Whenever I meet people close to retirement / retired people I ask them for their best investments and their worst investment mistakes..and generally I get to hear the following:
1. Poor asset allocation: Not having any equity or not having enough equity is a huge regret. Not that these people are worried about their day to day living, but they are not at all happy with the size of the corpus. Surprisingly NONE of them think of it as an asset allocation mistake. They almost uniformly think it is bad luck that they do not have equity in their portfolio. One thing they commonly tell me is “I wish I had met you earlier”. Not blowing my own trumpet, but I agree. I convert everybody to at least a little bit of equity.
2. I wish I had paid attention to my portfolio: People who had bought shares over a long period of time had good shares like Colgate, Larsen, Hdfc, Hdfc bank, etc. but, but, but, MANY of them had lots of nonsense too. Most of them regret not paying attention to the portfolio and not cutting losses. Orkay, Patheja forging, Shaan Interwell, Krishna Filament, …name the shit and they have it. Technically speaking a mutual fund NEVER goes to zero but there have been instances esp in tech funds, E-commerce funds, etc. where this has happened.
3. I wish I had not averaged: While investing it is very difficult to guess whether to invest or not to invest in a falling market. Sometimes when you buy a share from 1200 right down to Rs. 70 and the price goes back to Rs. 1200, you look very smart and smug. However if the prices go from Rs. 1200 to Rs. 6 and stay there – and go further down, averaging would have looked foolish. So when things go wrong we blame the process.
4. I held too long and I sold too soon: maybe twin sides of the same coin? People have tons of regrets on selling all the shares too early or too fast – Hdfc bank, Axis bank, Kotak bank, Asian Paints, Page Industries, Jubilant, Procter and Gamble, – the list is endless. Especially when they had no use for that money. Or worse when they sold Wipro and invested in Silverline or sold Infosys to invest in Reliance Power. Hind sight bias.
5. I bought buying without doing the research myself: Even when the person who is telling you is brilliant, it is necessary to have a look at the balance sheet, market strength, etc. as well as use some logic, and then buy. Far, far, more important is to keep validating the beliefs. If you do not understand what is happening on a Quarter on Quarter – at least sell partially and keep booking profits. Still could have better !!
6. Very rare, but 3 people had deep and huge regret that they had bought real estate. This was more to do with them not getting delivery, dealing with a bad builder, project delay, etc. Largely all these 3 men could be partly blamed..but their retirement corpus was surely hurt.
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