Friday, Jan 17 2020
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications
  • Why are my returns low?

  • Should I continue investing in current markets?

  • What should I do to get higher returns?

These are some of the most common questions that we hear on the streets whenever the markets take a dip. Many investors who are new to the game are not really sure what is happening to the markets and to their investments. Are you having these questions? Have you been asked these questions? If yes, please read on...

What do I need to know?

Take a pause, clear your mind and go back to understanding the nature of the markets and the basic tenants of investing.

  1. It is the nature of equities: So what makes equity exciting and rewarding as compared to a bank FD? It's because it is volatile in the short run with the potential to deliver superior returns in the long run. That is the basic nature of equities. It carries a risk which is not there in guaranteed investments. If you thought that equities deliver returns in a straight line, you are sadly mistaken. If you are investing in equities, you have to be mentally and financially prepared to take hits on your portfolio and digest even negative returns in short to medium term. If you cannot, I am sorry that you made a mistake of investing in equities. Please go back to guaranteed investments.

  2. Why volatility is your friend: So it is clear that volatility is inherent in the markets due to many reasons. And it is because of this volatility that investors get opportunities to enter the markets, build on your portfolio and make strategic investment decisions (we will talk about it later). Without volatility, all the stocks will be fully valued to their (earnings) growth expectations at all times. In such a hypothetic and predictable market, everyone will invest in stocks and the advantage of equities over debt investments will no longer exist. It is only volatility that gives opportunities to investors and fund managers (mutual funds!!) to identify opportunities in the market to deliver 'alpha returns'. Alpha returns are the extra returns generated due to fund management expertise over and above market /benchmark returns.

  3. Market timing is futile: Many studies have shown that equity market returns over the long term are fairly insulated from the short-term market volatility. In other words, your returns over say 10-15 years do not matter much whether you invest at Sensex 37,000 or 39,000. What would matter most is how long have you stayed investments. This is a fact and you can very well put your excel skills to good use finding out the extra returns you will get. In the end, the extra returns from market timing fall awfully short of the efforts, mental pressure and repeated transaction costs it carries. And this is only assuming that you are an excellent fortune teller who can predict how the markets will move. If you believe you can do that consistently over several years, you would be the first person in the world to do so and should be awarded a noble prize. No joking.

  4. Asset Allocation strategy helps: So what should we do? Always remember that in investments, as in life too, often the simplest answer is the right answer. It is always the right time to go back to the basic tenant of investing – asset allocation. Yes. It is the time when you should do a proper relook at your asset allocation. It may be possible that your equity portion has reduced in size against your target. So realignment by moving some surplus funds from debt assets to equity to get back to the targeted asset allocation is what you can do. No rocket science here.

  5. Investing in bear markets helps: Didn't we earlier say that falling markets provide an opportunity for investors to enter markets or invest more? Well, if you are a SIP investor, the news gets even better. All your SIP instalments being made in bear markets are surely getting you the much-desired boost to your portfolio. So do NOT stop your SIPs just because they may be delivering lower returns for now. Have patience and you will be suitably rewarded. Warren Buffet, the great investor once said that he will have absolutely no problems if the markets closed down for the next 10 years since his investment horizon is beyond 10 years. Take some time to ponder on this great idea.

  6. Think discounts: Are you not excited every time Amazon or Flipkart offers great discounts? Don't you often end up buying new things which you do not even need just to benefit from these discounts? So why then do you think differently when it comes to dips in the market? Why can't you see that these are like discounts offered in the equity markets from time to time? Care to invest more now?

  7. Losses are notional unless you make them real: Lets' get a bit philosophical here. No one can hurt you unless you allow them to hurt you. It's all how you think and feel from within that dictates your level of happiness and peace in life. The same philosophy holds very true for your investments as well. Your losses are notional and temporary. If you give them adequate time, they will recover and deliver decent returns over time. The market history tells us that the possibility of you generating negative returns from equity markets over say 10 years and above is almost nil, irrespective of all ups and downs during the journey. So just chill. Unless of course, you want to kick the axe yourself and enjoy losses by selling in panic.

Let us again reiterate some facts. Equities are risky in the short-term. They hold the promise of good real returns (above inflation and post-tax), more than any asset class in long-run. Short term volatility offers opportunities and is not necessarily bad. Stick to the basic idea of discipline, asset allocation, regular investing and time in the markets to enjoy better returns in the long run. Do not stop SIPs rather see if you can increase them. In case you still need help, just call your advisor for more gyan and assurance on the subject.

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