Hari Kant Prasher, a Senior Manager in the telecommunication industry, came to Mumbai along with his wife, Bandana Prasher, from a satellite town in Northern India north with dreams of making it big in the city and the world. While Hari Kant had little exposure to mutual funds during the earlier years of his career, an unplanned set of investments culminated into an unpleasant experience. His financial plans revolved around traditional savings products, including guaranteed income products, bank deposits. With bigger aspirations and dreams, he approached S-Cube Associates in 2006. There were multiple financial goals to target in devising a prudent financial plan. It had to start with creating an emergency fund to cope with any financial insecurities, having a life and medical insurance, buying a car and house apart from saving enough to take care of his parents and children’s education and marriage.
Due to his not-so-good experience with mutual fund investing in the past, it was essential to build that confidence in Hari Kant to reinvest in mutual funds. This started with some debt fund investments to take care of the emergency corpus. Salil Gupta, S-Cube Associates, recalls the initial years with Hari Kant, “We could see that the progress towards financial goals was slow. It felt like nothing was changing for good. The portfolio returns suffered as initial savings were all going in low-yielding debt funds for emergency corpus. However, we focused on managing risk. Market corrections in 2011-12 helped our strategy of prudent risk management, as Hari Kant’s portfolio could survive brutal corrections.”
During the investment journey, Hari Kant also had commendable career growth, and the challenges shifted from coping up financially to managing finances. With the market valuations getting better with the falling markets, Hari Kant was convinced to grow the equity exposure. Further, the increasing income brought new aspirations, bigger house plans, better career dreams for children, a better lifestyle, and a philanthropic mindset. All this required consistent efforts and higher investments, for which his SIP investments were gradually increased through SIP top-up. The fall of 2016-17 was not entirely unacceptable but was used aggressively to increase equity exposure further while following the optimal asset allocation plan.
Another important aspect was to enlarge the emergency fund to match the higher lifestyle expenses. Timely reviewing your asset allocation, as the prospect of job change, loomed on the horizon. Gupta helped Hari Kant align the asset allocation with the changing contours while simultaneously helping him with taxation and liquidity.
Hari Kant was also advised to partially allocate his SIP investments towards international funds, which insulated him for the currency risk on one of his financial goals for his son’s education abroad. Currently, his elder son is ready for graduation in Europe. SIP Plus facility in mutual funds has also been used to take care of the life cover needs for Hari Kant and his family.
Connecting lives through his work, Hari Kant has patiently connected his goals with his investments. Over time, the financial aspirations have been achieved effortlessly, while some of the continuing goals have also been enhanced due to the persistent investing strategy adopted by him.
Hari Kant sums up his investment journey across the last 15 years with the following lessons:
1. Importance of Asset allocation and Emergency Fund – Hari Kant shares, “Having a balanced investment portfolio is always helpful. While asset allocation is dynamic, a periodic portfolio review can be done to align it with the changing risk profile and financial goals. We used to have an annual portfolio review with Gupta, which also helped us to identify underperforming schemes and replace them with better ones.”
2. Not Taking Risks When You Can is Also a Risk – It is a natural human tendency that the risk appetite of an individual tends to lower with age. As such, one may consider taking higher risks when the financial goals are distant. This helps because, in case of any deviation in the financial plan, the investor can take suitable corrective action well in time. However, going conservative during the earlier years may not help the wealth creation journey much, as lower returns during the earlier years finally culminate into lower compounding benefits.
3. Link Your Investment in Mutual Funds to Specific Goals – It is always beneficial to link mutual fund investments to specific goals. It helps the investors keep the emotional biases (like greed, fear) away from the investing journey.
4. Select Appropriate Scheme as per Your Goals – One should always select the scheme type according to the goal, especially matching the investment horizon with a suitable asset class. For example, debt may be considered appropriate for short-term goals but may not be suitable for long-term ones due to lower returns. Similarly, equity may have been great wealth creators over the long term but may be volatile over the short term. As such, the scheme should be aligned suitably with the financial goals. Hari Kant shares, “I was concerned about the goal of my son’s education abroad inflating significantly due to adverse foreign currency movements. We chose an international fund linked to that goal to mitigate that risk since the portfolio of such a fund was also getting favourably impacted by the adversity.”
5. Keep Assessing Any Changes in Financial Aspirations – One should continue to be on the lookout to assess any changes in the financial aspirations and review the financial goals accordingly. In case one gets some surplus money, the investments can be enhanced suitably through SIP top-up, which can help enlarge the corpus towards financial goals or enhance the overall retirement corpus.
Financial Planning of Hari Kant Prasher and Bandna Prasher is based on the “personal opinion and experience” of Salil Gupta, Proprietor, S-Cube Associates. It should not be considered professional financial investment advice. No one should make any investment decision without first consulting their advisor and conducting research and due diligence.
Salil Gupta, Proprietor, S-Cube Associates