Monday, 19 February 2018

Sandeep Bhuwania's Blogs: Innovative Ways to Mis-sell A Low-Returns Product

Sandeep Bhuwania's Blogs: Innovative Ways to Mis-sell A Low-Returns Product: How your Banker is taking you for a ride! In the past few weeks, at least 3 clients have sought my opinion on a 'Lucrative' inves...

Innovative Ways to Mis-sell A Low-Returns Product

How your Banker is taking you for a ride!

In the past few weeks, at least 3 clients have sought my opinion on a 'Lucrative' investment scheme from Birla Sun Life Insurance being aggressively pitched to them by their bankers.

Here is the extract of the brochure

You can notice how Birla Sun Life Insurance is promising 100% to 600% Fully Guaranteed payouts after completion of policy term.

Such seemingly high Guaranteed Payout figures are used by the agents & bankers to mis-sell the policies.

A simple 2-minute calculation using IRR Function in Excel shows that the annualised return of such a 'Guaranteed' plan is less than 5.2% p.a.


Learn to use IRR & XIRR function in MS Excel for your own benefit.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Do Not Pay Attention To All The Noise About Demonitisation

 Ever since PM Modi announced #Demonitisation on Nov. 8, 2016 the media is abuzz about potential impact - both short term & long-term; Good & bad.

The extent of negativity an individual is associating with #Demonitisation# is directly proportional to one or both the following factors combined:

  1. The inability to accept Modi as the Prime Minister of India, and
  2. The mental agony & financial loss borne to 'adjust' the banned Rs. 1,000 & Rs. 500 cash notes lying with the individual
This negative reaction to #Demonitisation is then getting rationalised by highlighting the hardship to the common man or fretting about the long-term negative impact on the economy, and so on.

Here is how to deal with all the noise surrounding #Demonitisation...

  1. Realize that this is an unprecedented event: Never in the history of mankind, an economy growing at 7% has sucked out 86% of cash available. With due respect to all the qualified & unqualified economists out there, one cannot fathom fully all the positive & negative long-term impact of this event.
  2. Be aware that there are too many moving parts: One never knows what further actions the Government will announce. Therefore, one's view on the positive/negative impacts can change suddenly.
  3. Learn from experience - Like always, actual impact will be in shades of grey: Long-term impact will have both positives & negatives for the economy. Only time can tell how far will one outweigh the other.
  4. Remain focused on YOUR own goals & objectives: Cut out the noise, focus on your own goals.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Tale of Two Events

What a week this has been - Two events that shook 2 of the world's largest democracies and the Indian Stock Market!!

Here are my views on the events....

Against all predictions, Donald Trump wins the Presidential election riding on the anger of America's poor & less privileged. Over the last 8 years, US has been trying to revive their economy by keeping the interest rates near zero - hoping that cheap money would encourage businesses to invest & individuals to spend - with unsatisfactory results. This was the 'Monetary Policy' method of reviving the economy through increased Consumption.

What Trump advocates is increasing Government spending on various projects which will have a ripple effect through businesses/individuals getting contracts for supplying goods & services. In other words, increasing the 'Fiscal Deficit' to revive the economy. 

The Impact
The interest rate in US has risen and FIIs are, therefore, moving way their investments from Emerging Markets like India back to US.

To curb Black Money & to check Terror Financing, the Indian Government banned use of Rs. 500 & Rs. 1,000 currency notes - effectively making 86% of currency in circulation illegal.

The Impact
Besides a temporary inconvenience to the general public, there will be huge long-term impact of this bold step.
  1. The currency notes of Rs. 500 & Rs. 1,000 in circulation approximately add up to a staggering Rs. 14 Lakh Crore. Out of this approx. 30% (i.e. Rs. 4 Lakh Crore) will never come back into circulation because the hoarders would not risk identification. Since currency notes are in effect RBI liability (Govt. debt), this would mean a write-off of Rs. 4 Lakh Crore debt, thereby, improving the Govt. Fiscal position
  2. Interest rates would come down sharply in near term
  3. Big ticket consumption would suffer and therefore, Corporate profits may be down for at least next 4-6 months. This would lead to weakness in stock market over next 6 months
What Investors Can Do
  1. Risk-averse investors should park their maturing Fixed Deposits in Ultra-Short Term Debt Schemes of Mutual Funds. The returns would be better than bank FDs over 1 & 2 years.
  2. Those thinking of investing in 3 years Fixed Deposits would be better off by investing in Dynamic Bond Funds for 3 years for far better post-tax returns than a Fixed Deposit.
  3. Those with 5-year horizon should invest in a staggered manner in Equity or Equity Funds over next 6 months
  4. Those with 10-15 years horizon should not even bother. This will pass - just like World Trade Centre attack (9/11), Lehman Crisis, BrExit and countless others which you may not even remember!!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Investment Expertise is Over-Rated & Discipline is Under-Rated

There is a classic story about how a stock portfolio built by having a blindfolded monkey throwing darts at the financial pages of a newspaper does better than a portfolio constructed by experts!! Sounds unbelievable?

You must then read “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, a 1973 bestseller by Burton Malkiel.

It is quite common for investors to seek 'Expert' advice on stock market direction or on the prospects of a company's share price. Similarly, those who are not looking to invest in stocks directly, seek 'Expert' advice on a 'Scheme' that will earn them superlative returns.

The reason for such behavior is the belief that there are 'Investment Experts' who can provide 'Investment Tips' to help one earn superior returns on their money.

Such belief often leads to grossly sub-optimal returns on investment for a retail, individual investor who ideally wants to build huge capital over his/her working life (20-30 years or more).

So, what should a common individual investor do?

First of all, remember this:
It is NOT so much the SMARTNESS, but better DISCIPLINE which creates Higher Wealth

Here are the simple habits that one can develop to be a Disciplined Investor:
  1. Understand that someone promising a High Return is only trying to attract your attention. Be extremely wary of such promises
  2. Focus on your GOALS rather than trying to generate abnormal returns
  3. Start investing at the earliest possible - No matter howsoever small the amount may be. This way you allow Compounding to work for your benefit
  4. Remember George Soros ' words: "If investing is entertaining, if you’re having fun, you’re probably not making any money. Good investing is boring.”

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Flawed Thinking That is Disastrous For Your Wealth

Quite often we come across investors who display the following mindset relating to their investment planning:

This is the classic case of flawed thinking that is disastrous to one's wealth!!

Investors make wrong choices when they confuse volatility with Risk. Stock markets are volatile but not risky if one has an investment horizon of 15-20 or 30 years. In fact, it is the most suitable vehicle to create huge wealth over such time horizons.

On the other hand, 'Safe' instruments like bank deposits & debt funds are the best choice for wealth preservation over 1-3 years horizon but extremely unsuitable for wealth creation due to taxation & inflation.

The correct plan for the above investor is:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wealth Creation Lesson From the Sun

The Sun is the source of all life on the planet. It dutifully rises everyday, without fail to break the night into dawn. Fog. haze, or cloud cover may subdue its light and energy on some days. Yet, it rises with the same intensity and persists in its endeavors. Eventually the clouds clear out, the fog subsides and the haze gives way for its light to shine brighter than ever.

But, what would happen if the Sun were to lose hope due to these 'disturbances' and decide to stop rising?

Creating wealth through Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) requires persistence like the sun to push beyond the haze, clouds and fog!! There would be days, weeks or at times even months of "thick cloud cover" when the markets are in panic mode, owing to whatsoever reason.

Yet, if one fearlessly endures the days of "Thick cloud cover" and continues with the SIP month on month for years continuously, their wealth grows beyond imagination.

Let's rewind and go back 20 years to January 1996 and relive the experience of an investor who would have started their SIP in a diversified Mutual Fund in that month.

Since then, the stock markets have seen some major prolonged 'cloud covers' which must have tempted the investors to  discontinue their SIP in a Mutual Fund.

  • Year 1997-98: Asian Financial crisis - Starting from Thailand and spreading soon to Malaysia, Phillipines, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong, China and many others. 
    • The BSE Sensex fell 33% - from 4,320 in Aug. 1997 to 2,860 in Sept. 1998
  • Year 2000-2001: Dotcom bubble crash; Ketan Parekh Scam, Twin Tower Attack
    • BSE Sensex crashes 48% - from 5,465 in March 2000 to 2,820 in Oct. 2001
  • Year 2008-09: Global Financial Crisis
    • BSE Sensex crashes 62% - From 21,200 in Jan. 2008 to 8,050 in March 2009
And then there is that short-term fog which hits the markets from time to time:
  • Kargill war
  • Russia attacking Ukraine
  • Indian Current Account Crisis of 2013
  • North Korea Hydrogen Bomb
  • Chinese slowdown
What would be the result of persisting through these long term cloud covers and short term foggy days?

Look at the results below: (Assuming a monthly SIP of Rs. 5,000 started on 1-Jan-1996 for 20 years)

  • Total Amount Invested over 20 years: Rs. 12,00,000

     Approx. accumulated Value as on 1-Jan-2016 
    Compounded Annual Return
     Birla SL Balanced 95 Fund
     Rs. 1.40 Crores
     20.9% p.a.
     HDFC Equity Fund
     Rs. 2.06 Crores
     24.0% p.a.
     Reliance Growth Fund
     Rs. 2.47 Crores
     25.5% p.a.
    For more on Wealth Creation fundamentals, please visit