The simple question you should ask your advisor

An introduction to incentives:  A true short-story It was the year 2001, I was a few months into my first job out of college, just getting used to the idea of being able to make discretionary purchases with a magical piece of plastic. Hoping to address my obvious lack of awareness of concepts like compounding and investing for the future, my dad introduced me to an old friend of his, ‘S Uncle’. With his salt and pepper hair, ramrod posture and polished leather briefcase, ‘S’ uncle was a successful agent for India’s only life insurance company at the time and

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Which value metric works best?

I recently undertook a quick and dirty backtest on NIFTY stocks to verify whether buying a portfolio of the cheapest index stocks and rebalancing annually would beat the broader index. In spite of the fairly short period under test (nine years from 2008 to 2017), if you’re a value investor, the results are encouraging. From Sep 2008 to Aug 2017, ignoring transaction costs and dividends, a 10 stock value portfolio returned 18% annually compared to 9.8% for the NIFTY. The details of the test and outcomes are in the post ‘Can buying cheap NIFTY stocks beat the index‘ For this test,

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Can buying cheap NIFTY stocks beat the index?

Legendary value investors, past and present, and the best value investing blogs offer this as the one consistent message. Focus on buying stocks trading at relatively lower valuations to the market and the returns will take care of themselves. Ironically, the most-quoted “value investor” in the world, Warren Buffett deviated from this simplistic strategy a long time ago when he started buying “wonderful businesses” (brand, pricing power, future ability to generate cash with minimal capital) at fair prices over fair businesses at “wonderful prices” (current low price to book / other earnings multiples”. The term “wonderful business” has since then

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What is rare is not always valuable

Continuing the series on common cognitive biases that impact investors. In case you missed it, read the introduction and first in the series: neglect of probability here What is scarce is valuable – Scarcity Error In a research project in 1975, Prof. Stephen Worchel split participants into two groups. The first group received an entire box of cookies and the second group just two to taste. Both groups were then asked to rate the quality of the cookies. This was repeated several times. The 2nd group rated the quality of the cookies much higher than the other. Gallery owners place

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The difference between Possibility and Probability

Investor Cognitive Biases: Neglect of Probability In a classic experiment in 1972, participants were divided into two groups. Members of group 1 were told they would receive a small electric shock. Members of group 2 were told there was a 50% probability that they would receive a small electric shock. After this information was provided, researchers measured physical anxiety (heart rate, nervousness, sweating) shortly before starting. The result: Absolutely no difference in the anxiety levels of the two groups. Puzzling. Next, researchers announced a series of reduction in the probability of getting shocked to group 2, from 50% down to

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5 things not commonly known about the NIFTY

Earlier this week, NSE announced effective Sep 29, 4 stocks (ACC, Bank of Baroda, Tata Power, Tata Motors DVR) will be dropped and 3 (Bajaj Finance, Hindustan Petroleum, UPL) will be added to the NIFTY. When analysts talk about the performance of the “Indian Stock Market”, they are typically talking about the NSE NIFTY Index, and the BSE Sensex Index (to a lesser extent). Most investors know the NIFTY consists of 50 stocks (currently 51), of the largest companies by market capitalisation trading on the Indian markets. 5 things not commonly known about the NIFTY: 5. How the NIFTY 50

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Evaluating stocks with TCI Rapid X-Ray

So many stocks…So little time Investing is largely a process of elimination, and the more efficiently you can eliminate investments that do not check the boxes on your investing checklist, the more time you can spend diving deep into the ones that do. For equity investors in the Indian Stock Market, there are about 1,500 listed stocks on the NSE and nearly 5,000 on the BSE, to choose from when making investment decisions. Sure, there are ways to whittle that list down using filters of market capitalisation and sectors, but you’re still left with a few hundred potential investments to

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12 Axioms of Risk Reward followed by generations of Swiss Bankers

How is it that Switzerland, a tiny country, poor in natural resources and arable land, has one of the highest per capita incomes and standards of living in the world? This is the enticing premise with which Max Gunther opens his book The Zurich Axioms: The rules of risk and reward used by generations of Swiss bankers “The Swiss did not become the world’s bankers by sitting in dark rooms chewing their fingernails. They did it by facing risk head-on and figuring out how to manage it.” And therefore, the author says, there is a lot to learn about how

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