Monday, April 29, 2013

Wealth-Forum e-zine

Clients will listen to us, provided we communicate differently
Raj Talati, ABM Investment, Baroda
Raj Talati runs a successful financial planning and advisory practice in Baroda, serving over 700 clients, many of whom are fee paying clients, and has accumulated a MF AuM of around Rs.28 crores. But what really sets him apart is the manner in which he explains financial concepts to his clients, in a way they can instantly relate to. How can the ongoing IPL help you explain the benefits of asset allocation to your clients? How can an annual vacation help you explain what financial planning is to your clients? How do you bring out the true power of compounding in a manner that clients get bowled over? How can a blockbuster movie help you explain the need for general insurance to your clients? Read on as Raj shares with us some of the novel ways in which he explains to his clients many terms that we frequently use as advisors and planners. We are grateful to Raj for readily agreeing to share his insights and ideas with Wealth Forum, for the benefit of the wider IFA fraternity across the country.

To Continue reading click link :Wealth-Forum e-zine

Friday, April 26, 2013

"SAFETY"- No such word in Financial Dictionary

As per meaning of safety defined as: the state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.

On Googling for meaning of SAFETY in financial terms, I could not find a single dictionary which explains - safety. I did found words like : safe harbour, safety net, safe heaven etc etc...and the meaning of any of them didn't matched with dictionary meaning. do define "safe assets" as 

"Assets which, in and of themselves, do not carry a high likelihood of lawsuit risk. Mere ownership of this type of asset does not expose the asset owner to a significant risk of litigation.
Assets such as stocks, mutual funds, bonds, bank accounts and your personal residence are examples of safe assets." Which is totally different from what Indian investor thinks.

The recent development of Cyprus prompted me to search for meaning of "SAFETY in financial world".

First let me take you through some facts about pattern of Investment of Indian investor - As per the RBI's 2011-12 annual report bank FD's or contractual savings(Small Savings Scheme, LIC) constitutes almost 85% of total financial savings where as currency is almost 10% leaving 4-5% for Equities. 

The obvious reason for such a high allocation to FD is SAFETY. We perceive word safety as "To get back the capital and Interest on maturity date without any volatility". That might be the reason we rely mostly on all the government institutions like : Post offices, LIC, PSU Banks.

But, fallout of some of the biggest bank and government institution in U.S and Europe are the best example that even Govt. institutions are riskier at times and we may end up losing part of our money. Why to go to U.S we have example of our own government sponsored UTI US'64 scheme wherein government did paid back money of investors but with a delay of 6 years and that too in the form of 6% tax free bonds.(Just think of condition of a father who had invested money for his son's education or daughter's marriage)

Regarding Guarantee for repayment of Bank FD, RBI portal says "The deposits kept in different branches of a bank are aggregated for the purpose of insurance cover and a maximum amount upto Rupees one lakh is paid."  subject to bank have paid premium to deposit insurance and credit guarantee corporation .

Now, Let's understand what has happened in Cyprus, just to bail out economy "Government has imposed tax on bank deposits in Cyprus, they are taxed @6.75% on their  deposits less then EURO 100000.00 and @9.75 for more then that ".In simple terms one fine day suddenly government reduced your bank balances as well as FD value by 6.75%- 9.75%. Just think how would you feel if you woke up in the morning and found that government has decided to take away 6.75% of your money".

Even in case of India it is happening that our FD are reduced by almost 4-5% every year. Let me explain you how : The current CPI inflation rate is about 10.50% and Tax free FD rates of SBI is 5.78% (8.50% less 32% Tax rate). So the cost of goods which I can purchase today for Rs.100 becomes Rs.110.50 (CPI@10.50%) at the end of year whereas my FD value net of tax comes to Rs.106.00. So to buy the same goods I need to add Rs.4.50 to my FD amount, don't you think even we are paying a tax of 4%-5% year on year on our bank FD.

The purpose of highlighting above facts is not that we should not invest in FD's but we need to understand that there is no such word as safe asset class. The fall of 15% in Gold in last 3 months has proved even the safest asset class can be volatile at times.

We are now a part of the global investor community. The purpose of an investor seating in other part of the world is to make profit from his investment. Wherever and whenever he finds an opportunity he will buy into it and sells out in case of uncertainty. He is not concerned with asset class i.e. Debt, Equity,Real Estate or Commodities like Gold,Silver,Oil,Copper etc...

So it is mere foolishness to think that price of your investment in any asset class can grow perpetually or safe from all risks.

The only way to save yourself from getting in trap of any asset class is to follow a proper asset allocation strategy (Also read ;key-to-wealth-creation-asset-allocation.)

looking at above facts we can either act like an Ostrich who hides his face in the sand when attacked by a predator (assuming that if you can't see it , then anyone else also don't see you) or can take informed decision of how much amount to be allocated to FD,Gold, Real Estate or Equity so that we or our family do not need to compromise on future Dreams or Goals.

Consult your financial planner to advise you on proper asset allocation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God to India's rescue - Strong case to overweight Equity

Mannu Singh, who was in financial difficulty, walked into a temple and started to pray. ''Listen God -I know I haven't been perfect but I really need to win the lottery. I don't have a lot of money. Please help me out.'' He left the temple, a week went by, and he hadn't won the lottery, so he walked to a church ''Come on, God,'' he said. ''I really need this money. My mom needs surgery and I have bills to pay. Please let me win the lottery.'' a week went by, and he didn't win the lottery. So, he went to a mosque and started to pray again. ''You're starting to disappoint me, God,'' he said. ''I've prayed and prayed. If you just let me win the lottery, I'll be a better person. I don't have to win the jackpot, just enough to get me out of debt. I'll give some to charity, even. Just let me win the lottery.'' Many thought this did it, so he got up and walked outside.

The clouds opened up and a booming voice said, ''Mannu, my son please please please.....atleast buy a lottery ticket.''

Similar is the situation of India. Right now we want our growth to be in place, inflation to be under control, rupee to get stronger, get rid of corruption, reduce current account deficit, reduce fiscal deficit. 

By looking at India's Pathetic situation it seems god has felt pity on us and have bought a lottery ticket and served it to us on a platter.

The biggest worry for India as of now is twin deficits i.e. Current account deficit (CAD) and Fiscal deficit. Although our finance minister is making sincere efforts to control it, by increasing import duty on gold , reducing subsidies, cutting expenses etc. etc  but all efforts are in vain. 

It seems suddenly god has listened to prayers of all the Indians.

As mentioned in my earlier Blog  "Gold : Is it really safe anymore????" ( I did pointed out that gold can't keep on increasing and would see drastic fall when positions unwinds)  In its report RBI points out, as a ratio to the CAD, gold imports were a whopping 71.9 in FY12. As a proportion of the balance of trade, gold imports were 21% in the first half of FY13. So gold import is biggest negative for our balance of payment. With recent fall of almost 15% in gold prices will breathe a big sigh of relief and will improve our CAD.

Apart from gold another big worry for India is OIL. India imports over 70 per cent of its oil demand. So a 10% rise in oil prices result in a 0.6 percent fall in growth while in the full pass-through situation, it can reduce the growth by 0.9 percent and vice versa. The Best news is that even oil has corrected to sub $100 level for 1st time in 9 months is big positive for us.

Fall in prices of Gold as well as Oil will help us to bring down current account deficit, which will inturn strengthen our currency.

Subsidy on Diesel and Kerosene adds up to our Fiscal deficit and increases inflation. So fall in oil prices also narrows down the fiscal deficit as well as inflation.

Icing on the cake is that WPI inflation has fallen to 40 month low of 5.96%.

From the above facts I strongly feel that RBI has to completely change its focus from fighting inflation to growth, which will help in generating jobs and help corporates to grow. We can expect rate cuts from RBI in policy review due on May 3rd.

All the biggest concern as far equity market is already addressed by falling Gold Prices,Oil Prices and Inflation which lays down a strong foundation for start of a new bull run. I don't say that market will start performing immediately. But, from asset allocation point of view it is time tor rebalance your portfolio and if your are into tactical asset allocation its time to be overweight on equities.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Key to WEALTH CREATION - Asset Allocation

Asset allocation plays a key role in every investors financial planning.

If, I get a chance to own a IPL Team "Dream Achievers'. How should I go for buying players,during auction.Should I buy all 15 team members as Fast Bowlers or All Rounders or Spinners or Hard Hitters. No, I need to make strategy looking at different options available, their pricing and my budget. According to that I will buy 7-8 good Batsman, 2-3 Spinners, Obviously a Wicket Keeper and 4-5 Fast bowlers, Possibly 2-3 of them being all rounders.

Depending on the ground conditions and opponent I decide the final team on the Jumping Japak Jumpak Jumpak. I might have 3 spinners and 2 pacers or 4 pacer and 1 spinner might send opener as Mr.Pinch hitter or Mr.Reliable. So I  need to put in place some strategy in buying the players as well as before start of the match.

Similarly in investments, all asset classes doesn't work at all the time, But perform in cycles. Hence if one were to invest all his savings in a single asset class then certainly he is inviting a big trouble for his future.As we all know world of finance is very uncertain and sticking to your asset allocation hold the key to success. 

Financial Planners uses asset allocation strategies not only to create wealth, but also to protect it during volatile times. It is not the maximisation of returns, but optimisation of returns that becomes the goal. This process plays a key role in determining the risk and return from your portfolio. Broadly speaking, the portfolio’s asset mix should reflect your risk taking capacities and goals. Financial Planners use different strategies of building asset allocations, some of them as follows :

Strategic Asset Allocation
Strategic allocation is typically the first stage in the investment process. Based on the investor’s long-term objectives, an initial portfolio is build. It is the backbone of any investment strategy. This often forms the basic framework of an investor’s portfolio. This is a proportional combination of assets based on expected rates of return for each asset class. For example, if stocks have historically given a return of 14% per year and bonds have returned 8% per year, a mix of 50% stocks and 50% bonds would be expected to return 11% per year. Strategic asset allocation generally implies a buy-and-hold strategy. Strategic asset allocation defines the boundary of risk, and it is these boundaries that help control portfolio risk.

Constant-Weighting Asset Allocation
Strategic asset allocation has its drawbacks as it entails a buy-and-hold strategy even if a change in the value of assets causes a drift from the initially established policy mix.The constant weighing strategy helps you to continuously rebalance your portfolio. For example, if gold was declining in value, you would purchase more of it to maintain its weightage and if its value increased you should sell it. There are no hard-and-fast rules for the timing of portfolio rebalancing under strategic or constant-weighting asset allocation. Most Planners advises rebalancing to its original mix when any asset class moves more than 5-7% from its original value or alternatively on semi annual basis.

Tactical Asset Allocation
Most of the Indian investor I have follows this allocation strategy without knowing risk associated with it. There are investors who constantly want to seek returns out of market opportunities that arise. Hence, they go in for short term tactical calls. Such tactical calls create room for capitalising on unusual or exceptional investment opportunities. This is like timing the market to participate in the fluctuations and volatility that arise due to market conditions. For example, shifting a part of the portfolio from large cap stocks to mid cap stocks to take advantage of the environment is a tactical call. Tactical allocations being opportunistic in nature, Investor are advised to always prefer to maintain clear time-based and value-based entry and exit points to ensure better management. Personally, I feel it is impossible to time the market on long term basis, it is something like predicting future and one wrong call can affect your financial plan drastically.

Dynamic Asset Allocation
It is for aggressive investors who want to ride momentum at times. So, if the stock market is showing weakness, investor sell anticipating a further fall. If it is going up, he buys anticipating a further rise. Here you constantly adjust the mix of assets as markets rise and fall. This is the opposite of constant-weighting strategy. As the entire portfolio is available for action, amateur investors may turn hyper active. Especially in the high volatile times, acting on all types of information can lead to high transaction costs. Also, the tax treatment of the returns turns to disadvantages if you churn your portfolio too much. 

Finally, victory of match depends on the strategy applied by captain in selecting the players as well as ground (market) conditions.

Similarly, to achieve financial goals as well as creating wealth every investor need to follow the asset allocation strategy and stick to it in different market conditions.Financial planners plays a big role in helping them to select a strategy which suits their risk profile and tries to bring in required discipline.