SHOULD I STOP investing in ongoing Systematic Investment Plans? I am ready to invest, but where should I put my money? I have lost my job; is there an order in which I should liquidate my assets? The rain of questions during THE WEEK-Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund webinar series highlighted two things: investors are worried, and hungry for credible information.
The tumult in the bourse, the uncertainties of the job market and the worldwide health scare have all contributed to this feeling of deep unease. The webinars were launched against this backdrop, to reassure investors and to fill the knowledge gap. From a purely financial theme, the series quickly widened its scope to include well-being, too.
Financial speakers on the series were K.S. Rao, who heads the investor education and distribution development wing of Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd; Gaurav Mashruwala, author, expert on yogic wealth and founder of financial planning firm ACE; Amit Trivedi, author, trainer and founder of Karmayog Knowledge Academy; and Dhirendra Kumar, founder of financial advisory firm Value Research. To this galaxy of financial gurus, the last two episodes added two sought-after motivational speakers: Gaur Gopal Das of ISKCON and Dr Hansaji J. Yogendra, director of The Yoga Institute, Mumbai. Yogendra’s session also had a virtual yoga class by Varsha Gala, a certified yoga practitioner and PhD research scholar.
As a seasoned investor educator, Rao says, “Often, what affects an investor the most is not the fluctuations in the market, but the fluctuations of his own mind. Unless one invests holistically and harmoniously, the rewards can be elusive.” He cannot stress enough the fact that an “informed investor is a protected investor”.
A master of plain speak, Mashruwala says that one question often asked by investors is, “How big should my corpus be for me to retire?” His answer: “I tell them that they can never retire. You are basing your retirement on a number. And you arrived at that number after considering variables. What happens when these variables change? Change is constant. Hence, you can never retire.” As with many things in life, retirement, too, is a decision that must be based on multiple factors. In fact, the upcoming webinar is exclusively on retirement planning.
Mashruwala also spoke at length on yogic wealth and said that it was based on three kinds of riches—social, physical and financial. “It is like a three-legged stool,” he said. “Many investors do not realise that their wealth is incomplete if one of the legs is missing.”
Emphasising the need to remain calm in these uncertain times, Gaur Gopal Das, popularly known as Prabhuji, said that while “worry does not rob tomorrow of its sorrows, it certainly does rob today of its joy”. A former engineer with HP, he quoted from the scriptures and corporate case studies with equal ease. The quote that stayed with listeners much after his session was one by American writer William H. Johnsen: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
The graceful Yogendra told viewers that she had a free tool to help them make decisions calmly. “Pranayam,” she said. “Pran is bio-energy and ayam is management. Manage your breathing and your body will come into balance. Your thoughts will soon follow.”
There were hilarious moments like the time a young investor asked Trivedi if this was the right time to invest. Trivedi had a grin and a question for him: “Why do you want to invest at all?” He elaborated that all investments must be tied to goals. One does not invest or stop investing because the market is down. One can certainly re-look one’s portfolio, Trivedi said, but that is a rational process and not a knee-jerk reaction.
Kumar’s thoughts were in line with other panellists’. A simple habit every investor must follow is to write down his plan and stick to it, said Kumar. “You decide you will invest when the market is down by 10 per cent. When it touches that mark, you will wait for it to go down further,” he said. “However, if you write down your decision, you are more likely to carry it out. It is a promise to yourself.”
All panellists agreed that these are unprecedented times and that new rules will be in place going forward. This was reflected in a recent tweet by Kumar. It was the photo of a mug with the abbreviation EBITDAC. The abbreviation minus the C is known—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. C for coronavirus.