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Interviewing a Rich & Anonymous Investor

Rich anonymous investor interview

This guy is financially independent. He prefers that I don’t call him rich. 🙂 Manages an 8-9 figure portfolio for himself and family. Is a full-time investor. Straight talker. Is smart and extremely sensible when it comes to money.

So I decided to interview him.

He agreed to answer my questions but only if I did not disclose his identity. I didn’t see it as a problem. Seemed like a small price to pay for the learnings.

So I will call him Mr. Anonymous Investor (or for simplicity, Mr. Anonymous).

Since I can’t tell anything more about him, let’s straightaway get into the questions…

 

Dev – Who are you? Tell us something about your story (obviously without disclosing your identity).

Mr. Anonymous – I am an economics graduate. In my earlier avatar, I have worked in the financial space. My past experience increased my understanding of the business and ofcourse starting capital.

I have been married for 15 years now. My wife is an MBA and works with an NGO. We have a lovely daughter with many years to compound ahead of her.

 

Dev – So how did you become a full-time investor?

Mr. Anonymous – I had very frugal lifestyle then. My wife was earning and she had some savings thanks to her Dad and her high salary. I thought that I could earn enough from equities for daily chores.

I found investing as very intellectual relative to running own business. Operations eat up a significant portion of the time and effort of a businessman. While business may earn high ROI in initial years, over time it may come down to earning just average ROIs.

So I was of the view that if I could manage to earn above average returns from equities over a longer time frame, I could probably be as rich as a businessman.

 

Dev – How did you invest when you started (even before becoming a full-timer) and what has changed now?

Mr. Anonymous – I started investing based on names of the companies and familiarity. I hadn’t mastered the behavioral element required for investing. I used simple and widely visible business to invest in. I missed Infy, Satyam and the likes. (Later I did buy TCS in IPO and kept on adding; I still hold it).

Then I picked up combining Low PE and High ROE strategy.

I gained confidence and decided to shun job and pick up full time investing. I didn’t have any track record when I left my job. I had no recency bias or overconfidence when I became a full time investor. I solely believed in my understanding of the business and had a decent starting capital.

 

Dev – What is your philosophy when it comes to money and investing?

Mr. Anonymous – About money, I think people don’t have set goals why they are saving or investing. Many want to just earn later to park it in bank FDs or buy some Real Estate. I don’t understand this fascination and such comfort. It’s just mental masturbation of bank balance.

I invest for roaming across the globe and retirement. I have achieved my retirement corpus long back.

So currently I am helping many friends and family to invest in equities through index funds atleast. I have Gold around 7-10% of networth for currency/govt. risk. Rest is all equities. I am excluding my occupied house from networth calculations.

Currently (in early May 2017) I have almost 25% in Liquid Funds due to lack of investment opportunities.

My investing philosophy may or may not suit all investors.

I usually scan companies that are currently undergoing some pains and trade at low multiples on cyclically low earnings. But once bought, I tend to hold them over long term.

But understanding management is not so easy. It took me 5-6 years to understand various kinds of managers. People often consider management good if he is growing faster than industry. But I try to see what he does in downcycles. It’s better to assume that almost all managements are frauds at the start. If I like the valuation I tend to take 3-5% position. If I find management great during the holding period, I increase the allocation. I may pay a higher price also if I believe the management is focusing more on ROE than revenue growth.

Occasionally, I scan what other research analysts are recommending and often get one or two ideas from them. I have benefitted from some advisors including Debashis Basu and a few MF monthly portfolios. I have subscriptions of Money Life and MoneyWorks4me. I also follow Quantum Mutual Fund and Prashant Jain of HDFC MF.

 

Dev – Concentrated or Diversified Portfolio? Why?

Mr. Anonymous – Ofcourse concentrated 🙂 I tend to hold around 10-14 stocks. But it may happen that two companies are in the same sector; though these companies may not have the same business model even if they belong to the same sector.

But I recommend early investors (typically having 1-3 years’ experience) to practice diversification. Not very large diversification but 20-25 stocks.

You also need courage to hold stocks in bear markets. If you hold 10% in a stock and it tanks 50%, you question yourself and move out at a loss. The stock may stay there for 2-3 years before it bounces back to desired levels.

People really underestimate emotional effects of drawdown and its impact on long term portfolio returns. Having a diversified portfolio of 20-25 stocks would give you the courage to hold onto your favorite stocks rather than losing patience and selling it all at a loss. This typically happens during market corrections (like in 2005, 2011, 2013, etc.)

 

Dev – Tell us something about your investing home runs?

Mr. Anonymous – Most home runs have happened in asset light business and secular long term trend. Luck part being that it experienced steep growth during my holding period.

I had one leading telecom company for 5 years, two housing companies for some years, one auto company, one building material and one information services company. All had underpenetrated markets. So long term growth is still there in all of them but it will be slower than the past. Having potential market is not enough, having the ability to scale up fast is the key. Cadbury and Kellogg’s took years to scale up despite big potential, but some grow very fast which is part luck.

 

Dev – Tell us something about your investing mistakes?

Mr. Anonymous – Mostly asset heavy and commodity business have given me nightmares (like GAIL, etc.). My mistakes have been buying a metals company thinking that it can manage to turnaround. But commodity cycles may take longer to reverse to the mean.

Also, most asset plays have given me some nightmares. Nowadays I prefer to invest in asset plays only for short term. If the valuation gap is not closing in say 1-2 years, I move to another undervalued stock.

 

Dev – Do your regret any financial decisions in your life?

Mr. Anonymous – I have been lucky to have made major decisions well. In hindsight, quitting the job and practicing full time investing was very beneficial to my family.

I can spend time with my daughter and my wife can continue working in NGO. I don’t like to manage the money of people I don’t know. It becomes difficult to communicate why we are underperforming or why we are not picking stocks now.

I don’t want to slog very hard as I have already reached my goal. I manage many accounts for free. Most of my friends don’t pay me for recommending a mutual fund.

 

Dev – You are a full time investor. And one of the hardest things to master for professional investors is coming in each day for work and doing nothing. What’s your routine?

Mr. Anonymous – I have rented an office space in my friend’s commercial complex. I typically work from 9 to 5. Sometimes, I prefer working from home. A lot depends on what mood I am in. If I feel like reading books I stay at home, if I am researching a company, I prefer to do it alone in the office.

On daily basis, I check my watchlist, 52-week losers, 3/6 month losers. I also check promoter’s buying and selling activity. Every month MFs publish buying and selling reports, I do check once in a while.

 

Dev – How do you analyse businesses worth investing? The process followed and what goes into your ‘Too Hard’ side of the table?

Mr. Anonymous – I don’t usually believe in fancy stories of turnaround or value creation. Why should I take businessman’s risk when I am not in control of things? I rather stick to established business models which have the ability to come out of temporary stress.

Sometimes, I go through good fund manager’s monthly report. Most of the time I reject what they are buying. Occasionally, I get 1 or 2 ideas worth exploring.

One such example was Power Grid Corp by Sankaran Naren. Though I bought FPO based on MoneyWorks4me’s recommendation. S Naren’s activity led me to dig more. However, I sold off the stock early as I got another stock idea.

Too hard bucket for me has been asset heavy business for now. Since the beginning I haven’t liked conglomerates. Conglomerates have weird cash flows structures and promoters pursue their dream/pet projects. I don’t wish to participate in promoter’s unrelated diversification. If promoter happens to be good, I rather enter later once he proves to be good. People are bullish on Piramals as if he has cracked Real Estate model already. As if he can’t make mistakes. As if he is Warren Buffett. 🙂

 

Dev – And once you have shortlisted the businesses, how do you decide which ones to buy?

Mr. Anonymous – I see 50% upside in next 2 years before I buy a stock. If it’s a stable business, then I look for 15% 5Y forward CAGR from today’s price. I don’t fantasize multibaggers. I stick to basics and keep finding new ideas.

Multibaggers happen in hindsight. I don’t build stories at the time of buying. While it’s true that 1-2 multibaggers can change your life at the time of purchase but you won’t commit 10% of networth because only in hindsight one would know which one of it was a multibagger.

I rather follow a process which will continuously help me generate above average returns rather than having the anxiety of finding a multibagger every year.

I believe Joel Greenblatt’s Little Book and Pabrai’s Dhandho Investor are good starting point.

 

Dev – How much returns should one expect from equities in the long run? How did you arrive at that figure?

Mr. Anonymous – People should check inflation numbers. Yes, government numbers can be fudged but you can work with proxies. Use 10Y Bond rate of 7% and add to it GDP growth of the country. If we say GDP growth rate is 5%, the average investor would earn 12% CAGR.

But add to it sticking to good companies and pursuing contrarian investing, one can add 2-3% more. This should be the starting point for filtering out ideas.

What I insist most of my friends and followers is to first try to generate market returns for yourself. This will not scare you away from equities.

While returns are important, more important what percentage of assets you put in equities. So index fund will give you courage.

After that, play around with new process on a small portion of your capital. Then slowly move more capital to that process.

Don’t jump into growth or value investing/concentration from day one. While a bulk of the portfolio will be earning some returns from the index fund, you will not have the fear of missing out. It’s ok to miss out 2-3 years of high returns. In 10-25+ years investment horizon, it will be a small blip. Don’t ruin future returns regretting over missed opportunities.

 

Dev – Your message to those who say getting 18-20% returns is easy?

Mr. Anonymous – Most businesses would grow at nominal GDP growth rate in future. Occasionally one would find a business growing faster than that but again he wouldn’t have full networth in the same.

On top of it, most mutual funds holding 50-60 stocks claim to earn 18-20% which looks impossible unless the economy grows at that pace going forward.

Someone with 10 stocks may as well grow at 18-20% in short run but over long term it will reverse to the mean.

Blow-ups happen! Shit happens! No one is as smart as or as lucky as Warren Buffett, till now. Don’t have the survivorship bias.

 

Dev – How to ‘actually’ be greedy when others are fearful and vice versa?

Mr. Anonymous – First of all one has to realize that he is holding a diversified portfolio of 15-20 companies. Few would definitely drown in next economic slowdown but some would rise.

If most of the stocks are quality (No debt, high ROE, asset light), then a high percentage of the businesses would come out of the economic slowdown. This will give you courage in buying/averaging those shares during market corrections.

I was scared but I did average most stocks in late 2008 and early 2009. I had started buying stocks much before than the actual bottom.

Stocks had fallen 20-30% after my first purchase. I went on to buy Bajaj Auto, HDFC Ltd, LIC housing, TCS, etc. I knew some would not do well. TCS and INFY had gloomy prospects given where BFSI stood in US then.

But then I wasn’t looking for a winner in every stock. If you look for a winner in every stock, you end up missing most bargains. Most bargains are available due to uncertainty. Uncertainty is the most favourable time to buy. Ofcourse, one may start with just 3-4% allocation and once uncertainty fades out, average up fast.

Same ways, realize that very high growth is not something you should assume over long periods, there will be some exceptions like HDFC Bank or Kotak but I won’t hold on to such stocks if prices factor in very high growth rate. I start trimming the position. Just like buying, I sell too in a staggered manner. If I really like the business I don’t sell out completely and may stick around with 3-4% allocation and later add up when the prices return to normal or bargain levels.

Investors should reverse calculate what growth rate market is assuming. Read Expectations investing by Alfred Rappaport.

If you believe the company can enjoy 30X PE due to growth, take entire growth period and apply 15-18X at the end of that year’s earnings. Refer to Prof. Sanjay Bakshi’s Relaxo valuation. Very simple way to value a company. This will give you reasonable valuation and reality. Don’t fool yourself with growth assumptions like 25% for 10 years. It isn’t easy and no company can do it.

Also, don’t have a bias for your portfolio companies. Most business would enjoy 14-18x PE only after growth normalizes. For example, if we see V-Guard, Nerolac, Havells, they are being bought as hope diamonds for growth. If I reverse calculate, V-guard should grow at 30% CAGR over next 5 years to justify today’s valuation. Similarly, Dmart and TVS Motors are steeply priced. Most consumer brands including consumer NBFCs are steeply priced. I don’t understand that in an era of low income growth and poor employment how would these companies grow at such high rates for long periods.

So when I say the market is overheated, third-grade SIP sellers get offended and abuse me for timing the market. 🙂 I ain’t timing the market, I am valuing a business and it’s not making any sense.

If you ask your customers to hold on to expensive stocks in the name of not timing the market, you are doing a disservice to them. Why do you even exist if you can’t help move out of pure equity dynamic or balanced funds till the time froth settles? Or simply, even you do not understand valuations or investing.

I was very lucky to have exited significant part of the portfolio in September 2007. Though I missed the BIG rally till Dec’17, I was spared from steep drawdown. That is why I could immediately start buying in mid-2008. Though I was early in picking stocks, I kept on buying till 2009. Luck always favors the brave and prepared. Those with ‘don’t time the market’ philosophy lost many clients during that period. Equity industry has lost those clients forever.

I just hope that period shouldn’t come soon looking at current scenario, especially in Mid and Small Cap funds. These funds are riskier than stocks. Their price correction happens due to illiquidity rather than fundamentals. And good luck believing that customer will hold on to them during the entire drawdown

 

Dev – As an investor, the hardest thing about investing is to find a balance between 1) riding out periods temporarily unfavorable to your views and 2) realizing your views are wrong and moving on. How should an investor maintain that balance?

Mr. Anonymous – I let it out such frustrations at clubs or twitter 😉 Most of the time, some sector or companies behave weirdly and stock prices go bonkers. I hated Jubilant Foodworks since IPO listing. It went to become large gainer. Now it has corrected a bit. Still a falling knife. Long way to go before the promoter corrects its positioning and branding exercise. The quality of food is bad and competition has increased due to delivery apps.

Similar foolish behaviour is seen in United Spirits. Baseless valuations. All stories. Currently, MFIs and NBFCs are quite buoyant. I hope I am wrong on this call or else many retail customers would burn their hands.

 

Dev – How does a common investor identify his limitations, create a simple mental framework and more importantly, implement this framework to avoid making big mistakes?

Mr. Anonymous – Avoid mistakes should be the core investment philosophy. Stick to asset light business. Diversify because shit happens.

Don’t get excited if the portfolio runs up. 1 or 2 years of run up is nothing if your investment horizon is 25+ years. One of my friend’s brother got very excited looking at 35%+ returns in Feb’16- Mar’17. I had recommended him Quantum LTE and HDFC Equity during that period. Both funds were worst performers then. It was part luck and some common sense. Similarly one or two years bad performance does nothing to your long horizon. Most of the potential blow-ups are bought during

Similarly one or two years bad performance does nothing to your long horizon. Most of the potential blow-ups are bought during bull market and they actually blow up when markets turn. If you get scared of markets during corrections and can’t think of which stocks to pick, stick to Index Funds. Index Funds inherently follow momentum investing. It will weed out real problematic companies and yield decent returns.

Choosing mutual funds is tricky. Fund’s process may be centered around some philosophy. And as we know sticking to one philosophy will not yield good returns every year.

To give you a checklist:

  • Diversify between 15 stocks based on quality.
  • MF investors should hold 5 funds.
  • They can choose index fund for 50% capital and play around 30-50% capital in various MFs.
  • Keep an eye on Index PE ratio Not very reliable indicator measure though but still some thumb rule for the know-nothing investor.

 

Dev – You have strong views against mutual funds. Why? And given that most people are better off not touching equities directly, don’t you think MFs are the go-to option for such people?

Mr. Anonymous – Unfortunately, MF industry doesn’t work for its unit holders.

Every industry has its good, bad and ugly. But financial industry has more of bad and ugly. The quality of advisors in India is too bad. Investors should check what qualification they have. Most don’t have experience of understanding investing too. SEBI doesn’t have good certifications. It isn’t strict and extensive. Even a 10th Standard student without experience would clear those certifications. Most of the Advisors are basically distributors labeled as advisors.

Talking about AMCs, they are clearly favoring distributor led model. They are not educating investors when to buy and which funds to buy. Most CEOs and Fund Managers keep saying consult your advisors (basically distributors). If that is the case, why in hell are you offering direct plans? Isn’t it your job to educate investor when you have a scheme directly offered to him?

I had seen misselling in 2007 too. A few fund managers were sceptical of valuations in capital goods and infrastructure. Still Infra and Natural resources funds were sold. I have one question for them, if they are reading this blog. If you are really honest, why are you hiding your salaries, your brokerage costs, your benchmark, expense ratios? Most large-cap funds have 30% Small & mid caps. Benchmark is Nifty 50. Why? Within Benchmark, they are not using Total Returns Index offered by exchanges? Holdings in their portfolio throw dividends too. Brokerage paid isn’t shown in annual reports. All transactions are shown net of brokerage costs. Why? Am I not suppose to know that you could have spent 1% in NAV to generate just 2% alpha on brokerage cost? What if the brokerage cost is paid to own sister concern to improve its profitability?

If you are really performing fiduciary role better show all these details. If they are talking about good intentions, their actions tell us something else.

 

Dev – Volatility is one of the most recognizable and hated aspects of equity markets. And because of volatility, most investors do the exact opposite of what needs to be done. They buy (on fear of missing out) when markets are high and sell (out of fear), when its low. So how does one start believing and also, convince others about the fact that volatility is an aspect of risk and it is not 100% same as risk?

Mr. Anonymous – Tough question. I believe that no one can do this exactly right all the time. There will be misses.

But you need some anchors. Anchors won’t be perfect but atleast better than no anchor. Like your website mentions Nifty PE ratio. It’s futile to buy equities beyond 22X despite longer investment horizon. That part of capital will compound at much lower rate. Anchors help in judging future course.

One should have simple thumb rules or mental notes. The note can be as basic as this:

“Market corrections leads to fall in valuations of the company. The business owner will not give up working just because prices have gone down. He will work towards improving business fundamentals and valuations. Markets will eventually move up. Since we are holding a diversified/index portfolio, we don’t have to fear one or two businesses going bad.”

 

Dev – There is too much noise out there. And most of it harms those who use it to make their investment decisions. What are the few factors investors can use to improve their decision making?

Mr. Anonymous – Whatever you see around has a reason for its existence. Media exists for making money from advertisement. They are not for your help but for making money from TRP.

Brokers/MFs exist to earn fees they get and not for you. While people do know that most politicians don’t work for us, they are not able to ignore the noise from media and brokers’ house.

Just like you ignore what Arvind Kejriwal said in last rally, ignore what stock experts like XXXXX or YYYYY say on TV. They are not your well wishers. They come on TV to generate large AUM for themselves.
That is the reason I have taken a contrarian stance in my communication too. When everyone is recommending you hunky dory scenarios, I warn people about RED flags and optimistic projections. This helps them get two viewpoints.

I never see SELL recommendations coming from Brokers or MF sellers. I warn people that markets are turning expensive or junk stocks are getting re-rated. I hope it helps some of them.

 

Dev – What do you find most annoying in the markets today?

Mr. Anonymous – Short term price pop excites people. I wonder what would they achieve based on just 1-2 years of good performance. One needs to have a process.

Returns from the process need not be too great but it can be REPEATED over long periods.

TV/advisory experts talk rubbish about multibaggers stories but later fail to come up with new ideas in subsequent years. Most crucial thing is to earn high returns than one is currently earnings in savings instruments.

Beating-markets comes much later, after you have mastered behavioural and valuation skills.

People are looking for 18% CAGR as if it’s their birthright.

I would ask such people what have you achieved in life, skill or position that you demand 18% CAGR? The ones who are earning are slogging day in day out and brushing themselves with knowledge everyday. Even if they earn high returns, most of it will be captured by them only in terms of fees as they have done all the effort.

Why should you earn a lot? Better earn atleast market return first then pursue higher returns over years by improving behavioural skills atleast if not business analysis.

 

Dev – What are you favorite books on investing, money and psychology / behavior?

Mr. Anonymous – To name a few:

Other than books, one can read:

 

Dev – Who have been your financial heroes? And what are the most important things you have learnt from them?

Mr. Anonymous – James Montier. I don’t have his track record but his research gives me a very good reality check. Howard Marks for Behavioral Finance.

 

Dev – What is your daily reading list? 

Mr. Anonymous – All pink papers. I skim through each one of them. But this is for someone who is full time investor looking for ideas. I have a subscription to Magzter for all Indian business magazines. I get HBR and Economist physical copies at home. Actually, my wife reads HBR but I like The Economist.

 

Dev – That’s all from my side. Thanks a lot for answering my questions in such detail. It was wonderful to have you share your insights.

Mr. Anonymous – Thanks Dev.

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Written by Dev Ashish

Founder - Stable Investor Investing | Personal Finance | Financial Planning | Common Sense

57 comments

  1. Excellent Q & A. I m impressed both with Dev for asking such insightful questions and the answerer who explains what to do when investing…..really loved it

    1. Thanks Bhavik. 🙂

      Totally agree with you about Mr. Anonymous Investor’s honesty in answering every question that I had.

  2. Hi..excellent interview and great find.
    Would be thankful if you can ask Mr Anonymous, how does he approaches to valuation. What does he use for valuing the company…PE ratio, discounted cash flow…etc. How does he decide which/what is the approximatly correct valuation (on each method) to enter.
    Thanks

  3. Mr. Anonymous must understand that there are various ways to make money in the stock market as long as the money is earned legally. I found his views to be condescending on ways other than his. It looks like luck played a greater role in his journey than skill. Of course, he is quite read, patient and a bit smart.

    By the way, I too am a full time investor and achieved financial independence in stock markets by 32 yrs age, but I still am rather humble and modest.

    For example, the below statements from his interview are downright ridiculous!!!

    His statement: “Similar foolish behaviour is seen in United Spirits. Baseless valuations. All stories.

    My opinion: You need to respect what ‘market’ says. You can’t call market foolish, particularly market is nothing but “people”. When valuations stay elevated for such a long time, particularly for F&O stocks where people can even short if the valuations are baseless, you need to understand that market knows MORE than what you think you know, barring any sudden developments. You need to understand that valuations need not mean only P/E. It could be even Market/Sales, EV/EBIDTA or long road ahead of free cash flows etc.

    His statement: Currently, MFIs and NBFCs are quite buoyant. I hope I am wrong on this call or else many retail customers would burn their hands.”

    My opinion: What a charity man? You hope you could get it wrong so retail customers don’t burn heir hands? You are so merciful!! You may or may not be right but you are assuming that you are absolutely right and hope others don’t burn hands? Again, you are deciding that market is wrong and you are above market. May be you could not catch the bus and grapes are sour for you?

    Anyway, just that stock markets gives me my daily bread and I respect them and had to write this reply. Of course, people should be careful with stock market where low quality businesses too run along with high quality ones in times of exuberance. You must invest in a company after thorough due diligence. Always concentrate on protecting downside, the upside will come if you have done enough research. Pay for high quality growth.

    1. Interesting thoughts MarketLover.

      And all I can say is that everyone has a right to have different views. 🙂 We may or may not related to all of them. But that is perfectly fine.

      Glad you shared your honest thoughts here.

      Thanks

    2. Right. Bang on. Nobody has a right to criticize somebody and to down grade your industry or fraternity. Be humble. Today it is you who has made money, tomorrow it could be somebody else. This life is a full circle. When the circle would be complete, no body knows.
      Rest analysis and understanding shared is good.

      1. Yes, there is vast commonality with him. I am also a private investor, ‘full-time’ since 2002, about 30% CAGR (8-9 figure portfolio).

        His comments on mutual funds should be taken very seriously (the reasons why I do NOT invest in mutual funds).

        And another one on ‘experts’ recommendations – I consider selling if I have it in my portfolio, if valuation is close to its intrinsic value.

      2. Hi Anonymous

        If you too are interested in sharing your learnings anonymously (or otherwise), do mail me. 🙂

  4. Great! Can you ask the rich anonymous which index funds he recommends?

    Also, Dev, you have written about index funds and ETFs and have mentioned that you too will be shifting some cash to index. Do you have any views on which index fund and ETF is better? Which is your pick? and that of your rich friend?

    Thanks.

    1. He doesn’t recommend anything specific. But since the choice of broad indices is pretty limited, it shouldn’t be very difficult to pick one.

      I would love to have more options in ETF space. But it’s still sometime away in India. And there is still a lot of alpha that can be generated by taking active funds route. So I am sticking to that for time being. In future, this might change.

  5. Hi Dev, i echo my namesake Harpreet’s views above !

    you could get a lot out of Mr Anonymous , great work !…
    and i equally thank him for being forthright !

    Reading it Contrarian Arora kept coming to my mind and was amazed to see another surd Jaspreet concurring with me above above 🙂

    Most imp 3 sardars agreeing on something is rare haha …so it is indeed a job well done

    Cheers

    Harpreet

  6. Do your due diligence before buying just as you see whether you are buying a bad vegetables or good ones. Do not rely on any advisor. It is your hard earned money and only you have right over it to spend in any good ways. So be careful. Invest 90% in Equities always.

    1. I totally agree with you that one should do their due diligence as its their hard earned money – and ofcourse never blindly rely on anyone.

      But having said that, I won’t say its bad to have some faith on your advisors. Not everyone is smart enough to know what to do with their money. So a good advisor can help. Ofcourse, being an advisor myself, it makes sense for me to say that. 😉

  7. Nice interview But index funds in India don’t seem to boast much returns. Correct me if I am wrong and as a full time employee in a diffferent domain outside finance, where do I find time to do the analysis a MF manager can do. Blaming MFs is fine but all of us do not have the luxury of spending all day analyzing stocks.Also I didn’t see one positive recommendation coming out of him. I agree he is not obliged to but by criticizing the normal methods of investment for an average person you are not suggesting an alternative also.

    1. Hi

      I think everyone has their own set of views. We should pick those that suit our personality and circumstances.

      It’s my personal view that for investing in equity, most people are better of taking the mutual fund route. It may or may not be the best way, but it is the most logical one to take for most people.

  8. Hi Dev ….Many Mutual fund consisting betted the Index….I agree some fund fail but if an Investor have a little knowledge and awareness he can choose some good fund…..even though his fund are not a top performer but he can get better than Index….Because in long term (15-25) years even if one percent extra given by the fund compare to Index….It make a huge difference in the corpus….Isn’t it.

    1. Agree with you Tanveer 🙂

      And diversification within funds (i.e. by investing in 2-4 funds instead of one) also helps reduce the risks somewhat.

  9. Thanks for sharing this.Excellent insights. I am not sure whether Contrarian Arora and Anonymous are same but I like both the views.

    I too reached from a relatively low amount to make a couple of millions and could have courage to be dependent on my investments only. But I have been mostly lucky than having explicitly defined investment process. A lot of learning in store.

    1. Thanks Yath

      And its heartening to see you giving due credit to luck. Not many people are ready to do that. 🙂

  10. Insightful read. Filled with nuggets of wisdom.

    Luck does play a part but we too need to do our part. Excellent piece on what Buffet had to say on luck ( http://www.pragcap.com/warren-buffett-on-the-role-of-luck/)

    Would love if you could do a follow up Q&A asking your reader’s questions. Couple of questions I wish was answered:

    1. Mr. Anonymous says “I solely believed in my understanding of the business and had a decent starting capital” . How much was this “decent capital”? I am genuinely intrigued by how much seed capital does it take to succeed in this field. Any thoughts or pointers?

    2. They say making the first million is the hardest. How did Mr. Anonymous make his?

    Dev, keep up the good work. Hope to read many more such Q&A’s.

  11. Thanks Dev, Nice interview. interesting points as food for thought. I would like to mention learning from my investment experience as below.

    1. Failure teaches you more than success.
    2. Most stocks after turning huge multibagger comes in novice investors’s radar, like me☺.
    3. Believing in your analysis of a company is must for holding your investment in companies in bad times. Market may test your conviction by not giving the right price to stock for a long time.
    4. Patience to hold till story is intact and discovered by market is must. Many like me finds marvelous businesses but sold too early to make quick buck and loose the best parts.
    5. The most difficult part is to stick to your investment in a company when market unnecessarily punishes for price correction, a small investor always thinks that market is right in price correction due to the reasons he might not be knowing or he has missed in his analysis.
    5. Stock market mistakes make you more humble and benefits you in your next investment picking.
    6. Nobody knows thr market an stock top and bottom, price is not important ar all, it’s the value which we foreseen before most investors and mutual funds have on their radar.
    7. In matket panic, most retail investors not having stomach to hold, 90% sell in panic at most worst tume to sell.
    8. Stock price in nortward direction is the most popular teason to invest in a stock for novice investors like me.
    9. The best way to check your ability in direct stock investment is to compare your past investment returns with mutual fund returns. I am sure 99% of us are not able to beat them, go to mutual funds in SIP or STP way, most easy and mist reliable.
    10. All the best, I am on successful journey after 10 years of investment in learning as failed investor.

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  12. Very nice and informative interview/discussion. I have read similar views about mutual funds at some other places as well. It’s true that MF are best for someone who doesn’t have time to analyze and study the market and business. But for a person like me who has decent knowledge of Mutual fund investments and want to get knowledge about stock investments as well. I am not sure where to find an article/guide/book to understand on taking next step from MF to Stocks. Experts if you can advice !

    1. A good place to start is to read investment classics. I also recommend you invest some small amount in direct stocks. This way (with skin in the game), the learning accelerates.

  13. Very informative. The main highlight for me was evaluation of managements in their downturn. I would like to learn more from him how and what information he collects to evaluate the management.

  14. The concept of RIA is good. But it may not be practical in India as people are not willing to pay a fee even to a Doctor then how they will pay an Investment Adviser. I agree with you 100% regarding mis-selling, but bulk of mis-selling is happening in large banks, national distributors, despite mis-selling by small distributors. Also I agree with you easy certification process for mutual fund distributors. .

  15. Hi Dev,
    I came across this reading almost a year later. I have not seen anyone speaking so much ( bitter ) truth about investing ever in my life ! Best wishes.

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