 1929. Because we follow the small entry quantum strategy, our liquidity should hold out over such period, providing us entries through and through. 

And what if it’s a four digit bottom on the main benchmark, still no worries?

NO! Look at the STELLAR entry over there. A bluechip bought at that level of the benchmark can be held for life without worries. So yes, NO WORRIES.

Thanks Mr. Nath.

One more thing.

Yes, what’s that?

What’s my maximum downside in an underlying?

100%.

Correct. Now what’s my maximum upside in an underlying?

Ummm, don’t know exactly.

Unlimited. 

Unlimited?

Yes, unlimited. Entries at lucrative levels eventually translate into unreal multiples. Looking at things from this perspective, now, the size of these notional losses pales in comparison to potential return multiples. It’s a combination of psychology, fundamentals, mathematics and what have you. In comparison, these are still small losses. If we can’t take these swings in our side, we shouldn’t be in the markets in the first place, focusing our energies on avenues we’re good at instead.

Right, got it. 

Cheers, here’s wishing you safe and lucrative investing. 

🙂

Happy Ninth Birthday, Magic Bull!

Hey,
 
Just turned nine!
 
🙂
 
We’ve seen stuff…
 
…in these nine years.
 
What is our endeavour?
 
We’re in the business of creating wealth.
 
What is wealth?
 
It is something that multiplies over a period of time, …
 
…, perhaps over a long period of time.
 
Wealth affords one things – comfort, medicare, education, luxury, and what have you. So does surplus income, but wealth has the capacity to do this whilst keeping its principle value intact, taking care of our need, and still retaining a large surplus.
 
On the grass-root level, wealth is an idea.
 
Look at it as a multiplication matrix.
 
When we’re looking at money through the spectacles of this multiplication matrix, we’re looking to create wealth.
 
When we’re looking at money without using such spectacle framework, well, then we’re looking at sheer liquidity, income, surplus income / funds etc.
 
In this form, funds are spent, or put into an instrument which returns less than inflation. Funds are burnt over time, and over the long-term, their buying power takes a huge hit.
 
Wealth, on the other hand, returns way beyond inflation. Over the very long-term, returns can even be triple-digit per annum (not using the word “compounded” yet). Double-digit returns, per annum compounded (ya, using it now), are normal. 26% per annum compounded gives a 1000%+ return over 10 years (triple-digit per year)!
 
Wealth kills inflation, and then some, actually, and then lots!
 
The assimilation of wealth doesn’t necessarily follow a linear mathematics.
 
It is better to not look at this mathematics on a day to day basis.
 
Wealth is best created out of sight, out of mind.
 
Why?
 
During the journey to wealth, one needs conviction in one’s rock-solid research.
 
Observing day to day trajectory deviation makes one lose such conviction.
 
Worst-case scenario can be to interrupt the wealth-creation process, or to stop it altogether.
 
One encounters many colleagues on the road towards wealth-creation.
 
Sure, everyone wants in.
 
Who ends up creating wealth?
 
In other words, what’s the wealth-creation mind-set?
 
Our basics have been put in place, by us, laboriously, in the beginning.
 
As in, we have a basic income going. Our needs for the next couple of years are taken care of.
 
We’ve been pickling any incoming surplus away.
 
We don’t need to draw on it for a while, for reasons explained above.
 
Our research is rock-solid.
 
Our small entry quantum strategy has been fine-tuned thoroughly.
 
However, we’ll keep at it, tuning further as per requirement.
 
We believe in ourselves, our research and our strategy.
 
WE are going to end up creating wealth.
 
Holding on to wealth and seeing it through to its logical conclusion will be the next challange.
 
Great year ahead, Magic Bull!
 
🙂 🙂

My Buddy called Compounding

Compounding…

…is my happy space.

When I’m having a difficult market day,…

…I open my calculator…

…and start…

…compounding.

My friend clears all doubts in a flash.

It’s easy to compound on the calc.

In German they’d say “Pippifax”.

The younger tribe in the English-speaking world would say easy peasy…

…(lemon squeasy).

Let me run you through it.

Let’s say you wish to calculate an end amount after 25 years of compounding @ 9 % per annum.

Let z be the initial amount (invested).

The calculation is z * 1.09 ^25.

That’s it.

You don’t have to punch in 25 lines. It’s 1 line.

What if you went wrong on the 18th line?

So 1 line, ok? That’s all.

What’s ^ ?

This symbol stands for “to the power of”.

On your calculator, look for the y to power of x key, and then…

…punch in z * 1.09 (now press y to the power of x)[and then punch in 25].

What does such an exercise do for me?

Meaning, why does this exercise ooze endorphins?

Let’s say I’m investing in sound companies, with zero or very little debt, diligent and shareholder-friendly managements, and into a versatile product profile, looking like existing long into the future, basically meaning that I’m sound on fundamentals.

Let’s say that the stock is down owing to some TDH (TomDicK&Harry) reason, since that’s all it’s taking for a stock to plunge since the beginning of 2018.

I have no control over why this stock is falling.

Because of my small entry quantum strategy, I invest more as this fundamentally sound stock falls.

However, nth re-entry demands some reassurance, and that is given en-masse by the accompanying compounding exercise.

At the back of my mind I know that my money is safe, since fundamentals are crystal clear. At the front-end, Mr. Compounding’s reassurance allows me to pull the trigger.

Let’s run through a one-shot compounding exercise.

How much would a million invested be worth in thirty years, @ 11% per annum compounded.

That’s 1 * 1.11^30 = almost 23 million, that’s a 2300% return in 30 years, or 75%+ per annum non-compounded!

Now let’s say that my stock selection is above average. Let’s assume it is good enough to make 15% per annum compounded, over 30 years.

What’s the million worth now?

1 * 1.15^30 = about 66 million, whoahhh, a 6600% return in 30 years, or 220% per annum non-compounded.

Let’s say I’m really good, perhaps not in the RJ or the WB category, but let’s assume I’m in my own category, calling it the UN category. Let’s further assume that my investment strategy is good enough to yield 20% per annum compounded.

Ya. What’s happened to the million?

1 * 1.20^30 = about 237 million…!! 23700% in 30 years, or 790% per annum non-compounded…

…is out of most ballparks!!!

How can something like this be possible?

It’s called “The Power of Compounding”…,

…most famously so by Mr. Warren Buffett himself.

Try it out!

Pickle your surplus into investment with fundamentally sound strategy.

Sit tight.

Lo, and behold.

🙂

The Cue from Disturbia

I am disturbed. 

This stock that I’m invested in is continuing to fall. 

That’s ok.

I want to be disturbed. 

That’s my cue…

…to invest more in the stock.

I’m in the stock for a reason. 

Something appeals to me. 

That something continues to appeal to me, despite the continuous fall. 

If that were not the case, the case for the stock would be closed, and one would look to get rid of it on a market high. 

However, that is the case,…

…and, I follow the small entry quantum strategy.

Where does that leave me?

My investment in the stock is small.

I am liquid.

That’s the beauty of the small entry quantum strategy.

It leaves you liquid.

Continued fall means better margin of safety, and that another quantum can go in.

The small entry quantum strategy ensures multiple entry opportunities as the stock continues to generate margin of safety.

When do my ears stand up?

When the fall is disturbing enough. 

The fall is the cue to go in. 

It is from Disturbia. 

Who said making money was easy?

This strategy works as long as one’s research is sound. 

Let’s go with what works.

Multiples obey skewed mathematics

Income-oriented linear growth… 

… is single-digit. 

There’s something safe about it. 

It’s going to be there tomorrow, and after that. 

Safety means less return. 

You’re ok with that as far as basic income is concerned. 

Not so the case when it comes to wealth. 

With wealth, the multiple comes into play. 

Multiples dance to a different tune. 

The search for multiples can lead to negative return – for a while at least. 

It’s risky. 

The level of reward is coupled to a corresponding level of risk. 

In comes time. 

Wealth-play is palatable because of time not pushing you to the wall. 

With time on your side, the ingredients of your cooking-pot have ample opportunity to sprout and grow into big trees. 

If growth is not able to take off owing to lack of circumstance, this becomes the breeding ground for negative return. High deductibles add to the bleeding. After all, it’s wealth you’re seeking to generate, and there will be a little blood. 

Such is the game. 

If you can’t stomach the ride till the multiples emerge, play the income-game full-time instead. 

However, once you start to digest the wealth-game, you realize that is really quite headache-free and pretty much an auto-pilot avenue. 

You’ll even start to like it when the first multiples emerge! 

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. 

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 : 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. 

The CC

Done it again.

Introducing…

…the…

…Constitutional Comparative (CC). 

It’s in our constitutions…to compare. 

We exhibit the constitutional comparative by default…

…and we need to expunge this trait from our DNA…

…which takes time…

…but can be done, with determination and practice. 

Each one of us is unique, and we’ve come to do unique things. 

Some blossom early. 

Some blossom late. 

Some don’t blossom at all, or so it seems. Turns out later, their sole purpose in life was to provide stabilizing energy to their environment. They became activated from the womb, and they deactivated upon death. There was no question of blossoming at a certain time. You could also say, that they blossomed their whole life long. 

SEE?

Don’t compare. 

You can’t see the wheels within wheels just like that. 

Seeing wheels within wheels takes insight, penance and an appropriate state of mind. Therefore, if you really must compare, at least graduate to that state of mind first, where you possess the capability to see wheels within wheels in action. 

Or, if graduating to this state of mind is not worth your while, well, fine, no probs, but…

…DON’T COMPARE then…please. 

Live your life. 

Do what you’ve come to do. 

If you don’t know what you’ve come to do, well, FIND OUT. 

HOW?

Go within. 

Talk to yourself. Yeah, it’s not crazy to talk to yourself. 

In solitude come phenomenal solutions. 

You realise who you are…

…and what you’ve come to do. 

In a crowd, such finer points get lost, in the noise. 

And, why all this on a blog which has to do with finance?

Well, you can only invest properly if you’ve found yourself first. 

If you know who you are, you’ll also invest like who you are, as per your risk profile. 

A portfolio put together with the knowledge of your own risk profile will last you long, and will give you good returns for life. 

🙂

 

 

Impedimenting

Market strategy often sounds ridiculous. 

Take impedimenting for example. 

You put impediments in your own path. 

Absurd?

No. 

Uselful?

Very.

Why?

Because we are human. We are full of behavioural quirks which invariably cause market losses. 

That’s why impediments. 

Where?

In your path?

Why in your path?

Who are these impediments meant for?

They are speed-breakers for your quirks. 

Because your quirks are inside of you, the breakers are in your path, put by you, not for yourself, but for your quirks, when these choose to expose themselves. 

1). One example – money transfer before market entry – there’s no beneficiary added. Ha. You need to add the beneficiary first and wait for it to be approved. Then you transfer money to your other account, which is linked to your transaction account. Impediments. 

Why have you done this? You don’t wish to enter anything on a whim. Whenever money moves, it’s movement should not be made easy. You’ve seen to it. Good. 

2). Example numero two – Calls Blacklist. Make it very difficult for market people to speak to you if you don’t wish to speak to them. Why? Bias. You don’t want their bias. You have limited time. You have your own opinion. Many times during market-play, there’s no room for another opinion. 

3). Doing the DD (due diligence) – don’t act without DD. Make the DD huge. Have steps and procedures which you are going to follow – period. When you shudder at the idea of DD, that’s when DD becomes an impediment. You want the upcoming DD to make you shudder. You don’t wish to enter the underlying on a whim, remember?

4). Don’t discuss your portfolio – with anyone. YOU DON’T WANT ANYONE’S BIAS. You are mentally diligent enough to build your own opinion. People asking for causal tips are going to bother you. You need to impediment your way away from these. 

5). Systems – make systems. Stick to them. They cost time. They are impedimenting. Good. While a system engulfs you, it gets the chance to scour your approach for mistakes. Your system will alert you, so it’s been worth it. 

6). Blockage – new funds are to be blocked for a while. Don’t act with new funds immediately. Give yourself ample time to decide your strategy with new funds. Pickle them away in a fixed deposit till you are sure what you want to do with them. 

Make your own list. Above are just examples, and yeah, there’s more, but double yeah, make your own list. 

Working with self-made speed-breakers to enhance your performance makes you grow. 

Your returns grow too. 

What’s the Intrinsic Value of Inflation – FOR YOU?

Pundits taught about Inflation.

It ate into you.

Did it discriminate?

Nope?

Did life discriminate?

Or was it your Karma?

So you made it to HNI, without perhaps knowing what HNI stands for.

You’re a high networth investor, bully for you.

Here’s a secret. You’re not really bothered too much about Inflation.

What?

Yeah. Don’t bother too much about it. 

Why?

It’s eating into you, given, right. 

By default, you need to look into something that’s eating into you, right?

Well, right, and then, well, wrong. 

You had a hawk-eye on inflation till you made it to HNI. Well done, correct approach.

Now, you’re gonna just use your energies for other purposes, for example for asset allocation, fund-parking patience, opportunity scouting, due diligence – to name just a few avenues. 

Why aren’t you using even a minuscule portion of your energies to bother about the effects of inflation?

Well, simply because it’s not worth the effort – FOR YOU – now that you’re an HNI. 

Sure, inflation will eat into you. However, the way you handle your surplus funds will defeat its effects and then some, many times over. Use your energies to maximise this particular truth. 

What makes you an HNI? Surplus funds to invest, right?

Surplus sits. 

It waits for opportunities. 

An entry at an opportune moment gives maximum returns.

You’ve sifted through the Ponzis. You’ve isolated multi-bagger investments. You’re waiting for the right entry. 

Meanwhile, old Infleee is eating a few droplets of your wad. Let it. Focus on what we’ve discussed. A multi-bagger investment entered into at the sweet-spot could well make ten times of what old Infleee eats up. 

Go for it. 

Harnessing FD-Power within your Meta-Game

Everyone’s heard of fixed deposits (FDs). 

Are they so non-lucrative?

I believe that in some countries, you need to pay the bank to hold a fixed deposit for you. 

Why does our system shun savings? 

What are savings, actually?

On-call cash. Ready for you when an opportunity arises. 

That’s exactly it. The system doesn’t want you to have ready cash when an opportunity is there. 

Why?

Because finance people have already dibsed on your cash. They want it when opportunity is there. The cash should be available to their institution, not to you.

That’s why, your bankers generally try and get you to commit whatever spare cash floats in your account. They try for commitment towards non-access for a specific period of time.

I don’t know how things are in other parts of the world, but in India, a fixed deposit is still considered ready cash, because one can nullify one’s FD online, in a few seconds. Some banks charge a penalty for such nullification, but this penalty is charged on the interest generated, not on the principal. Therefore, in India, you have access to at least your FD principal (plus a part of the interest generated) when you really need it, all within a few seconds. 

What’s the meta-game here?

You “lock” your money in an FD for one year, for example. Let’s suppose that within that one year, no opportunity arises for you. You cash out with full interest. In India, as of now, if you’re in the top taxation bracket, and are a senior citizen, you’re still left with a return of between 6.6%-6.8% after tax, whereby we are not looking at the effects of inflation here, to keep the example simple, though I know, that we must look at inflation too. We’ll go into inflation some other day. 

Meanwhile, your FD has been on call, for you. Let’s assume that a lucrative investment opportunity does arise within the year, and your break your FD after 6 months, reducing earned interest to 4% annualised from 9.5-9.75% p.a. However, your investment yields you 20% after tax, because it was made at the most opportune moment.

You do the math.

Do you see the inherent power of ready money?

Your FD has thus worked for you in multiple ways. 

It has worked as an interest-generator, yielding a small return. Simultaneously, it has worked as ready cash, on-call in case of opportunity. Should the opportunity arise, and if the investment that follows works out well, a handsome return could be made. It’s all should/could/would in a meta-game. 

There is yet another way FDs are used. I use them this way. 

FDs are a safety-net. They allow you to take high risks elsewhere. You lose the fear of high risk once you know that your family is secured through your safety-net. In a safety-net, sums are large enough and deposits are regular enough to discount (actually effectively / realistically nullify) the power of inflation. With the haven of a safety-net going for your family, you can enter high-risk arenas fearlessly. Fearlessness is a perquisite to do well in high-risk arenas. If you’re afraid of loss, don’t enter such areas. Safety-nets make you lose your fear of loss elsewhere. 

People – SAVE! 

Create FDs. Don’t listen to your bankers. Commit your money to an uncompromisable lock-in only if you’re convinced that the investment is safe and really worth the lock-in for you. Harness the power of the FD for yourself. A safety-net of FDs is the first step towards the formulation of a profitable meta-game.

Did you also know that when you create an FD, the money used to create the FD doesn’t show up as ready cash in your account. Bank accounts with large amounts of ready cash over long periods of time are like red flags which online fraudsters look for. Creation of FDs gives extra online safety to your money. 

ONLY you are responsible for your money.

Start looking after it. 

Start making it grow.

Start saving. 

NOW.

We Like to Move it Move it

We do our home-work.

We know our risk-profile.

Our systems are in place. 

We know the exact market-segments we are tapping into, and those we are leaving alone. 

Our fund-allocation profile is at the back of our palms. We know where what is, and when. We know how to move it. 

In our identified segment of activity, we have a feel for the underlying. We can sense it. We don’t need to preempt the underlying, but we can if we want to. 

We are not afraid of small loss. It can happen again, and again, and again, as far as we are concerned. 

We use stops. Definition of risk is our abc. 

We try not to follow news. It gives us a bias. We trade the setup we are observing on the chart of the underlying. Everything else is “egal”, as they say in German, as far as the trade is concerned. We are not going to be biased while trading. We are going to take the setup, in whichever direction it presents itself. 

We are nice to our families. We gel with them, and have enough time for them. We are happy in their company. They are not a distraction to our work, but a welcome change. We’ve got a substantial-sized emergency fund going for them, which more than takes care of their needs. This fund generates regular incomes for our families, and we don’t touch the emergency fund, come what may. We might keep adding to it, though. 

We take high risks with a very small size of our networths, everyday. Our risks are calculated, and can generate high returns. They can also result in total losses. We practise sound money-management, and put ourselves in line for big profits, again, and again and again. 

Yeah, we like to move it move it …

… from one trade setup to another, to another, to yet another, an so on and so forth. 

The Path

You’re just two steps away…

… from success in finance.

Don’t follow anyone.

Use your common-sense.

That’s all it takes.

Use your nose to sniff out trouble.

Use your eyes to identify Ponzi billboards, with promises of 12%+ returns. Use your hands to push away the Ponzis, or your feet to kick them out of your office.

Shut your ears to the external world. No tips, no rumours. Use your ears to hear the sound of your own intuition. Yes, use them to hear your inner voice. Correct, this is about you. You and only you bear full responsibility for your finances and well-being.

As and when you identify the taste of success, you might realize the following.

Success doesn’t taste sweet without appropriate struggle. To really know, feel and retain something, the human being must know and feel the opposite pole first.

What matters in the end?

Meaning, after you’ve gotten your success, and are sitting on top of things?

Yeah, what matters then?

Any ideas?

The path you took. That’s what matters.

Your path has shaped your soul.

Success is a mere statistic.

The real game was played on the path.

Did you enjoy the path?

Did you enjoy it despite the struggle?

Did it challenge you?

Did you learn something?

Did you grow?

Did you stop to smell the flowers while on the path?

Did you help others who were struggling with their paths, even as you were coming to terms with your own path?

Did your path fulfill you?

Did it give you the feeling of “Yes, I’ve done something”?

Did it make you happy?

These are the factors that really matter.

They make your grade in the path called life.

Enjoy your path. It’s nature’s gift to you, whereas…

… success is a mere statistic.

Where to, Mr. Nath?

Last month, I scrapped my market-play system.

Happens.

Systems are made to be scrapped later.

One can always come up with a new system.

I love working on a new system.

It’s challenging.

What I want to talk to you about is why I scrapped my last system.

I found four accounting frauds, as I did my market research, all online.

You see, my last system worked well with honest accounting.

It had no answer to accounting frauds.

Also, I got disillusioned.

Are we a nation of frauds?

How does one deal with a nation of frauds?

More importantly, how does one play such a nation?

Does one invest in it? Or, does one sheer trade it?

Questions, questions and more questions. These encircle my mind as I work to put my new system together.

I am in no hurry to come up with an answer. A country like India deserves a befitting answer, and that it will get, even if the sky comes down on me while I put my system together.

Slowly, I started to think. How many systems had I scrapped before?

Hmmm, four or five, give or take one or two.

I have an uncompromising market rule of going fully liquid when I scrap a system.

Full liquidity is a tension-tree state. It allows one to think freely and in an unbiased manner. Being invested during volatility impedes one’s ability to think clearly and put a new system together.

Ok, so what answer would my new system have towards fraud?

All along, it was very clear to me that future market activity would be in India itself. Where else does one get such volatility? I am learning to embrace volatility. It is the trader’s best friend.

Right, so, what’s the answer to fraud?

Trading oriented market play – good. Not much investing, really. First thoughts that come to mind.

Buying above supports. Selling below resistances. Only buying above highs in rare cases, and trailing such buys with strict stops. Similarly , only selling below lows in even rarer cases, and again, trailing such sells with strict stops.

Trading light at all times.

Fully deploying the bulk of one’s corpus into secure market avenues like bonds and arbitrage. You see, bonds in India are not toxic. Well, not yet, and with hawks like the RBI and SEBI watching over us, it might take a while before they turn toxic. If and when they do start turning toxic, we’ll be getting out of them, there’s no doubt about that. Till they’re clean, we want their excellent returns, especially as interest rates head downwards. In India, one can get out of bond mutual funds within 24 hrs, with a penalty of a maximum of 1 % of the amount invested. Bearable. The top bond funds have yielded about 13 – 15% over the last 12 months. So, that 1% penalty is fully digestible, believe me.

With the bulk of one’s returns coming from secure avenues, small amounts can be traded. Trade entries are to be made when the odds are really in one’s favour. When risk is high, entry is to be refrained from. A pure and simple answer to fraud? Yes!

You see, after a certain drop, the price has discounted all fraud and then some. That’s one’s entry price for the long side. On the short side, after a phenomenal rise, there comes a price which no amount of goodness in a company can justify and then some. That’s the price we short the company at.

Of course it’s all easier said than done, but at least one thing’s sorted. My outlook has changed. Earlier, I used to fearlessly buy above highs and short below lows. I am going to be more cautious about that now. With fraud in the equation, I want the odds in my favour at all times.

These are the thoughts going on in my mind just now. Talking about them helps them get organized.

You don’t have to listen to my stuff.

I’m quite happy talking to the wall.

Once these words leave me, there’s more space in my system – a kind of a vacuum.

A vacuum attracts flow from elsewhere.

What kind of a flow will my vacuum attract?

Answers will flow in from the ether.

Answers to my burning questions.

Can Anyone Match Our Financial Sentinels?

It was the aftermath of ’08.

There was blood everywhere.

In my desperation to get a grip on things, I was about to make yet another blunder.

The Zurich International Life pitch had found its way into my office through a leading private bank.

The pitch was fantastic.

I got sucked in.

Access to more than 150 mutual funds world wide…

No switching fee…

Switch as many times as you want…

Joining bonus…

Premium holiday after 18 months…

I quickly signed the documents.

What remained cloudy during the pitch was the 10-year lock-in.

Also, nobody mentioned that the exit penalty was exorbitant. I mean, as I later found out, the level of the exit penalty would make Shylock look like JP Morgan.

In the pitch, I found myself hearing that one could exit after 18 months upon payment of 9% interest p.a. on the joining bonus.

Nobody mentioned the full management fees, which I later calculated to be a staggering approximate of 7.75% per annum for myself, since I had opted for a premium holiday as soon as I could.

I mean, when about 7.75% was being deducted from your corpus each year, what in the world was the corpus going to generate? I found myself asking this question after four years of being trapped in the scheme.

I had soon realized that the pitchers had lied in the pitch. In the fine-print, there was no such clause saying that one could exit after 18 months upon payment of 9% interest p.a. on the joining bonus. If I escalated the matter, at least three people would lose their jobs. Naehhh, that was not my style. I let it go.

When I would look at interim statements, the level of deductions each time made me suspect that there were switching fees after all. I could never really attribute the deductions to actual switches, though, because the statements would straight-away show the number of mutual fund units deducted as overall management fees. If there were switching fees, they were getting hidden under the rug of management fees. Since the level of overall fees was disturbing me totally, I had this big and nagging suspicion that they were deducting something substantial for the switches, and were not showing this deduction openly in their statements.

When I compared all this to how Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) were handled in my own country, I was amazed at the difference.

In India, customer was king.

The customer had full access to the investment platform, and could switch at will from his or her own remote computer. Zurich did not allow me such direct access.

The expense-ratio in India was a paltry 1.5% – 2.0% per annum. Compare this to the huge annual deductions made in the case of my Zurich International Life policy.

Lock-ins in India were much lesser, typically three odd years or so.

Some ULIPs in India allowed redemptions during lock-ins, coupled with penalties, while others didn’t. Penalties were bearable, and typically in the 2 – 5 % (of corpus) range. Those ULIPs that did allow such redemptions only did so towards the latter part  of the lock-in, though. Nevertheless, lock-in periods were not long when compared to ten whole years, during which the whole world can change.

The debt-market funds paid out substantially larger percentages as interest in India when compared to the debt-market funds encompassed by Zurich International Life.

In India, deductions from ULIP premiums in the first few years (which were getting lesser and lesser each year due to legislature-revision by the authorities) were off-set by absence of short-term capital gains tax and entry/exit equity commissions upon excessive switching. This meant, that in India, short-term traders could use the ULIP avenue to trade without paying taxes or commissions. Whoahh, what a loop-hole! [I’m sure the authorities would have covered this loop-hole up by now, because this research was done a few years ago.]

ULIPs in India allowed at least 4 switches per annum that were totally free of cost. After that, switches would be charged at a very nominal flat rate of typically about the value of 2-9 USD per switch, which, frankly, is peanuts. I was suspecting that the Zurich fellows were knocking off upto 1% of the corpus per switch, but as I said, I didn’t see the math on paper. Even if I was wrong, their yearly deductions were too large to be ignored. Also, was I making a mistake in furthermore deducing that Zurich was deducting another 1% from the corpus each time the corpus changed its currency? I mean, there was no doubt in my mind that the Indian ULIP industry was winning hands-down as far as transparency was concerned.

In India, people in ULIP company-offices were accessible. You got a hearing. Yeah. Zurich International Life, on the other hand, was registered in the Isle of Man. Alone the time difference put an extra day (effectively) between your query and action. Anyways, all action enjoyed a T+2 or a T+3 at Zurich’s end, and the extra day made it a T+4 if you were unlucky (Indian ULIPs moved @ T+0, fyi & btw). Apart from the T+x, one could only access officials at Zurich through the concerned private bank, and as luck would have it, ownership at this private bank changed. The new owners were not really interested in pursuing dead third-party investments made by their predecessors, and thus, reaching Zurich could have become a huge problem for me, were it not for my new relationship manager at this private bank, who was humanitarian, friendly and a much needed blessing.

By now, I had decided to take a hit and exit. It would, however, be another story to get officials at Zurich to cooperate and see the redemption through. On her own level, and through her personal efforts, my diligent relationship manager helped me redeem my funds from Zurich International Life.  I am really thankful to her. Due to her help, my request for redemption was not allowed to be ignored / put-off till a day would dawn where really bad exit NAVs would apply. Zurich did have the last laugh, knocking off a whopping 30 odd percent off my corpus as exit penalty (Arghhh / Grrrrr)! Since I had managed to stay afloat at break-even despite all deductions made in the four years I was invested, I came out of the investment 30% in the hole. The moment it returned, the remaining 70% was quickly shifted to safe instruments yielding 10%+ per annum. In a few years, my corpus would recover. In less than 4 years, I would recover everything. In another two, I would make up a bit for inflation. Actually, the main thing I was gaining was 6 remaining years of no further tension because of my Zurich International Life policy. This would allow me to approach the rest of my portfolio tension-free.

The Zurich International Life policy had been the only thorn in my portfolio – it was my only investment that was disturbing me.

I had taken a hit, but I had extracted and destroyed the thorn.

It was a win for the rest of my portolio, i.e. for 90%+ of my total funds. Tension-free and full attention heightens the probability of portfolio prosperity.

Yeah, sometimes a win comes disguised as a loss.

When I look back, I admire the Indian financial authorities, who ensure that the Indian retail customer is treated like a king.

Retail customers in other parts of the world receive very ordinary treatment in comparison.

I know this from first-hand experience.

I don’t plan to invest overseas as long as our financial authorities continue to push such discipline into our financial industry.

I don’t often praise too much in India, but where it is due, praise must emanate from the mouth of a beneficiary. We are where we are because of our fantastic financial sentinels!

Three cheers for the Securities and Exchange Board of India, for the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, and, of course, three cheers and a big hurray for the Reserve Bank of India.

A Chronology of Exuberance

The biggest learning that the marketplace imparts is about human emotions.

Yeah, Mrs. Market brings you face to face with fear, greed, exuberance, courage, strength, arrogance … you name it.

You can actually see an emotion developing, real-time.

Today, I’d like to talk about the chronology of exuberance.

In the marketplace, I’ve come face to face with exuberance, and I’ve seen it developing from scratch.

When markets go up, eventually, fear turns into exuberance, which, in turn, drives the markets even higher.

What is the root of this emotion?

The ball game of exuberance starts to roll when analysts come out with a straight face and recommend stocks where the valuations have already crossed conservative long-term entry levels. As far as the analysts are concerned, they are just doing their job. They are paid to recommend stocks, round the year. When overall valuations are high, they still have to churn out stock recommendations. Thus, analysts start recommending stocks that are over-valued.

Now comes the warp.

At some stage, the non-discerning public starts to treat these recommendations as unfailing cash-generating  opportunities. Greed makes the public forget about safety. People want a piece of the pie. With such thoughts, the public jumps into the market, driving it higher.

For a while, things go good. People make money. Anil, who hadn’t even heard of stocks before, is suddenly raking in a quick 50Gs on a stock recommendation made by his tobacco-seller. Veena raked in a cool 1L by buying the hottest stock being discussed in her kitty party. Things are rolling. Nothing can go wrong, just yet.

Thousands of Anils and Veenas make another 5 to 6 rocking buys and sells each. With every subsequent buy, their capacity increases more and more. Finally, they make a big and exuberant leap of faith.

There is almost always a catalyst in the markets at such a time, when thousands make a big and exuberant leap of faith into the markets, like a really hot IPO or something (remember the Reliance Power IPO?).

Yeah, people go in big. The general consensus at such a time is that equity is an evergreen cash-cow. A long bull run can do this to one’s thinking. One’s thinking can become warped, and one ceases to see one’s limits. One starts to feel that the party will always go on.

Now comes the balloon-deflating pin-prick in the form of some bad news. It can be a scandal, or a series of bad results, or some political swing, or what have you. A deflating market can collapse very fast, so fast, that 99%+ players don’t have time to react. These players then rely on (hopeful) exuberance, which reassures them that nothing can go wrong, and that things will soon be back to normal, and that their earnings spree has just taken a breather. Everything deserves a breather, they argue, and stay invested, instead of cutting their currently small losses, which are soon going to become big losses, very, very big losses.

The markets don’t come back, for a long, long time.

Slowly, exuberance starts dying, and is replaced by fear.

Fear is at its height at the bottom of the markets, where maximum number of participants cash out, taking very large hits.

Exuberance is now officially dead, for a very long time, till, one day, there’s a brand new set of market participants who’ve never seen the whole cycle before, supported by existing participants who’ve not learnt their lessons from a past market-cycle. With this calibre of participation, markets become ripe for the re-entry of exuberance.

Wiser participants, however, are alert, and are able to recognize old wine packaged in a new bottle. They start reacting as per their designated strategies for exactly this kind of scenario. The best strategy is to trade the markets up, as far as they go. Then, you can always trade them down. Who’s stopping you? Shorting them without any signals of weakness is wrong, though. Just an opinion; you decide what’s wrong or right for you. The thing with exuberance is, that it can exercise itself for a while, a very long while – longer than you can stay solvent, if you have decided to short the markets in a big way without seeing signs of weakness.

At market peaks, i.e at over-exuberant levels, long-term portfolios can be reviewed, and junk can be discarded. What is junk? That, which at prevailing market price is totally, totally overvalued – that is junk.

Formulate your own strategy to deal with exuberance.

First learn to recognize it.

Then learn to deal with it.

For success as a trader, and also as an investor, you will not be able to circumvent dealing with exuberance.

Best of luck!

Three Ways to Double Down

To win big as a trader, one needs to understand and implement a strategy of doubling down when things are looking good.

The difference between mediocre success and mega-success as a trader is linked to a trader’s ability to double down at the proper time.

We’ve discussed position-sizing. That’s one way to double down.

A day-trader, or a very short-term trader has the luxury of seeing one trade culminate and the next trade start off after the first one culminates at its logical conclusion. For most longer-term traders, many trades can be occurring simultaneously, because started trades have not yet come to their logical end, and new opportunities have cropped up before trades commenced have come to their logical end.

What do such traders do? I mean, they do not know the final outcome of the preceeding trades.

Yeah, how could such traders position-size properly?

Well, a trade might not have come to its logical conclusion, but you do know how much profit or loss you are sitting on at any given point of time. The calculation of the traded value for the next trade is simply a function of this profit or loss you are sitting on. Simple, right?

Well, what if you don’t like to position-size in that manner?

What if you say, that here I am, and I’ve finally identified a scrip that is moving, and that I’m invested in it, and am sitting on a profit. Now that I know that this scrip is moving, I’d like to invest more in this very scrip.

Good thinking. Nothing wrong at all with the thinking process.

You now pinpoint a technical level for second entry into the scrip. Once your level is there, you go in. No heavy or deep thinking required. As a trader, you are now accustomed to plunging after trade identification and upon setup arrival.

Question is, how much do you go in with?

Is your second entry a position-sized new trade? Or, do you see how much profit you are sitting on, and enter with the exact amount of profit you are sitting on? The latter approach is called pyramiding, by the way. Pyramiding is a close cousin of position-sizing. Normally, one speaks about pyramiding into one very scrip, when the trader buys more of that very scrip after showing a profit in that scrip. Once could, however, also pyramid one’s profits into different scrips.

When you’re pyramiding into one very scrip, you’re putting many eggs in one basket. Right, the risk of loss is higher. The thing going for you is that this risk for loss is higher at a time when your profits are up in a scrip that’s on its way up. Therefore, the risk during a downslide is higher, but the probability of that risk’s ability to result in an overall loss for you is lower than normal. You understand that you have balanced your risk equation, and with that understanding, you don’t have a problem putting many eggs in the same basket. After all, it’s a basket you are watching closely. Yeah, you know your basket inside out. You are mentally and strategically prepared to take that higher risk.

There’s yet another way to double down. I’d like to call this the “stubborn-bull trading approach”.

Let’s say you are sitting on a profitable trade. Yeah, let’s say you are deep in the money.

Now, a safe player would start raising the stop as the scrip in question keeps going higher and higher.

On the other hand, a trader with an appetite for risk could risk more and more in the scrip as it keeps going higher and higher – by not raising the stop, till a multibagger is captured. On the other hand, this trader would also be setting him- or herself up to give back hard-earned profits. Yeah, no risk – no gain.

What’s the difference between the stubborn-bull trading approach (SBTA) and investing?

When you’re adopting the SBTA, you’ll cut the trade once it loses more than your stop. You’ll sit on it stubbornly only after it has shown you multibagger-potential, let’s say by being up 20-50% in a very short time. You’ll keep sitting on it stubbornly till your pre-determined two-bagger, three-bagger or x-bagger target-level is reached. After that, you’ll start raising the stop aggressively, as the scrip goes still higher. Eventually, the market will throw you out of your big winning trade. You see, the SBTA strategy is very different from an investment strategy. For starters, your entry into this scrip has been at a trading level, not at an undervalued investment level. Undervalued scrips normally don’t start dancing about like that immediately.

Let’s be very clear – to reap big profits in the long run, you, as a trader, will need to adopt at least one of these doubling down strategies – position-sizing, pyramiding and / or the stubborn-bull trading approach.

Have a profitable trading day / week / month / career! 🙂