Review your investment process


Review your investment process

I have always believed that “equity investment” is a serious business but mostly done in a casual manner. In past three decades I have observed that most investors take equity investment decisions based on factors that are not related to the underlying business of the company they are investing in. While this may be more true for the small household investors (Retail) and High Networth Individuals (HNI); the professional fund managers (Institutions) and large traders are also seen taking decisions based purely on factors like politics, geopolitics, and monthly or weekly data (trade, jobs, production), etc. No wonder the “breaking news” on TV channels causes more volatility in stock prices than the management guidance about the business of the company.

I have seen many Retail and HNI investors spending less effort and time in taking equity investment decisions than they would normally spend on buying a shirt. And worst, they spend much less effort and time in taking a decision to dispose an investment than they would do for disposing an old shirt.

From the interviews and comments of some reputable professional fund managers it appears that they usually assign significantly higher weightage to the macro factors, especially political promise of policy reforms etc., than required, especially when the empirical evidence is materially against placing reliance on such political promises.

I am raising this issue this morning, because I believe that even in normal times, investors face numerous uncertainties and challenges. The consequences of these uncertainties vary vastly and are difficult to assess. Investors have to consistently struggle to assess the impact of fast changing technologies, markets, processes and methods on their investment portfolios. The consistently changing macro environment, e.g., interest rates, inflation, liquidity, demand etc., needs to be incorporated in assessing the sustainable valuations of their portfolio. The information asymmetry, regulatory changes, product innovation and debasement of governance standards at business entity level, are some of the regular challenges that an investor has to face. The challenges rise multifold in the uncertain times, like the present one.

The outbreak of pandemic has created enormous uncertainty in almost all spheres of life; especially businesses. A large number of businesses are struggling for survival. Multifaceted challenges have subjected a host of businesses (and some industries) with extreme uncertainties having material and severe consequences. Unlike the previous crises (dotcom bubble of 1999-2000 and global financial crisis of 2008-09), which mostly impacted one set of businesses, this crisis is more pervasive.

The impact of crisis led disruption is exacerbated by the fact that prior to the crisis the global economy was witnessing massive technology transition. Artificial Intelligence and clean fuel technologies were changing the landscape for many businesses. To make the matter more complex, the widespread trade war (involving USA, China, Japan, EU, and UK) was redefining the global trade and terms of trade. As per some reports, the IMF’s GDP contraction forecast for 2020 is more than double the estimated contraction that took place in 2009, the worst year of the global financial crisis.

The equity investors in India have made sub-optimal returns in past five years. Many investors are indicating that the past five year returns for them are in low single digits, with some reporting even negative return for past three years. In these circumstances, it is critical that investors make a holistic review of their investment process. Especially, those investors who have made material changes in their portfolio in view of the 2014 & 2019 India general elections and 2016 & 2020 US general elections, need to immediately sit with their respective advisers, if any, and make necessary amends.

Author: Midas Finserve

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