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As was broadly expected, RBI cut policy rates by 0.25%, taking repo rates down to 6%. This was brought about largely due to the annual retail inflation in June to be the slowest for over five years and as expectations for inflation going forward remain at about 4%, a number that RBI seems to be comfortable with. In addition low core inflation, a good monsoon thus far and a reasonably decent GST roll out thus far. They also held the stance as neutral which was expected, considering that too many shifts in policy could impact long term credibility.

The good news is that the 6 member committee decision was not unanimous – four members voted for 25 bps cut, the fifth voted for a 50 bps cut and the last one voted to maintain status quo.  Hence repo rate got reduced from 6.25% to 6%, reverse repo rate from 6% to 5.75% and marginal standing facility (MSF) rate from 6.5% to 6.25%.

Big Image- What does the Monetary Policy mean for RBI monetary stance

Focus on the real rate of return

With interest rates remaining subdued, there is a tendency to want to take greater risk on the portfolio to achieve a higher absolute rate of return. We think that it is critical that investors focus on real rates of return ie the return after inflation on their portfolios. We believe RBI continues to keep its focus on real rates of return at 1.5% – 2%, which makes fixed income attractive at this stage. Avoid higher risk strategies in chasing a higher rate of return in the current environment, as the risk return trade off may not be favorable.

Your Investments

The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The neutral stance does not mean that there won’t be any future rate cuts, but it does seem like rate cuts going forward may be slow and investors expecting a repeat of the returns from bonds made over the last few years, are likely to be disappointed, if they have very high expectations.  The bond and equity markets had probably already priced in this 0.25% rate cut and thus they did not react  to this announcement. It may be a good idea to have bond fund exposure being weighted two thirds towards accrual/hold to maturity strategies and one third towards duration/dynamic strategies. With global bond yields in developed markets headed upwards, investors in equities may need to be careful, especially with equity markets priced to perfection.

Your Loans

The RBI decision to cut its policy repo rate to 6 per cent is likely to lead to a further cut in the lending rates, especially home and car loans by banks. New borrowers can expect EMIs to come down and which would also cut down interest outgo over the loan tenure. Banks may come also up with promotional offers till the festival season to attract more customers. Old borrowers under the MCLR would have to wait until the next reset period to get the rate reset as normally rates are reset once in a year. There is also an option for the old borrowers of switching the loan portfolio to another lender. The decision to examine how the shift to MCLR has worked, considering that most loans are still linked to the base rate, would be interesting to watch closely as RBI has set up an expert committee to look into how monetary transmission can be more effective.

Way Forward

With inflation being the focus of the RBI, the factors determining inflation as mentioned in the Monetary Policy include:

(a) The impact on CPI of the implementation of house rent allowances (HRA) under the 7th central pay commission (CPC); could be estimated to have a 1% impact on inflation over the next 12-24 months

(b) The impact of the price revisions withheld ahead of the GST; and

(c) The movement of food and fuel inflation.

Watch out for inflation, the movement of the Indian rupee and how the economic slowdown led by weak manufacturing and cape data, till the next RBI policy on 4th October 2017.

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Crisis 5

In today’s ever changing world, with all the geo-political, social, and technological dynamics, job surety is no more a luxury anyone can afford. Be it the CEO of a M.N.C. or a mid level manager, the changing landscape compels us now more than ever to be prepared for the worst.

Even pilots aren’t immune to such extremes. From domestic industry uncertainties to global events, pilots need to be equipped to face such an eventuality. One such recent example is the Qatar diplomatic crisis. With the neighbouring countries cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar and shutting down their airspace for any Qatar bound plane or vice versa, a sense of being besieged looms in the country.  Now while this does not directly result in job losses, such incidents raise the fear, specifically for businesses closely linked to Qatar.

Therefore prudence calls for having certain provisions in place that can help ease this fear. A sort of backup or cushion for facing an event you might have never fathomed.

A checklist of such provisions could possibly look as follows:

Self funded health insurance coverage is important – Most pilots would argue that the employer already provides for this. But that’s the point right? What happens if you get the golden handshake? Guess what, no more health cover. And even if you get a new one, they always come with a waiting period. This means you won’t be covered for a certain period from any pre existing illness. This would not be a situation that you would like to end up with.

 

Personal Accident Policy and Critical Illness Policy coverage – Extending the above point, it’s critical that pilots have a personal accident and a critical illness policy. In the months of no income, one needs to ensure that one is covered for all kinds of risk. In cases where families may have accident or critical illness exigencies during such a period, such types of policies are a godsend. Such personal accident policies, for example provide the insured with either weekly allowances or in some cases a lump sum payout depending on the terms and features of the policy. These payouts can be used for medical expenses that come along with treating such eventualities.

 

An Emergency Fund is a must have – A highly liquid investment is the preferred choice to host such a fund, as it’s meant for immediate use. While Bank FDs and saving accounts is the age old choice, research and time has proven they are better options out there. One such alternative is Liquid Mutual Funds. These typically provide the similar liquidity and safety – principal features that a bank savings account offers, but with the added incentive of significantly higher returns on the investment. These returns currently are in the range of 6-7% versus 4% on your savings account.

 

The objective of this corpus should be to provide enough to maintaining the essential household expenses + EMIs in case of sudden exigencies and or temporary absence of income. Thumb rule states this corpus should ideally support 6 months of household expenses, including EMI’s and Insurance Premiums.

 

Move towards conservative assets – If you feel the crisis period is going to be prolonged then you are better off cutting down on riskier investments and moving towards conservative assets. Why so? Because liquidity needs could crop up anytime. Hence capital protection and not capital appreciation must take the driver’s seat.

 

While in all probability this crisis might be short lived, planning for it should not be left unattended. Like the saying goes, “Better to be safe than sorry”! And checking off this list could just go a long way in maintaining that safety net at all times, even when you might feel down in the dumps financially.

 

Till then, happy flying!!!

 

 

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Retirement 1Retirement is usually something that is not considered by most of us till we are nearing it, so naturally we do not plan for it, until it is probably too late. This general ignorance or lack of attention to retirement planning can have far reaching consequences.

Retirement planning in the simplest sense means preparing for life after the tenure of paid work ends.  This does not only include the financial aspect, but other aspects such as what to do during retirement, the lifestyle choices that one can take and what dreams one might want to pursue during the remainder of the years.

While the concept of Retirement Planning applies to pilots just as it does to other individuals, there are certain unique points that are exclusive to retirement planning for commercial pilots. These unique points are crucial while developing a retirement plan for a pilot.

Firstly, under the current DGCA rules, the retirement age in India has been pushed up to 65. This is an entire 5 years longer than the mandated retirement age in most other industries. This translates to more income earning years, probably at the highest salary slab of the industry, since usually pilots around this age are most likely to have their designations as Captain. This extra income earning period is crucial in formulating and ironing out the retirement plan before the pilot ultimately retires. The significant income flowing could be the difference between living a compromised and a fulfilling retirement.

One of the most important things a commercial pilot has to consider is Lifestyle Inflation. Because commercial pilots have one of the best salary packages amongst all industries, they tend to have more lavish lifestyles. And they are comfortably able to match up the ever increasing expenses that come alongside their lifestyle choices. But on retirement, the salary stops. Yet expenses continue to stay, with inflation only adding to it. But more significantly no one would want to compromise on their lifestyle they have become accustomed to. As such it becomes imperative to plan much ahead so that lifestyle compromises don’t become the norm during your golden years.

Just to drive home the impact of inflation, let’s take an example. Consider a pilot Mr. A, currently 30 years of age and has a monthly expenditure of Rs 12 lakhs every year (not a very high amount, from what we hear from our pilot clientele). Assuming he will retire at age 65 and taking an average of 8% lifestyle inflation till retirement,  the same Rs. 12 lakhs expenditure will inflate to approx Rs. 1.75 crores. In other words, to maintain the lifestyle that costs Rs 12 lakhs as of today, Mr. A would require Rs 1.75 Crores annually to maintain the same expenditure choices, forget upgrading!

Furthermore, pilots are used to having extremely busy schedules. So when retirement hits, they are unprepared to handle the ample time in hand. Hence they always look for options to keep themselves engaged. This could mean, taking long leisure trips or finding, researching on and investing lump sums in “exciting investment avenues”, committing money to be part of a start up or just following their long drawn passions or enrol at the local flying clubs just so that they can regularly indulge their lifetime love of flying. All this comes at hefty financial expenditures.

All of the above means that Pilots would need to plan and develop customized retirement plans for themselves to ensure a smooth flight during retirement.

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blog picPilots are probably one of the most stretched professionals when it comes to time management. The constant flux in schedules is always a hassle. Even when you are not flying you are on standby which means that you are still on your toes. The weekly off standard in the Indian Aviation industry is one day every week. And money matters are usually the last thing you want to tackle on such a day. Life is already stressful enough as it is!

By most industry standards, Indian pilots take away a very handsome salary. The more experienced you are, the more significant are your financial takeaways. But it is not all rosy all the time.

With the high earning potential at a pilot’s disposal, it becomes vital to channelize these earnings to fulfil a whole set of commitments and dreams that are unique to a pilot’s life, both during their career and post retirement.

But what are some of these unique problems that only pilots face? Pilots for once, have to always be medically fit. And for good reason! Priority to healthcare hence takes prime importance. Now a pilot reading this might say, oh we are covered by our company, so I don’t have to worry above covering any financial cost regarding my health. But if you really think about it, is that actually enough?

Another thing which pilots always need to be on top of is upgrading their skill sets. Not so much a unique item, but very important nonetheless. And it does not come cheap. Preparing for it well in advance can be far more beneficial than just scrapping up every penny at the last moment to fund for this expense.

One another issue is the state of aviation industry and opportunities. The last few years have clearly demonstrated that problems are plenty in the Indian aviation sectors. For e.g.  Airlines have closed down, (leading large time periods of unemployment), pay can be delayed significantly or indefinitely. All these lead to great financial complications for pilots and their families. Preparing for such circumstances is prudent and must at all times be actively considered.

Probably the biggest challenge a pilot will face is retirement! With no more significant inflows, you are faced with a very real possibility of compromising on your lifestyle just because of a lack of proper planning and this change is not easy! This struggle can be easily avoided with some proper and sustained guidance throughout the earning years so that you can live through your golden years in comfort all the while fulfilling your passions.

Pilots are well aware of the importance of planning. Every flight involves hours of preparation beforehand so that you can take the best possible decisions in terms of route, landing approach and understanding weather patterns of the areas you will fly through, just to mention a few!

As a fellow professional with a prime importance towards professional planning, it would be definitley worth your time for us to meet and discuss how to enrich your life!

Till then..Happy flying!

 

 

 

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policy3

Sixth bi monthly RBI Monetary Policy FY17

The RBI monetary policy committee ( MPC ) reiterated what it has indicated in its last meeting in December – concerns around core inflation continue to remain with seasonal impacts on currently low inflation on items like vegetables likely to go away over a period of time, a strong global recovery that could create inflationary risks though higher prices of commodities including oil, volatility in global currencies on the back of rate hikes in some developed economies and some pass through of the HRA component of the 7th pay commission implementation.

Whilst none of this was really new, there continues to be a view that what the MPC says and what they will do are different from each other. With two consecutive policies that have reiterated the same thing, we believe that markets will finally believe that the MPC means what they say, and their actions will be consistent with the same.

It is therefore critical to continue to remember that managing inflation in the 4-5% pa range continues to be the number one priority of the RBI , and therefore decisions are likely to be taken keeping this in mind, more than other data points.

Your investments

The RBI also moved its policy stance to ‘ neutral ‘ from ‘accommodative ‘ which possibly means that the interest rate cuts from its side are probably coming to an end. This may mean that investment strategies that were driven around interest rate cuts need to be pared down. However, we need to remember that a neutral policy does not mean that interest rates are going to go up on bonds and fixed income instruments, so there is no need for a complete change in investment strategy on fixed income side. A strong global recovery as indicated in the policy statement ,is actually excellent news for the Indian economy, as a global growth environment has traditionally been positive for Indian companies, and therefore one should expect corporate earnings to get better going forward. The MPC has also indicated that they expect the economy to start showing a recovery going forward, so investments in equities could be enhanced for longer term investors. One also needs to remember that even thought RBI has probably stopped cutting interest rates, banks would possibly continue to cut loan rates as the transmission of the 1.75% rate cuts have only been about 0.85% to 0.9%, meaning that corporate India could continue to see lower loan rates going forward, helping their bottomline.

Your loans

With the banking sector flush with funds, and transmission only partially done, you can expect to see loan rates continue to drop for individual borrowers as well. It is a good time to refinance your loans, especially your home loan, in case you have not done so already. Be choosy about the loan provider that you use, as different variants of loans available could mean that you need to pick what works best for you.

April 6 is the next date to watch for the MPC meeting – expect some volatility in bond and currency markets till then, as they react to this shift to a neutral stance as well as other global events.

 

 

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Whilst there was a consensus view of RBI cutting repo rates today, with only the extent of the rate cut being questioned (would it be 0.25% or 0.5%?), Urjit Patel or rather the monetary policy committee (MPC) sprung a surprise by keeping rates unchanged. Both equity and bond markets reacted negatively to this as they were pricing in at least a 0.25% cut.

RBI was probably concerned by multiple factors – volatility in global financial markets that could be caused by a Fed rate hike, issues in the Eurozone, oil price rises, and the potential stickiness of consumer inflation around non food components.

One needs to remember that inflation targeting continues to be the core role of the RBI moving forward, and any risks to inflation are likely to result in a more conservative approach, tilted towards managing inflation in the inflation growth trade off.  In addition, the focus towards management by data is a significant positive, as markets can sometimes allow emotions to override incoming data, that may be to the contrary.

MPC pic

Your investments

The demonetisation impact on the Indian economy continues to be rather speculative in our opinion, with a very wide range of possible outcomes,. and data around the same is likely to continue to throw up surprises. For example, we have seen over the last few weeks, the quantum of cash deposits that have come back to the banking system have been significantly larger than originally anticipated. In light of the need to take portfolio investment decisions basis data, it may be prudent to look for broader trends to capture through your investment strategy for example fixed income products continue to offer a real rate of return in the region of close to 2%, continuing to make fixed income investments an attractive option. With liquidity continuing to be significant, it would be prudent to look at locking into current interest rates, through a combination of accrual oriented short term and medium term funds, tax free bonds and to also cover reinvestment risk. A portion of the fixed income allocations can continue to be allocated to taking the benefits of falling interest rates, by investing into dynamic bond funds where the fund manager has the flexibility to move portfolio durations driven by incoming data. Equity investors may need to enhance exposures gradually through a combination of rupee averaging and value averaging strategies, as the potential slowdown on the back of a US rate hike and a consumption slowdown driven by demonetisation, is balanced by possible liquidity flows from Japan and the EU, as well as equity prices, especially of large cap indices, now at levels much closer to fair value after the recent correction.

Your loans

With the expectation of cost of funds for banks coming down post demonetisation, banks’ lending rates are likely to continue to slide further down. Since April 1, 2016, when the MCLR was introduced, most banks have been reducing it gradually as their cost of funds came down. The huge inflow of funds post demonetisation could make them cut MCLR  further. Thus one can expect loan rates to continue to head downwards, creating some additional consumption or investing surpluses for families with loans.

Way Ahead

The RBI is clearly aware of the danger to the GDP growth rate and possible liquidity outflows, driven by the twin impact of demonetization and higher interest rates in the US. Thus a wait and watch policy may actually be a great idea. Whilst everyone will await the next policy on Feb 8th, one needs to remember that action by the RBI can also be done prior to that if necessary, and therefore should not be ruled out. After all, surprises and the independent nature of the RBI are back in fashion.

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In its first Policy the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by newly appointed RBI Governor Urjit Patel cut policy rates by 0.25% taking repo rates down to 6.25%. The way rates are decided is different from what it was before. It is now a 6 member committee which decides rates instead of the Governor alone. The MPC was unanimous in their decision to reduce interest rates by 0.25% today.

MPC pic

Focus on the real rate of return

With interest rates falling, there is a tendency to want to take more risk on the portfolio to achieve a higher absolute rate of return. We think that it is critical that investors focus on real rates of return ie the return after inflation on their portfolios. RBI continues to want to keep real rates of return between 1.25% and 1.5%, which makes fixed income attractive, even if you generate a lower return that what you generated a few years ago. Avoid higher risk strategies in chasing a higher rate of return in the current environment.

Your Investments

The rate cut came largely on the back of improved inflation numbers close to 5% in August compared to close to 6% in the month of July. Whilst food inflation, which was a big driver of inflationary pressures, seems to have come off very sharply, there continue to be risks of higher inflation due to the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) post the announcement of the GST rates by the GST Council, the Seventh pay commission and the merger of the railway budget and the Union Budget which could impact the fiscal deficit by 0.15 to 0.25%. With an inflation target of of 4% +/-2%, the inflation numbers seem to be well under control at this point. The bond and equity markets had already priced in this 0.25% rate cut and thus they did not react aggressively to this announcement. Thus, whilst there continues to be a 0.25% rate cut possibility from here onwards, the timing of the same will be driven by other data, including what happens globally with interest rates. With growth rates continuing to become healthier in India, equity markets may continue to hold up in spite of their premium valuations at this point, as earnings could continue to be supported by lower interest costs. Therefore, the strategy would be to use a combination of domestic and US equity along with bond funds, with the bond fund exposure being weighted more towards accrual and short term strategies, and less towards duration and dynamic strategies. On the liquidity front RBI policy remains accommodative and nothing has changed on that front.

Your Loans

The loan rates get decided by Marginal Cost of funds based Lending Rate (MCLR). The transmission that has happened is lower than what everyone had expected. Therefore on the loan side you could continue to expect some relief, though it may be lower than what is expected.

Way Forward

The December policy will, to some extent, depend on the data flow and market expectations of the US Federal Reserve decision on hiking interest rates or not. Let us watch for the next RBI policy on 6 December 2016.

Image Credits: www.canstockphoto.com

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