If there’s one thing that governments love to do with their annual Budgets, it is to confuse ordinary folk with rule changes that have plenty of the fine print. This time, the change that has set off a confusing debate has been the budget proposal to limit the tax breaks on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the favourite retirement savings vehicle for many salary-earners. So, what changed for EPF subscribers in the 2021 Budget? Has the government now relaxed those provisions in the Finance Bill? What is the government trying to do to the EPF overall and should you be looking at alternatives to it? We answer these questions and many more here.
Perpetual bonds have caused some sleepless nights for fund managers after SEBI’s circular earlier this month. On March 10th, SEBI issued a circular capping the debt scheme exposure to perpetual bonds at 10% and also laying down new rules how these bonds should be valued in debt scheme portfolios. We wrote a short take on it last week suggesting that you wait for clarity. SEBI has now come up with one more circular offering some clarification.
A good way to gauge the state of personal finance books that are India-centric would be to visit the ‘Book’ section of Amazon’s India website.
If you go to the American Amazon.com, you will find the ‘Business and Money’ section, under which you will find ‘Personal Finance’. Boom, done – you have access to a treasure trove on all topics PF.
If you go to the Indian Amazon.in, you will find a ‘Business and Economics’ section, and under that, you will find ‘Analysis and Strategy’, ‘Economics’, and ‘Industries’. If you, by power of logical reasoning and elimination, go into the first category, you will find, along-side books about American personal finance and self-help (Dale Carnegie!), a smattering of books by Indian authors to help Indian investors.
A handful, at best.
No doubt, this is an emerging section, but the current state of limited selection is properly captured by just browsing through these aisles.
Monika Halan’s ‘Let’s talk money’ is, especially in this context, a much-needed publication that addresses a sore need in the Indian market.
Debt funds are back to worrying many of you. Returns are dipping, there’s a lot of talk on yield movements both at home and in the US, there’s the question of where rates will head now. Over the course of the past several weeks, we have fielded several questions from you on what this means and what you should be doing with your debt funds.
We’ve written extensively on the developments in the debt space in different articles. But here’s answering the questions that appear to worry you the most.
Target maturity funds invest with a stated maturity and pay you back when the maturity is reached. You can call them an FMP but one that is open-ended and takes fresh inflows and outflows.
With yields beginning to move up, more funds are now beginning to talk about ‘roll down strategy’ or a strategy where a maturity date is fixed thereby ensuring that the portfolio’s average maturity steadily falls as it nears maturity. For example, a 2027 target date fund will have a 6-year maturity now and a 5-year maturity in 2022 and so on, until the maturity reduces to near zero in 2027.
I like to approach my investing with the same mindset that I approach watching India play cricket abroad. The keyword there is ‘abroad’.
See, when India plays abroad (and I mean the SENA countries – South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia), my expectations are low. When they do better, I am elated, and when they lose, I don’t get too depressed.
I think watching our investment portfolio should be the same. Having realistic expectation means, a boom market (like now) makes us real happy, but a downturn does not faze us much. There is, let’s just say, downside containment of our disappointments 🙂
On the other hand, if we look at our portfolio like watching India play at home (like right now), we expect too much, every defeat is a an unexpected disaster, and a win feels like just ok.
Not good feelings; And makes us act rashly with our portfolio (like ‘resting’ Rohit Sharma :-/ )
How do we form the right expectations, you ask? Glad you did – please read this article from our archives – it’ll set you right!
Small finance banks, with their focus on small ticket loans for urban and semi-urban India, are a play on the underpenetrated market for financial products in India. Yet, after stellar performances soon after their IPOs many of these stocks have seen their valuations levelled. So, when a new candidate – Suryoday Small Finance Bank IPO (Suryoday) comes out in an overcrowded primary market, how should it be judged? Read on.
It’s not easy to impress me.
OK, that’s not true. I am not that hard to impress; so let me rephrase that.
It’s not easy to impress me a lot in a short time.
But that’s what happened today – I did not wake up on a Sunday morning looking to get impressed by the writings of a boomer professor in New York.
First, I watched a clip from Friday’s Bill Maher show (big fan) – one guy that spoke was very animated, and very impressive.
SEBI’s recent circular on restrictions on both valuations and holdings of perpetual bonds by mutual funds has created a storm – not just among the fund manager community but all the way up to the Ministry of Finance.
World over, planning and investing for retirement in a disciplined fashion is not the norm. However, western countries have a healthy social security net that would keep people out of really bad situations, and many such countries would have state-sponsored health coverage that would take care of the inevitable big bills in old age.
India has neither, at least not in a manner that will cater to a middle-class life-style and care aspirations here. Hence, planning, saving, and investing for retirement becomes a must-do activity during the earning years of an individual in India.
P V Subramanyam’s book – “Retire Rich – Invest Rs 40 a day” was the first book on this topic. The original version was published in 2011 and sold more than 150,000 copies, and is now available in a new edition (since 2019).
A cocktail of factors – from the rollout of the Covid vaccine across the world, to optimism about economic recovery to a spiking of US bond yields – has had a dampening effect on gold, pushing it into an official bear market. (A bear market is roughly defined by a 20% decline in any asset from its peak).