Knowledge is Power
Oct 19, 2019

Author: Deepika Khude

Knowledge is power
(Image: Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay)

I have always thought that being inquisitive and curious about everything and anything is the fundamental requirement when it comes to individual growth and the Latin quote, "Scientia Potentia Est" (Knowledge is power) is one of my favorite quotes to throw around.

On a late Saturday evening, while out on an evening 'brunch' with a bunch of college friends, I understood just how powerful and profound the Latin quote is.

So a bunch of us are sitting at a cafe, enjoying our high-price Mocca-lattes when the overly dramatized millennial topic, "too much work; too little pay", unraveled an intense argument. Everyone around the table was complaining how they earned peanuts even after working for 12 hour shifts in IT and how after working for the last 4-5 years, they had little over a couple of lakhs to show as savings.

[Read: Looking For The Best Mutual Funds This Diwali? Read This!]

Quite obviously, everyone turned to me, (the financial planner) to make some sense of the situation.

Before I could reply, my IT buddy, Subodh, quipped, "Yeh to financial planner hai, iske paas toh lakhs ki savings hongi"! (She is a financial planner, so obviously she must be having lakhs in savings).

My friends echoed the sentiment and the gyaani of our group, Nikhil, (an engineer) said, 'Mutual funds and stocks main paise kamana toh sabse easy hai'. Hum sab lakho kama sakte hai'. (Earning money in mutual funds and stocks is very easy. We can all earn in lakhs).

I decided to click the bait and asked, 'How do you propose on doing that, Einstein?'

Smug came the reply, 'This is the 21st century... there is infinite information available on the internet about investments and how to become rich and successful using the stock markets, which even a layman like me can leverage to build a fortune. All you need is luck.'

Not one to take this lying down, I said, 'You know Nikhil, Ralph Waldo Emerson (American philosopher) brilliantly said, "Shallow men believe in luck, strong men believe in cause and effect".'

Yes, you do need luck on your side when you are gambling with your hard earned money, but when it comes to wealth creation, I have noticed that the quote by Thomas Jefferson holds more weight, 'I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it'.  

'So, while we can sit in our "branded clothes", in an expensive cafe, drinking our "too-pricy-for-just-tea" lattes, the truth is wealth creation is all but a function of your savings. Just by skipping your weekly visits to such cafes can build you immense wealth! Surprised? Let me show you...'

For instance, the average cost of a venti banana smoothie in Starbucks is Rs 405 (excluding tax), a croissant or pie will cost you another Rs 250-300, and add to that the colorful Frappuccino that you have to have for Instagram. The total bill (including tip & taxes) would be around Rs 1,000. So on an average, you spend around Rs 4,000/month on teas and coffees which you can drink at a tapri (tea stall) for approximately Rs 600- Rs700 a month. Now if you invested this amount, this is how rich you would be:

Table 1: Investing Rs 4,000 per month in investment avenues 

Years 5 Years 10 Years 20 Years
Savings Account 262,628 575,403 1,391,524
Bank FD 284,227 677,261 1,972,310
Mutual Fund 329,945 929,356 3,996,592

'Rs 39 Lakhs! You can't be serious!?' Subodh gasped in disbelief.

'I never joke about money', I said with a smile.

'But how can we make this much money? Which schemes should we be investing in?', asked Subodh.

'Arey, go to google, type, top stocks and mutual funds, and voila, you will get a list of all the top mutual funds in the country, and then just pick and invest!', said the gyaani, Mr Nikhil.

I realized that somehow the countless disclaimers and 'Mutual Fund Sahi hai' advertisements had eluded Nikhil.

Frantically searching something on his mobile phone, Nikhil announced, like all India Radio, 'yeh dekh, isme invest kar, Axis Midcap Fund, last 1 year main 17.27% return hai! And 5 star rating bhi hai, aankh band kar and invest kar'. (Listen, invest blindly in Axis Midcap, the fund has a 1 year return of 17.27% and also has a 5-star rating).

'Do you know in calendar year 2016-17, 'Axis Midcap Fund' had given a return of -3.34%'.So, had you invested in the fund, expecting to withdraw your money after one year by earning the 17.27%, then you would have been fooled.' I countered.

'So, do I stick to bank FDs only and be content with 5-6% return?', asked a disheartened Subodh.

[Read: Are SIPs a Sure Shot Way to Achieve Your Financial Goals?]

'No, you can invest in mutual funds and earn inflation beating return, but only and only if, you have a time horizon and are aware of your risk profile. Funds like Axis midcap and other midcap funds are great for wealth creation, but only if you are an aggressive investor and stay invested for 8+years.'

Seeing their puzzled faces, I quickly realized that the above words were of a financial planner, not a friend. I rephrased, 'To quote in cricket terms, Sehwag ko test cricket ke liye and Dravid ko T20 ke liye nahi select kar sakte! Like every cricketer has a style, likewise every mutual fund category has a risk and investment strategy. '

Yes, invest with your eyes closed only when you have thoroughly analyzed a particular fund and can stay with the fund even during the tough times, because your fundamentals about the fund are strong. But if you cannot do the fundamental research on the fund, then rely on someone who can generate useful analysis from all the useless data available on the internet.

'So, Mutual Funds Sahi Hai?', asked Subodh and Nikhil with a smile.

'Yes but Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully. The NAVs of the schemes may go up or down depending upon the factors and forces affecting the securities market including the fluctuations in the interest rates', I said and all of us laughed out loud.

Bidding goodbye, I knew that our next meeting would in fact be at a tapri and not a cafe!

To quote, Criss Jami (American essayist), "In the age of technology there is constant access to vast amounts of information. The basket overflows; people get overwhelmed; the eye of the storm is not so much what goes on in the world, it is the confusion of how to think, feel, digest, and react to what goes on."

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