Wise Wealth Advisors

D.Muthukrishnan (Muthu), Certified Financial Planner- Personal Financial Advisor

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Some thoughts

Posted by Muthu on September 22, 2018

It’s more than a month since I wrote my last piece. I try to write to you twice a month. Since good advice seldom change, sometimes I run out of ideas to write. What I’ve been doing all along is to keep conveying the same thing again and again in different words and examples. Good advice is repetitive and boring. But the rewards are exciting.

First some good news. SEBI has reduced the cost of investing in mutual funds. If cost goes down, your returns go up. This is the second such cost cutting in the last few months. Though it reduces our income, in the long run, what is good for you is definitely good for us as well. This change negatively affects those advisors who have been selling NFOs (New Fund Offer) and keep churning the portfolio to earn more commissions. As you are aware, we never ask you to invest in NFOs and rarely make changes to portfolio. As Warren Buffett says, integrity is the safest way to do business.

Markets have done horribly this year. Not only equity even debt has done very poorly. So be it equity or balanced or MIPs, all have performed negatively. Though I can give many reasons, what is important to note is this is the very nature of markets. It never progress linearly. Long term returns are made up years of high returns, low returns, no returns and negative returns. Last year was a year of high returns. This year is the year of negative returns.

Returns from mutual funds (mark to market products) are always lumpy. What matters to us is long term returns and not each year returns. There is nothing we can do to remove the volatility or lumpiness. This is the way market functions. You are rewarded with good long term returns only if you can accept and maintain calm during such volatile periods.

One advice I can give you this year is not to look at your portfolio frequently. We are all emotional creatures and negative returns triggers fear and create an impulse to quit. I’ll share each one of your portfolio in April 2019 along with my review. Though you all have online login facility, I would strongly suggest not looking at your portfolio. In bad times, we think good times would never come. In good times, we think it would last forever. The reality is market is cyclical. By going through multiple cycles, we get good long term returns which market provides us.

In a growing economy like India, progress is permanent and set backs are temporary. Don’t miss long term progress by getting bogged down with temporary setbacks.

Don’t look at portfolio and stay the course.

All would be well.

Posted in General, Muthu's Musings | 3 Comments »

Focus on progress not on crisis

Posted by Muthu on August 15, 2018

Happy Independence Day.

There has been no year without any domestic or global crisis. We focus only on crisis and not on progress. This is because, as Morgan Housel says, progress happens too slowly to notice and setbacks happen too quickly to ignore.

In the last 7 decades, how many problems we’ve faced as a nation? Innumerable. At the same time, see how we’ve also progressed on various fronts.

Investors who focus on progress create abundant wealth. Those who focus only on crisis, gets jittery and lose the precious wealth creation opportunity.

You need to always keep only bigger picture in mind. If day to day headlines, amplified by media, scare you, you won’t go very far in investing.

Consumption, entertainment, travel, leisure, buying home, borrowing, saving, investing, insuring, healthcare, industrial activities, agriculture, working in office, improvements in technology, infrastructure development…. the list can fill pages; all continue to happen irrespective of any crisis.

If there is a problem in Turkey, you don’t stop brushing with Colgate, stop taking bath with Hamam or not paint your house with Asian Paints. Commerce is the back bone of civilisation and never stops.

By investing in stocks or equity funds, you’re participating in commerce and its progress.

India over next two decades is capable of becoming a middle income country.

By investing in equity, you also become part of this growth and create wealth.

If you focus only on crisis, you’ll miss the underlying progress.

One crisis or another would always be there but so is progress.

Keep the focus right and just stay the course.

Posted in General, Stock Market, Wealth | 4 Comments »

Simple that’s why

Posted by Muthu on August 5, 2018

Last month I wrote how failure is the norm, be it investing or business. The success rate is very less.

In an article, New York Times mentions that out of 3481 listed companies in US, 200 companies accounted for all profits. The rest 3281 companies lost money. The success rate is just 6%.

We’ve also seen many times in past, how investors earn less than fund returns, as they chase performance. The average holding period of mutual fund investors is around 18 to 24 months. Once Prashant Jain mentioned, hardly 2% of investors stay invested for more than 10 years in a fund. Only small percentage of investors create wealth through equity, be it mutual funds or direct stocks.

Many of you are now among this tiny group of successful investors. How majority of our clients ended up in this successful tiny minority?

We’ve no special expertise but strongly believe in certain process and discipline. We accept investments only for a minimum tenure of 10 years. We don’t frequently churn portfolio. We rarely make changes that too only when we are convinced it is required. We use all opportunities to educate how ups and downs are very nature of markets and why staying invested for long run matters. By not tinkering, we interfere less in your wealth creation journey. More importantly, we don’t let you become your own enemy, through your behaviour.

When I started as an advisor 12 years ago, I decided to implement these principles in my own investment journey and that of our clients. It was easier to implement for clients from day one. It took few years for me to implement for my own investments.

To make money, one needs to be in right place at the right time. India is in such a sweet spot. Unless we mess things up by our own behaviour, discipline and patience would continue to create good wealth. All I ensure is you do few right things, avoid many wrong things and don’t mess it up by negative behaviour.

Teaching is easy. Following the teaching is very difficult. We did the easy part and you the difficult one. Glad that we are able to attract clients matching our philosophy.

We did not do anything extra ordinary. We’ve very limited expertise. You’re successful because you did ordinary things extra ordinary well. Nothing new in the wisdom we shared. It’s all learning from legends, freely available in the internet.

Charlie Munger once said “More investors don’t copy our model because our model is too simple. Most people believe you can’t be an expert if it’s too simple.”

You did simple things very well ending up in tiny successful minority.

The thing is anyone can copy this and be successful, but most won’t do.

That’s why it is being repeatedly said that investing is simple but not easy.

Posted in Stock Market, Wealth | 2 Comments »

Failure is the norm

Posted by Muthu on July 15, 2018

Many businesses die within first three years of starting. Even among those who survive, very few thrive. Most simply survive. I read that only around 25% of listed companies create wealth. Only a single digit percentage of companies create huge or mega wealth.

It looks like failure is the norm and success is an exception. But we always think otherwise.

Be it sports or movies or politics, the same thing holds good.

Only 1% of us can be in the top 1%. Not all of us can create wealth in stock markets. Most of us would end up average in investing.

Traits are labelled based on outcomes. If successful, we call it perseverance. If failure, we call it stubbornness.

When we realise failure is the norm in many aspects of life, we would be compassionate towards both ourselves and others.

Setting aside for the moment role of luck, we either need to do things differently or do ordinary things extra ordinarily for success.

Impulsiveness and impatience are very common among investors. That why most of them never make any money in markets. Not only that many lose as well.

Discipline and patience would help you do ordinary things extra ordinarily. Though success is never assured, this increases the probability.

All our effort is towards making you do ordinary things well and be different from most of the investors.

If you realise failure is the norm and success is rare, you would understand why we ask you to do what we ask you to do.

Many think stock markets or trading is easy. This is the only field where we take outcome for granted without adequate outer and inner preparation. As Buffett says, in every market cycle, a new set of investors learn some very old lessons.

It is better to have some self doubt, appreciate uncertainty, prepare adequately, do things differently from an average investor and most important do ordinary things extraordinarily. This increases our chance of success and hopefully we won’t fail.

Posted in General, Muthu's Musings | 1 Comment »

Rise and fall

Posted by Muthu on July 7, 2018

Broader markets have been going through deep correction in 2018. This has impacted the equity funds return. Rising bond yields have impacted the debt funds return. Both combined have impacted hybrid (balanced, MIP) funds return.

For those of you who have been investing for long time, portfolio still shows decent returns.

For those of you who started last year, the returns are either marginally positive and in many cases negative.

Markets are always cyclical. It never keeps going in one direction. During good periods, we think bad periods would never come and vice versa.

Rise is always followed by fall and fall is always followed by rise. The long term returns we earn are after going through these repeated cycles.

There is no way to time these cycles. Understanding cycles does not lead to timing the same.

If we expect 15% annualised returns from equity funds over next 10 years; 80% of the returns would happen in 20% of time. Need to stay for entire 10 years to ensure that we don’t miss this 20%.

Long term returns are obtained after years of high returns, low returns, no returns and negative returns.  We cannot focus on one and avoid others. If we need to participate in years of high returns, need to stay invested in years of negative returns as well.

We always ask you to take a minimum 10 year outlook for equity funds, not less than 6 years for hybrid equity (balanced) funds and at least 3 years for hybrid debt (MIP) funds.  Only liquid funds can be held for short term without any prescribed minimum period.

By our regular interactions, you are aware of all these points. Still it is my duty to keep reinforcing the same periodically.

Bull markets would be followed by bear markets would again be followed by bull markets ad infinitum. The cycle continues to keep happening. Need to go through both bull and bear markets for good long term returns. One positive aspect is there are more good years than bad years. Markets are up generally 70% of the time and down 30% of time (in years).

If looking at portfolio pains you, stop looking at the same.

Investors who review portfolio only once a year has better chance of staying the course. If you panic and redeem in bear markets, you would not be able to enjoy the returns of bull markets.

Only those who own investments in bear markets are those who are rewarded in bull markets.

Investing legend Andre Kostolany said beautifully “Who does not own shares, when their prices drop, will not own shares when prices soar.”

Be intelligent and stay the course.

Posted in Muthu's Musings, Mutual Funds, Stock Market | 4 Comments »