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The shift in RBI’s stance came, but not in the repo rate as most people were expecting today.The Monetary Policy Committee ( MPC) decided to change the stance from neutral to “calibrated tightening” of monetary policy, which in plain English means that rate cuts are probably off the table, and RBI can decide on when to raise or not raise rates depending on how fresh data comes in.

Whilst a 0.25% hike in the repo rate was the consensus view of the expected MPC action today, with some even expecting a 0.5% hike, the policy statement surprised markets – bonds positively, equities and the rupee negatively, with RBI choosing to do nothing, as MPC members voted 5:1 in favor of an unchanged repo rate at 6.50%. This was also probably driven by the fact that there have been two consecutive rate hikes in the last two MPC meetings.

They stuck with their primary mandate i.e. controlling inflation, with the objective to achieve medium term target for CPI inflation of 4 percent within the range of +/- 2%, while supporting growth.

Since the last MPC meet in August 2018, the Indian basket of crude oil has increased sharply by US$ 13 a barrel, whilst global economic activity has been able to withstand ongoing trade tensions thus far. Food inflation has remained unusually weak, which imparts a downward bias to its trajectory in the second half of the year. The risk to the food inflation from a 9% deficit in the monsoon, is also probably mitigated by higher production of major kharif crops for 2018-19 than last year’s record. An estimate of the impact of an increase in minimum support prices (MSPs) announced in July has been factored in the baseline projections.

The projected inflation in Q2:2018-19 is at 4%, 3.9%-4.5% in the second half and 4.8% in Q1:2019-20 with risks on the upside, which were lower than earlier estimates.

With risks broadly balanced GDP growth projection for 2018-2019 was lowered at 7.4% against 7.5 % in August due to strong base effect.Private consumption has remained strong and is likely to be sustained even as the recent rise in oil prices may have a bearing on disposable incomes. However, both global and domestic financial conditions have tightened, which may dampen investment activity. Rising crude oil prices and other input costs may also drag down investment activity by denting profit margins of corporates. This adverse impact will be alleviated to the extent corporates are able to pass on increases in their input costs. Uncertainty surrounds the outlook for exports. The recent rupee depreciating could be negated by slowing down of global trade and the escalating tariff wars.

Global headwinds in the form of escalating trade tensions, volatile and rising oil prices, and tightening of global financial conditions therefore pose substantial risks to the growth and inflation outlook.

Your Investments

As we see change in stance from neutral to calibrating tightening signals that rate cuts are off the table. Concerns seem to be around crude oil prices, global interest rates and the ongoing global developments on the trade front. Equities continue to trade at a premium and whilst it may be very tempting to buy lumpsums as equities have fallen substantially, equity valuations in India continue to be elevated vis a vis long term averages. A gradual entry strategy or a continued SIP/STP strategy is most suited to the current market scenario. It may be a good idea to add fixed income exposure through a combination of largely ultra short term, short and medium term strategies focused on high credit quality portfolios, to avoid any spillover of the continuing bad loan cycle on your investments.

Your Loans

After hiking the repo rate twice in a row, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has kept the key policy rates unchanged. However, the central bank has changed its stance on the key policy rates to ‘calibrated tightening’. This indicates that RBI is of the view that there is upward pressure on interest rates which means your EMIs are likely to continue ti go up. Expect banks to raise rates gradually even though RBI kept rates constant today.

Way forward

The next policy is due on December 5, but don’t be surprised for mid course corrections if the data so warrants. Ultimately that’s what caliberated tightening probably alludes to.

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The-falling-indian-rupee

Often when the exchange rates cross a threshold, the stock markets get jittery and turn volatile. In the last year or so, the rupee has depreciated over 10 percent against the US dollar. Weakening of the rupee can be attributed to the following factors – increase in crude oil prices, rising US yields , US stand on tariffs, weakness in emerging markets, slowdown of foreign inflows into India.

Negatives of a weak rupee

Depreciating rupee increases the cost of imports. India being a large importer of crude oil, a weak rupee adversely affects inflation. A high inflation rate contributes to an increase in the household expenses. This means lesser savings which has an effect on your overall personal finances. As inflation and interest rates move in the same direction, consistent high inflation rates could lead to an increase in interest rates making loans expensive. A depreciating rupee also has a negative impact on any expenses to be made overseas such as foreign education and travel.

Benefits of a weak rupee

A weak rupee would benefit NRIs making remittances into India and also benefits redemption of foreign currency denominated investments. However, it can have a mixed effect on equity investors depending on how exposed or diversified their portfolio is.

Investors of mutual funds having exposure to foreign stocks benefit when the rupee depreciates. International funds have two ways of generating returns – performance of the underlying stocks and currency movement. In recent times, such investments have gained from the rupee’s depreciation.

Incase of a well-diversified long-term portfolio rupee depreciation would not have too much of an impact. However, individual stocks would see volatility if they are in the export or import business, or are financing them.

 

Impact on your investments and budget

The recent, sharp decline in the rupee will impact not just your planned vacation abroad or studies in a foreign country, but also your investments and budget. Find out how to counter its debilitating effects.

A – Monthly budget

THE IMPACT: Imported commodities like fuel or medicines, or products that depend on imported inputs for their manufacturing will become expensive. These can include FMCG products like soaps and detergents, which use crude oil as the base, as well as cars and electronic goods, which depend on components from abroad.

YOUR STRATEGY: Rationalise your spending by slashing discretionary spends like those on entertainment and travel, and it may help cushion the hike in prices of essential items.

 

B – Salary

 

THE IMPACT: The rupee’s fall may also result in shrinking pay cheques for some especially in industries that are dependent on imports since it results in an increase in production and operation costs. To keep their margins intact these companies could cut costs one of which is human resources. Hence doling out lower increments and a freeze on hiring may be an option.

 

YOUR STRATEGY: IF your skill sets are aligned only to the sector you are in, a job switch may lead to an above-average hike.

 

C – Investments

 

  1. EQUITY INVESTMENTS

 

THE IMPACT

– It may result in an FII exodus, both from equity and debt markets.

– It could raise inflation and the RBI may raise rates which further hurts business input costs.

– A depreciation of Rs 1 against the USD increases oil under-recoveries by Rs 9,000 crore. This is a negative for oil marketing companies(OMCs) and worsens the fiscal deficit.

– While the exporters benefit, import businesses suffer.

– The companies with foreign debt may find it difficult to service it.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

– Stay with defensive sectors like IT, pharma and FMCG for now.

– Since the RBI is not expected to cut rates soon, avoid high-beta, rate-sensitive sectors like real estate and infrastructure for now.

– Since the rupee depreciation will compound asset quality issues, it is better to concentrate on private-sector banks or some PSU banks with high asset quality.

-The government may not allow OMCs to pass on the additional import costs before elections, so avoid these till there is clarity.

– The companies with high foreign debt are in a precarious situation, so steer clear of these for the time being.

– To diversify impact invest in equities via mutual funds as single stock exposures could drag your portfolio

 

  1. DEBT INVESTMENTS

 

THE IMPACT

– Bond yields expected to remain under pressure at the longer end.

– There is a chance that RBI may keep or hike repo rates so interest rate hardening is expected.

– The FII outflow from the debt market due to depreciation fears can raise yields; the 10-year yield has already gone up in the past few days making long term debt volatile.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

-Since the interest rates are expected to be volatile, it would be prudent to stay in short term debt papers and accrual/hold to maturity investments.

– Credit risk strategies would be an aggressive bet given the current scenario

– Do not resort to a knee-jerk strategy shift.

 

  1. GOLD

 

THE IMPACT

– Dollar appreciation brings down the international gold price. Currently, it is below $1,200/ ounce, a 34-month low.

– However, the rupee depreciation cushions a part of the global crash.

– Gold accounts for a big part of the current account deficit, so the government may take further measures to stem its import, cushioning the domestic price.

 

YOUR STRATEGY

– Investors with only a small strategic exposure to gold can continue to hold on to it.

– Those with a high exposure to the yellow metal should use any rally as an opportunity to book profit.

 

  1. REAL ESTATE

 

THE IMPACT

INTEREST RATE: The biggest casualty of rupee volatility is the expected rate increase by the RBI. This may reduce the demand and holding power of builders. So, it’s a negative as far as the real estate prices are concerned.

 

NRI: These are the major consumers of Indian real estate and rupee depreciation makes it more affordable for them. This may raise realty demand.

 

INFLATION: Since the material costs go up, along with the inflation, it may put an upward pressure on real estate prices as well.
YOUR STRATEGY: Real estate is already overvalued and, therefore, it makes sense to book profit on your investments (other than your primary residence).

 

CONCLUSION

Assuming there is a decline in the prices of oil and other commodities, the Indian investors might still not benefit as the rupee depreciation could negate the price reduction. The depreciating rupee could pressurise the domestic inflation situation. As India is an import intensive country, the domestic costs will rise on account of rupee depreciation mainly due to fuel prices and its spiralling effects.

Exchange rates definitely have an impact on our lives and they cannot be ignored. Most people may say that it does not affect me, but as can be seen from the blog above, it surely does. If you can note the above impacts and trends and understand the strategies suggested, you would be better prepared to face the effects of a falling rupee on your personal finances.

 

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Rakshabandhan is an auspicious day in India. The festival signifies love and affection between brothers and sisters. It is a time where brothers reaffirm their duty to protect and care for their sisters during their entire life.

Usually brothers gift cash and or gifts to their sisters as a sign of their love. But what if you could give them something that will truly be there in their life? A sound piece of contribution could end being a much more significant gesture in the long run, both personally as well as her financial future.

Sounds to good to be true? Well here are some options you can consider:

Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) Investments: An easy option, but not not many know it can be gifted or that it can be started with an amount as low as Rs 500 per month. Also, one can not only do SIPs into mutual funds (either equity or debt) but certain blue chip equity stocks as well. So forget those fancy gifts for once and gift your sister that will truly be there for her in the future

Systematic Withdrawal Plans (SWP): A rather new feature in the Indian Mutual Fund environment. Certain AMCs now allow you to initiate an SWP, which essentially is the opposite of SIP such that money flows from the mutual fund to your bank account at pre – specified periods and at specific amounts; but with the added benefit that you can chose your relatives to be the beneficiary of this inflow rather than yourself. Another benefit of such a SWP is that because this inflow would be considered a gift in the hands of your relative, there is no tax applicable to the receiver of this SWP. Perfect way to support your sister with cash flow needs!

Insurance Cover: Few things may convey that you truly care for your sister’s health than an adequate health insurance cover. Now more than ever, health insurance is the need of the hour with parallel rise in not only health costs but also increase in reports of lifestyle diseases and ailments. A health insurance cover will insure that your sister is never financially affected by these hurdles.

On the other hand, providing a term cover for your sister who may have her own financial dependants is a warm way of showing that you are there to share her responsibilities

Estate Planning: This almost always is a personal and complicated topic. But having a solid estate plan is as important as any other life decision. And as a brother you could be the trusted guide to helping her make this important decision.

Furthermore, you yourself can be a part of Estate Planning as a potential guardian to her underage children. Or possibly a trustee in case she needs to make a trust. Ensuring one’s hard earned assets are bequeathed as they intended to is a huge responsibility and who better than a brother to take this up

Gold: The yellow metal will protect her from any economic crisis and will act as hedge during volatile times.But not the cumbersome physical gold that comes with its own headaches and costs. Rather you should consider paper gold i.e. instruments that invest into gold themselves or track their prices. These instruments range from Gold ETFs to the Sovereign Gold Bonds

On this day brothers take a pledge to protect and take care of their sisters under all circumstances. We at Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors understand the enormity of this pledge. And through our experience of understanding the complexities of money and human emotions, we also pledge to help you ensure that your sister stays financially secure in her lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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bias

It is a well known fact that human cognitive abilities and emotions both have a huge say on how one goes about investing, both negative and positive. However it is the negative side of such aspects that come to front more often that not. Such obstacles are usually termed as “biases”.

This article looks to highlight and explain some of the common “biases” which tends to prove a hindrance to an investor from achieving his or her’s investment objective. As fundamental part of human nature, these biases can affect all types of investors. Therefore understanding them may help you to avoid such pitfalls.

  1. Overconfidence: It is common for people from all walks of life to see their abilities to be superior than the rest. But by definition of average, 50% of individuals would be lesser than average. Hence not everyone can be better off than others every single time. Whilst this high level of confidence can help in overcoming loss sooner, it also quite often leads to poor decision making. Examples: Taking too much risk in your strategies; Trading more often than what is required; Confusing luck for skill
  1. Anchoring Bias: This occurs when an investor is basing his decision to either buy or sell on arbitrary price levels. Example: An investor has bought a stock ‘X’ at Rs. 100 and has risen to Rs 140. However the stock price starts declining backed by deteriorating fundamentals. Here the investor holds on to the stock nonetheless in the belief that the stock will return to its previous price point of Rs 140, even though data may not back the case.
  1. Endowment Bias: Sometimes an investor adds an irrational premium to as asset that he/she is holding which would be higher than the amount they are willing to pay for that same asset if they had to acquire it. This usually happens for reasons such as familiarity/family value of the asset or simply to avoid transaction/tax cost. Example: Real estate owners often set the selling price of the property higher than the maximum prices they themselves would be willing to pay for it
  1. Problem of Inertia: The failure of a person to act on items, even those he has agreed on, is called Inertia. Inertia often acts as a barrier to effective investment and financial planning. This is usually caused from uncertainty on how to proceed forward and results in an individual taking the path of least resistance i.e. wait and watch approach. One way to bypass this is “Automation”. Putting your monthly investments on autopilot i.e. SIPs in case of mutual funds is a popular way of removing inertia and adding discipline to your investments
  1. Confirmation Bias: It is human nature for an individual to seek out views and information that support their own choices and thought process; and ignore those which do not. The same is often viewed amongst investors in their decisions.  While doing research, investors often find all sorts of positives while glossing over the red flags in trying to “confirm” the return potential of the investment.  As a result, this bias results in a poor, one-sided decision making process.

Whilst there are potentially more such biases that are identified, the above mentioned ones are the more common and frequent ones that should be actively avoided as far as possible. Human nature is such that there is no “remedy” for it. However by greater awareness and through taking professional advice from advisors, you could stand a higher chance of effectively navigating these hurdles.

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The-Beginner_s-Guide-to-Index-Investing

According to SPIVA India Year End Report 2017, S&P BSE 100 climbed 33.3% whilst S&P BSE MidCap rose by 49.9% for the calendar year 2017. Stellar returns! Question is, did your actively managed mutual fund do the same? As per the SPIVA report, 59.38% of large cap funds under performed their benchmark, whereas 72.09% of mid/small cap funds under performed their benchmarks.

We have started to notice a trend in Indian Equities where the actively managed funds are in the nascent stages of showing continuous under performance viz a viz their respective benchmarks. Even with a three-year time line, 53% of large cap funds have under performed whilst a whopping 80% of mid/small cap funds have under performed their benchmarks!

These data points certainly raise the question of whether passive managed investment strategies should be seriously considered now. Are funds and ETFs which passively just track a particular index the next big thing?

Two major reasons to consider a passive investment option into equity are

  1. Returns especially over long investment horizons and for those who wish to nullify fund manager bias; and
  2. Lower Costs

1

As you may notice, Index Funds/ETF’s can provide sufficient returns over long terms, though they are yet not on the same level as the top performing actively managed equity funds.

2

This is where passive managed strategies truly out do actively managed funds i.e. significantly lower costs.

Besides the above mentioned points, passively managed investments also provide added benefits such as (1) reducing fund manager bias, (2) a diversification strategy that can allow for less volatility, (3) passive funds are more favourable treated from a tax perspective when compared debt instruments.

One recent event that puts passive funds in a more positive light is the recent SEBI notification and the mutual fund recategorization. Due to the clear-cut guidelines for large cap funds i.e. can only invest into stock 1-100 as per market cap, it is likely that fund managers will find it increasingly difficult to generate favourable alpha considering the high costs associated with these funds. Therefore index funds that capture the Sensex or Nifty may find significant favor moving forward as an alternate to large cap funds.

However, they are certain limitations to Index Funds/ETFs in India, such as:

  1. Fewer options: They are not a ton of options available for the investor in the Index Funds/ETF space. Therefore one requires to do thorough research before choosing which instrument to select.
  2. Onus still on Active Managed Funds: The top quartile of actively managed equity funds, which also have most of the assets under management, continue to currently outperform their respective indices in certain time horizons, despite their higher costs. And this trend will not vanish over night.
  3. Inefficient Markets: Unlike Western Countries, where efficient markets negate the need for active management, the Indian Equity Market is still somewhat far from that state. Hence opportunities continue to remain which can be exploited by experienced fund managers/investors.
  4. Liquidity and Tracking Error: For ETFs, liquidity has been a major concern. Retail investors are often forced to hold onto their investments even when they would wish to redeem the same.

Furthermore, how well the fund/ETF tracks the relative index needs to be assessed. A lower tracking error would justify the inclusion of that instrument into your portfolio.

3

What should you do?

At Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors, we feel as an investor it is crucial to introduce passively managed instruments into your portfolio at this juncture. While the debate of active v/s passive will go on, it feels certain to us that a blend of strategies is the need of the hour. What instruments you choose and the allocation of them in your portfolio depends on your risk profile as well as your investment objectives and return expectations.

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retirement

It is one of the biggest, if not biggest, money question that often keeps people awake at night. The uncertainty of whether what you have earned and saved is enough for that dreamy retirement life can be quite stressful. And it is this ambiguity that often leads to making incorrect assumptions which, in a vicious cycle, leads to misguided money decisions.

Through this blog, we hope to focus of some items that need to be looked at to better judge just how much preparations you need for your Golden Years.

  1. Goals:

First of all, it is important to accept that your retirement will not mean doing absolutely nothing for the remainder of your life. Chances are you would still be at least partially responsible for your child’s post graduation/ marriage. If not those, then planning for those holidays and long travel plans, or having a dedicated medical corpus or even starting philanthropy or your own consultancy would need financial planning and funds.

There even might be recurring goals to consider such as cars. If you drive a Honda City today, chances are you would want similar car throughout your life. Assuming a Honda City costs Rs 13.75 lakhs as of today, you would need Rs 65.8 lakhs at the start of retirement just to fund purchasing the same car every 5 years (accounting for 7.7% inflation)

 

  1. Your Current Expenses:

While we usually have approximate amounts in our heads, rarely do we know our exact expenses for a year. If you think you may know, even so the detailed expenses are not known. If you do track and compare average expenses of the year versus that of two years ago, you would probably see higher than expected changes. This is due to inflation and lifestyle changes. It is critical to keep tabs on your expenses, as discretionary expenses tend to creep up and inflate your overall expenses.

  1. Changing Expenses during Retirement:

It is common notion that expenses will reduce once you retire. But data and experience shows otherwise. For example: Travelling and Medical costs tend rise whilst dependent cost tend to go down and groceries tend to remain the same.

Also, how expenses change depend on the stage retirement you are at. Early on during retirement sees uptick in expenses due to higher travel and entertainment costs. Then they slowly start coming down in the intermittent phase of retirement. Towards your super senior years, they tend to same constant.

  1. Medical Costs:

As per Willis Tower Watson Global Medical Trends Survey Report 2018, medical inflation in India is currently at 11.3% p.a. In other words, the cost of the same surgery will double every 6.5 years! Your retirement needs to plan for this.

  1. Lifestyle Expenses:

Urban inflation is around 7.7% p.a. on an average in the past 20 years. But that does not account for everything. We aspire for better things during our retirement. For example, you would have a Sony Home Theatre System which would cost approximately Rs 35,000. But aspirations would strive for a Bose System which is closer to Rs 90,000. That is a 181% jump! It is crucial to have both sets of inflation accounted for during retirement.

  1. Life Expectancy:

An incorrect assumption of life expectancy can have significant consequence. Data shows the life expectancy of Indians is closer towards 70 years and above. Furthermore, it is a fact that women have higher life expectancy than men. So planning for your spouse’s life expectancy is something which is not given adequate thought.

Life expectancy in developed countries are much higher. And as India steadily progresses to that status, it can be reasonably assumed that our life expectancy will only increase.

These are just some items, amongst others, that need to be carefully looked at to ensure you are planning for a good enough retirement corpus and are financially well placed to live your retirement years in peace.

To provide an even deeper understanding, Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors is conducting a seminar on Planning for Retirement on the 7th of July 2018.

For a complimentary invite do write in to us or leave us a comment to this blog.

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Retirement-Coin-Jar-Thumbnail

National Pension Scheme (NPS) which is a defined contributory savings scheme was introduced by the government with an intention to provide retirement solutions for Indian citizens.

Under the NPS there are two types of accounts – Tier I (pension account) and Tier II (investment account).

  • Tier I is the a mandatory account which allows limited withdrawal options until the person reaches the age of 60.
  • Tier II which is a voluntary savings/investment account is more flexible and allows the subscribers to withdraw as and when they wish without any restrictions.

In Jan 2018, the PFRDA (NPS regulator) relaxed the withdrawal norms and allowed the subscribers to withdraw up to 25% of the balance after the completion of 3 years. The purpose of withdrawal included treatment of specified illness of a family member, education of children, wedding expenses of children and purchase or construction of house.

Partial withdrawals – some more options now

The PFRDA has recently added two more events under which partial withdrawal from the NPS can be made before retirement. They are as follows:

  • Partial withdrawal towards meeting the expenses pertaining to employee’s self- development/ skill development/ re- skillingwill be allowed. This includes gaining higher education or professional qualification for which the employee might require in and out of India. However, if such activities on request of the employee are sponsored by the employer then these will not be considered as a class for withdrawal as in such cases the employer bears all the expenses.
  • Partial withdrawal towards meeting the expenses for the establishment of own venture or a start upshall be permitted. However, if an employer-employee relationship exists, then in that case the partial withdrawal will not be applicable.

There are certain limitations to the partial withdrawal clause which remain unchanged:

  • The subscriber should have been a member of NPS for a period of at least 3 years from the date of joining.
  • The subscriber shall be permitted to withdraw accumulations not exceeding 25% of the contributions made by him or her, standing in his/her credit in his or her individual pension account as on the date of application from the withdrawal without considering any returns thereon.

For instance, if you have Rs. 2 lakhs in your account out of which Rs 1 lakh was contributed by you and Rs 1 Lakh was contributed by your employer, then you will be able to withdraw only Rs. 25000 or 25% of your contributions.

  • The frequency of total partial withdrawals shall remain unchanged i.e. the subscriber shall be allowed to withdraw a maximum of 3 times throughout the entire tenure of the subscription of the NPS. For the withdrawal, the subscriber must make a request to the central record keeping agency or the Nodal office.


Adding equities to your retirement corpus

In addition to adding more withdrawal options, there have also been increases in the allowed equity percentage to the retirement corpus. The percentage of equity assets that a subscriber can choose under active choice have been increased. The percentage of equity assets allowed has been increased to 75% from 50% (applicable for non government employees).

All in all the PFRDA is trying to make the NPS more attractive as a retirement solution. Depending on your age, time horizon, risk profile and current retirement corpus investments, the NPS could still prove as one of the avenues that you could consider using for building a retirement corpus.

 

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