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uncertain inflowsI have uncertain inflows – how should I invest?

Money may not be the end in itself, but for most, it is a means to achieve many necessities as well as aspirations. Therefore it becomes important how an individual plans to use his/her hard earned money. More so when the inflows are not necessarily streamlined and consistent like that of an employee. When your personal income is linked to the performance of your firm, a well thought out plan could be all the difference between financial stability or having to make huge compromises.

Being a HR firm owner can have its ups and downs. By following certain simple financial planning steps, you can have some peace of mind with regards to your personal financial situation even though you may not have a steady income:

  1. Contingency Fund: This is a basic yet most critical part of any financial planning for a self employed individual. You never know when your next pay check may come. So it pays to prepare for the worst. Thumb rule has always been 3-6 months worth of household expenses to be kept aside in highly liquid assets as an Emergency Fund. Yet we feel that when it comes to a owner/manager, it should be at least 6-9 months worth of basic expenses!  A handy tip, do not forget to count any committed payments such as EMIs and any insurance premiums when calculating the corpus. 
  1. Risk Planning: or in lay man terms, Insurance Planning. This could be a considered an extension of contingency planning, but for very specific events. Following are the types of insurance policies one must always have at all times: 
  • Term Life Insurance Plan: The plain vanilla term plan is exactly the only kind of life insurance anyone should purchase. Handy tip, to know the amount of cover you might need, start with at least 15 times your annual revenue/income. Don’t forget, insurance should never be mistaken for an investment!
  • Individual Health Insurance: If nothing else, an individual health cover to at least cover your own standard hospitalization expenses is a must. Financial independence means you should be able to fend for yourself at the very least, even if it paying for your own recovery. 
  • Critical Illness Policy: Contracting a serious illness or undergoing a major surgery would mean a drag on your finances as well as a dent on income. Such financial risks can be mitigated by procuring a critical illness policy. Such policies usually provide for a lump sum payment to tide over the finances needed, in case of being diagnosed with a critical illness.
  • Personal Accident Policy: Another source of financial risk associated with most professionals is loss of income/job due to an accident. Similar to a Critical Illness Policy, this policy provides a supplement alternative income for certain weeks of disability depending on the terms of the policy. This can be used to either pay off medical expenses or help in taking care of household expenses during the recovery period.

While more types of insurances are available, it is essential that this set is acquired first. Having your Contingency funds and Risk Planning in place makes a strong base for you to venture into the world of investments.

  1. Planning for Retirement: Retirement, or as financial advisors put it, Financial Freedom, is something we all aspire for. The dream of not working for the sake of survival is a goal we all work towards. Yet having an uncertain income can make such a dream feel a little distant more often than not. And while retirement always seem likes a far off goal in comparison to what seem like more pressing concerns, it should ALWAYS be top priority! Underestimating your retirement financial needs can be the one of the biggest mistakes you could make and more often than not, people realize it far too late to make any significant course corrections. Even if you have to start with small amounts, it is the consistency and discipline that will ultimately help you reach your goal.
  1. Financial Goal Planning: Only after the first three steps are in place, is when you should really consider planning for the rest of the commitments/aspirations that you might have. As with any goal planning, the two critical aspects to consider are time horizon and future value of the goal, not current value. If you get these two right, the rest becomes clear.

For any individual with uncertain income flows, planning can become easier if you can channelize your savings, prioritizing in the above order! It is essentially in this area where the difference between financial planning for an owner of a firm/business versus that for an employed individual lies.

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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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The RBI has not changed the repo rates, maintained at 6.25% but has cut SLR rate by 50 bps.  RBI has indicated that it wait for more clarity on data on inflation going forward before taking any decision on monetary policy action. However with inflation in terms of CPI continuing to remain low, any rate hike action which the markets were fearing over the last few weeks seems less likely. Thus a rate cut which seemed off the table till a few weeks ago continues to be an alternative going forward, depending on multiple data points. GST rollout so far has been assumed to not affect inflation meaningfully, though it will need to be watched carefully.

Investments:

Investors having investments in dynamic or duration funds can benefit from falling interest rates if inflation continues to be low. Investors having long term goal durations of 5 plus years for their fixed income portfolio can continue to invest in the duration and dynamic funds, along with tax free bonds. For investments with 3 to 5 year horizons investors can consider investing in a mix of short term and duration funds. Investor having an investment horizon of 1 to 3 years could invest into ultra-short term and short term funds to avoid volatility in interest rates.

Loans:

As there is SLR rate cut by 50bps banks will have more liquidity for lending and to pursue credit growth opportunities. The bank lending rate may go down due to excess liquidity in the banks and to increase consumption. People having loans can look for refinancing opportunities as rates could continue to remain low going forward.

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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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Issue Detail:
Issue Open: Mar 8, 2017 – Mar 10, 2017
Issue Type: Book Built Issue IPO
Issue Size: 62,393,631 Equity Shares of Rs 10 aggregating up to Rs 1,865.57 Cr
Face Value: Rs 10 Per Equity Share
Issue Price: Rs. 295 – Rs. 299 Per Equity Share
Market Lot: 50 Shares
Minimum Order Quantity: 50 Shares
Listing At: BSE, NSE

D’mart (Avenues Supermarket), which is in the retail business with 118 stores, selling products such as food and groceries (55 per cent of revenues), home and personal care products (20 per cent of revenues) and general merchandise, such as crockery, furniture, garments, footwear, and home appliances (25 per cent of revenues), has clearly come at a time where the global view on equities has turned positive, and volatility in equities is at record lows. IPOs like Snapchat in the US have created significant short term gains for investors, and Indian investors are seeking a repeat.  The fact that D’mart is associated with Radhakrishan Damani, believed to be one of the sharpest long term investors in India, has only added to the frenzy. The penetration and development of retail businesses in India have been a much discussed opportunity over the last decade, and the shift from unorganised to organised, and from offline to online, continue to be much talked about.

Whilst there is no doubt that this shift has begun and is only likely to increase significantly going forward,  as individuals and families gain more and more comfort with these formats and decide which one works best for themselves, one needs to keep in mind that margins in most retail businesses tend to be very slim, and thus investors will need to be very patient with these businesses, as they scale and maintain/try to grow margins simultaneously, in spite of significant competition. Customer loyalty across these formats will also be tested , as consumers do tend to be very price sensitive in most retail segments.

Whilst revenue and earnings growth for the business have been very decent at 35 – 40% CAGR  over the last few years, and the profit margins and other numbers are better than competition, with further scope to possibly expand through the use of private labels, one will need to remember that businesses of this type will create wealth for investors if they are truly thinking very long term. At a P/E of 36 times, even though cheaper than other players in the retail space, and with a model that is very efficient with use of capital, real estate and its supply chain, this IPO is  not cheap.

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With expectations of significant listing gains pushing investors to try to get a share of the pie, and the issue size being only about Rs 1870 crores, most investors in the retail segment are not likely to get any shares at all, or even if they do, the net impact on their portfolio is likely to be minimal due to the small holding that they will get. For high net worth investors taking leveraged positions, a very high over subscription rate could essentially mean that their interest costs are also likely to be very significant.

With an uncertain global environment on the back of a possible US rate hike coming up, this issue is appropriate only for investors with a high risk appetite, or investors taking a very long term view of their portfolio in our view.

Just like Retail is all about detail, stock investing is all about earnings so keep your eyes focussed there and see how retail businesses continue to grow their earnings going forward, and deal with significant competition pressures.

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Plan Ahead has won the Outlook Money Best Investment Advisor of the year 2016

 

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Plan Ahead would like to express our heart felt gratitude to our clients for the unstinting support, basis which we continue to strive to be the best advisor in the country. 

Thank you and we look forward to your continued support and encouragement.

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