Personal Long-Term Investing Isn’t about Establishing a Mutual Fund

If it were the case, why bother?

Just put your money in a mutual fund instead. 

There are many competent fully equity-oriented mutual funds out there. 

Some of the competent ones have very reasonable expense ratios and eye-popping statistics. 

Investing in a mutual fund takes away your work-load completely. 

You put in the money for the longish-term, and then you’re done. Don’t bother for the next 5 years. 

If you’ve chose the dividend payout option, you get an SMS or an email maybe once or twice a year that puts a smile on your face. It’s a payout!

What is a mutual fund?

What’s so mutual about it?

You mutually agree to what the fund manager is doing. 

Thus, make sure that the fund-manager is competent. Study the fund-manager’s track-record. 

A mutual fund typically consists of 50-75 stocks. Some are weighted heavily, some more lightly. 

The return you get is the mathematical average of the 50-75 stocks, adjusted for the weight they carry. 

It would suffice here to say, that the MF delivers some kind of an average return, less all kinds of fees, which typically range around the 2.5% mark per annum. 

Therefore, as far as returns are concerned, after tax deductions, one is probably left with a high single-digit one or a low double-digit one, in the long run, compounded. 

Not too bad.

Remember, this is equity we are talking about. Equity is an asset-class which gives returns that are adjusted for inflation. 

Actually, great. 

Those of you who are satisfied with this need not read any further. Just go ahead and put your surplus funds into MFs.

However, some of us want that extra kick. We are not satisfied with low single digits. We want 15%+, per annum compounded, after tax and adjusted for inflation. 

This is not greed. 

Ambition perhaps. 

Drive. 

Renumeration requirement for the arduous work put in. 

We’ve struggled. 

We’ve gotten hit many, many times. Each time, we’ve stood up, taken the hit, and carried on.

We have learnt. 

All for what?

Now it’s time to cash-in.

We go about setting up our long-term portfolios in the proper fashion. 

Total number of stocks eventually in the portfolio needs to be well clear of the MF mark…otherwise, right, why bother.

MF-type diversification will give an average return. 

We will build a focus portfolio. 

Focused returns are higher in the long run.

What’s the magic number?

Well clear of 50-75 stocks in all is understood. For me, even 40 is too much. I could deal with 30, though. Hmmm, let’s steer clear of the 3 in 30, so 29 is good enough for me as a maximum. The pundits are satisfied with 15-20 stocks, no more. Focus-gurus swear by 10-15 stocks. I’m ok with a maximum of 29, (a limit I’ve not reached yet) because in reality, I just hold 6 sectors, and multiple underlyings within the sectors. Thus, even with a maximum like 29, the 6 sectors alone make it a focused portfolio. 

The bottom-line is focus. 

As long-term investors doing it ourselves, we are going to focus. 

Staggered entry. 

Small entry quantum each time, many, many times. 

How small?

Small enough, such that one can enter about 30 or so times in a year and still have ample savings on the side from one’s earnings. Why 30 or so? That’s a rough 10-year average calculated per annum, estimated by me, during which one gets margin of safety in the 220 days or so that the markets are open in the year.

There we are : focus-investing, margin of safety, staggered entry, many, many entries, small entry quantum each time and generation of ample savings despite equity exposure. 

Is that a formula or is that a formula?

🙂

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What’s bothering you today?

Get it out of the way.

Why?

Bother takes a toll. 

Focus goes away. 

You don’t wish to see your trade. 

That’s a pathetic condition to be in…

…as a trader. 

When you’re in a trade…

…you need to monitor the trade. 

How will you monitor a trade…

…if you don’t feel like looking at your screen?

What’s causing your indifference?

Bio-chemistry. 

Resulting from?

The spot of bother.

That’s why, get it out of the way.

Trade gone wrong?

Kill it.

Spouse problem?

Address it.

Child matter.

Deal with it.

Bring your environment to an immediate logical conclusion…

…if you can.

Why?

You’ll trade like a king…

…or a queen…

… whatever title you prefer. 

You’ll see clearly. 

You’ll want to open your terminal. 

Your ideology will be aligned with your trade. 

You’ll be making money. 

That’s why. 

Going for the Multiple 

Relax. 

We’re not going for the jugular. 

Or are we? 

The jugular has the most copious flow. 

Maybe we are then… 

… going for the jugular. 

However, there’s no stabbing happening. 

We do everything from the inside of our comfort-zone.

We act with harmony. 

Balance. 

Focus. 

Intelligence. 

Common-sense. 

We try and be non-violent about it. 

What are we doing? 

We’re looking to create wealth. 

What makes us look? 

Security. Our basic income secures us. 

Boredom. Adding to our basic income has become boring. 

Overflow. As basic income starts to overflow, it needs a long-term avenue in which it doesn’t demand our constant attention. 

Fine. 

What’s the best way… 

… to go about it?

Where there’s honey, there are bees. 

Finance-people find you. You have money. They have investments. For finance-people, you are bread and butter. 

So, you sit. 

You wait. 

You let them come. 

You’ve got discriminatory-ability. 

You sift. 99% of what comes goes into the bin. 

You like 1%. 

You invest in that 1%.

How much? 

Whatever you pre-define as your per-annum outflow into wealth-creation. 

Only that much. 

What then? 

What’s the bottom-line? 

What’s your holding strategy? 

Nothing. 

You sit. 

The biggest money is made…

…while sitting.”

You’re not even looking at your long-term investment more than once a month. 

You’re not interested in daily quotes.

The daily quote can say zero. You don’t care. You know that you are in the process of creating wealth, and that it’s going to take long, and within that period you don’t care if the world thinks your holding is zero, because you know it isn’t. 

Why? 

Due-diligence. 

Ability to think differently. 

Ability to see wealth in its nascent stage, and to recognize it. 

You have these things. 

They didn’t come for free. 

You took some solid hits to earn them. 

Yeah, you have what it takes, and that’s why… 

… you’re going for the multiple. 

The Thing with Focus

Depth. 

Confidence. 

Proper entry. 

Decent exit, if required. 

Understanding. 

Lack of panic. 

Overall picture. 

These are some of the things that focus is capable of giving. 

Swagger? 

One-basket attitude. 

Over-depth. 

Narrow-mindedness. 

Loss of overall picture due to over-chewing one subject. 

Robotic mindset leading to freeze. 

Yeah, these too. Within the capabilities of focus. 

We want the former qualities. 

We’re discarding the latter ones. If they come knocking at our doorstep, we’re shooing them away. 

We spoke about diversified focus. 

Whatever we do in life, let’s do it well. 

We’ll have our many baskets. Why should we take the risk of having just one basket? 

And, into our many baskets, we’ll delve deep-deep-deep. 

Period. 

How not to let something be on auto-nag

Clutter-up.

Simple solution.

Have lots of things going.

This way, one thing won’t have the power to nag.

We humans reminisce.

We go into nitty-gritty.

We worry.

We thus waste our time and an otherwise perfect present.

That’s us.

However, we can condition. We can change.

That’s also us.

One small activity is over, and the other one should start. Prequisite is that the former activity has been closed properly, even if temporarily.

Yeah, no in-between time to ruminate about how well or badly the preceeding activity went.

New activity brings its own challenge. It first shifts and then rivets our focus.

Carry this mindset over, to your professional life.

That’s all you need to do.

Go for it.

🙂

Focused Diversification : Mantra for all Times

I’m more into focus.

One can focus on one thing at a time.

Agreed.

What if after that one thing starts running, it doesn’t require any more focus?

Wow.

Then I focus on another thing.

Get it running.

Then another.

Till my focus window is full.

Let me tell you about my focus window.

I focus on cash, debt, equity, forex, gold, real-estate, arbitrage, and options.

With that, my professional focus in finance is full full full.

I get something running.

That’s it.

Then I don’t need to be with it. Mostly.

Let me run you through.

1). Cash – Bind it in a worry-free and accessible manner. Done.

2). Debt – Study the underlying very thoroughly. Reject 10 underlyings. Take up the 11th which passes all criteria. Be happy with a slightly better than FD-return. Done.

3). Equity – Invest for life. Study till you drop the stock or take it up. Only invest in what meets all criteria and offers margin of safety at time of investing. On top of that – SIP (systematic investment plan). Done.

4). Forex – Get a software robot to trade it for you. Or some human-capital. All available online. Requires a bit of fine-tuning. Keep tuning till you start making a return. Done.

5). Gold – Buy physical gold. Research your source. Needs to be impeccable. Bullion. Coins. SIP. Accessible. No jewellery. Done.

6). Real-estate – Make your real-estate yield you an income. Regular income? Done.

7). Arbitrage – Understand what this is, and why it gives you a tax benefit. Get an online MF account going with Kotak MF or DWS. Divert some funds into their arbitrage MF, either or. I prefer Kotak. Monthly dividend payout option. Done.

8). Options – Get the option-strategy going. You don’t require a desktop. Mobile is sufficient. All you now need to do is take care of square-off. On mobile. This means a slightly higher level of engagement than the above avenues. Only slightly. Are you ok with that? Fine. Done.

In a flow, it’s all doable.

And, you remain focused.

Why all this?

Times demand it. You never know what might come in handy, and when.

Yeah, times are tough.

However, you are tougher.

To use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terminology, you are antifragile.

What to do in the Age of Shocks?

Wait for a shock.

That’s it.

Then go in… a bit.

Sound simple?

Ain’t.

Why?

Firstly, patience.

Who has patience, today?

Few.

Secondly, psychology.

Shock brings pessimism.

You don’t want to go in, not even a bit.

That is the whole thing.

Punchline. Understand it, and you’ve won already.

Thirdly, funds.

Who has funds, when the shock arrives?

Few.

Why?

Barely anyone knows how to SIT on funds.

I didn’t either.

Self-taught.

Through mistakes and pain.

By putting money on the line… losing it.

Took eleven years.

Now I know.

So don’t tell me that one is only born with the ability to sit.

Don’t waste your funds. Save them. They are your soldiers.

Fourthly, energy reserves.

Who has energy reserves when the shock arrives?

Few.

Why?

We’re too busy doing this doing that, always, forever. We don’t know how to conserve energy and build up reserves. Those who do then use their reserves to carry forward their strategies upon the arrival of a shock.

Fifthly, focus.

The hallmark of a big winner is focus.

Who has focus?

Few.

We’re too busy diversifying. It’s safer. Investing in the wake of shocks requires pinpointed focus.

Sixthly, courage.

Who has courage?

Few.

Why?

We’ve been taught to avoid, and move on. Life’s too full of BS that needs to be avoided. However, coming out during shocks needs courage. Face the enemy, and fight.

Seventhly, and perhaps this should have been on the top of the list, common-sense.

Who has common-sense?

Almost no one.

Why?

We’re too busy being complicated and sophisticated. We want to portray falsehood. We miss the forest for the trees. However, shocks are tackled with common-sense. Simplicity in thinking is paramount. The simplest ideas making the most sense are also the most successful ones.

Eighthly, long-term vision.

Who has vision?

Handful of people.

Why?

We’re too near-sighted. We want instant gratification. However, a shock presents excellent ground to root yourself in for the long-term. Understand this, and you’ll have understood a lot.

I could go on.

That’s quite enough though.

Above are eight points to think about,  to be seen as eight weapons that need sharpening, to come out fighting in the age of shocks.

Be patient, optimistic, fund-heavy, energy-heavy, focused and brave. Use your common-sense. Have long-term vision. BASICS.

Wishing you successful investing, in an age riddled with shocks.

🙂