pump and dump scam stock market

Pump and Dump- The Infamous and Endless Stock Market Scam!

Understand Pump and Dump scam in Share market: Starting from the Nigerian Prince in exile asking for money, us winning lotteries we never took part in, and a distant relative we never heard of trying to send us his inheritance, has bought us to a stage where we are waiting to find out how much more ridiculous these scams can get. Similarly, the stock market world with all its rules, regulations, and watchdogs is not free from scams. Today we have a look at one such method used to scam naive investors of their money called the Pump and Dump.

What’s the Pump and Dump?

pump and dump scamIn the Pump and Dump scheme, the promoter or large investors mislead the market into believing that a particular stock is valuable. They release false information which in turn gives rise to the first portion of the scheme known as ‘A Pump’. The con investors at this stage buy large portions of the valuable at cheap prices. Here due to the credibility held by the promoter or the large investor the market too begins investing in the stock.

This leads to a rise in the demand which causes the stock to be inflated with increased prices. Once the price increases the promoters begin the second phase ‘ The Dump’. Here the promoters and investors sell their stake at the higher prices making a profit. This causes a market reaction where the price falls and the naive investors who believed then news are left suffering the losses.

Furthermore, after the dump stage, the naive retail investors hold on to the stock thinking that the fall in prices is a small market corrected and still anticipate the prices to rebound. But to their misery, the stock prices keep falling to their original value making it too late for the naive retail investor to exit without losses.  

At times brokerage firms and other organizations also make use of the pump and dump. Here they are either hired by the promoters or they themselves purchase a stake in the company they wish to use in their scam. Once the shares are acquired the brokerage firms then begin spreading misleading statements that attract investment in the company which leads to increased prices. At this point, they dump the stock.

— Stocks used in Pump and Dump Scams

Generally, large investors or brokerage firms target penny stocks. This is because they have low values and are easy to inflate. Large-cap stock too are at times prey to this, but even a large investor with the ability to influence a Large-cap is rare. Pump and Dump also make use of the psychological Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Everyone regrets not being able to invest in big multi-bagger stocks like Apple, Google and Facebook etc during their initial stages. Hence, the search for similar stocks leads retail investors to fall victim to such Pump and Dump schemes.

— Channels/Mediums used in these schemes

Pumping and dumping were traditionally done through cold calling. Here the brokers would cold call innocent investors and pressurize them into buying these stocks. They would also use strategies where they would leave a message on the answering machine with misleading information regarding the stock. This made it look like it was missed call with the information not intended for the receiver. This scheme then moved onto emails and currently even makes use of social media.

Infamous Pumpers and Dumpers

Infamous Pumpers and Dumpers in stock market(From Left to Right: Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, Jonathan Lebed, and Jordan Belfort) 

1. Harshad Mehta Scam

The pumping followed by Harshad Mehta in the 1990s caused the great bull run. This earned him the nickname the Big Bull. Harshad Mehta also had tricked banks to fund the bull run. He caused the stocks of ACC by 45 times. The markets crashed the day he sold. Harshad Mehta was arrested over numerous charges ( 70 Criminal Cases and 600 Civil Action Suits).

Read more: Harshad Mehta Scam- How one man deceived entire Dalal Street?

2. Ketan Parekh Scam

Ketan Parekh a Chartered Accountant earlier worked with Harshad Mehta. Parekh made use of circular trading to pump and dump. He would have one of his companies buy a  stock and have it sold to another company that he owned. He would do this involving many of his companies. This increased the trading volume of the stock which in turn attracted investors. This caused an increase in the prices and at this stage, Ketan Parekh would dump. Ketan Parekh was arrested in 2001.

3. Jonathan Lebed Scam

In 2000, Jonathan Lebed was only 15 years old when he successfully Pumped and Dumped. He would purchase penny stocks and then promote them at the message board. Once the prices increased he would sell them at a profit. He was caught by the SEC and a civil suit for security manipulation was charged against him. Lebed made $272,826 in profits. He settled his charges through these earnings.

4. Straton Oaks Scam

This may be perhaps one of the most famous pumps and dumps among millennials thanks to the movie Wolf of Wall Street. The movie is adapted from the memoir of Jordan Belfort. His brokerage firm Straton Oaks would inflate the prices of the stocks he owned through misleading statements and later sell them at profit.

Stocks that were Pumped and Dumped in Past

1. Surana Solar Ltd

Surana Solar Ltd pump and dumpIn the case of Surana Solar Ltd, the shares rallied over 725% after new broke into the market that India’s most successful investor Rakesh Jhunhunwala had purchased a stake in the company. Everyone wanted a piece in the company that Jhunjhunwala believed in. It was later clarified that another investor had used conned the market by investing in the company using the ‘Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’ name. Once this news broke out the shares fell causing huge losses to naive retail investors.

2. Sawaca Business

Sawaca Business pump and dumpThe case of Sawaca Business Machines Ltd is special because the pump and dump scheme here was not used once but twice. In the price graph movement above we can see a rally from 2011-13 and again from 2014-15. The shares rallied over 2500% reaching heights of Rs 225.50 per share from 2011-13 and then fell again to their original figures. After the fall the shares rallied again from 2013-15 touching prices od Rs 204 and giving gains of over 1000%. As of 10th June 2020, the shares are valued at Rs 0.53 per share. A con investor who would have even invested Rs 10000 would see his wealth scale over 25 lakhs if pumped and dumped at the right time during the two periods. However, the loss to retail investors has been incomputable.

How to protect yourself from Pump and Dump?

1. Tenurity of stock being traded on the exchange

Generally, stocks that are used by scamsters for pumping and dumping will have been made available for less than a year. These stocks are generally penny stocks. Companies that are considered small-cap do not have considerable information made available to the investors to make informed decisions. Investors fall victim to their emotions and the pressure selling by brokers in these cases.

2. Look at the long term Stock Patterns

Generally in cases of Pump and Dump it is possible for investors to notice similar patterns during the pumping stage. After the stocks are influenced and are in the pumping stage an investor will be able to notice a steady increase every day in the penny stock. This sudden increase in price would be bizarre when coupled with the previous low trading volumes.

3. Shade of Influence

If a broker pressurizes you to purchase a penny stock there is a good possibility that it is a scam. Great stocks sell themselves and do not rely on large investors or broker pressure. Irrespective of the medium, be it emails/social media/brokers, such schemes generally violate the basic rule of high return high risk. The proposal generally promises high returns with no or low risk. There may also be claims of insider information available to influence the proposal to buy the stock. Investors must be aware of such red flags.

 

Conclusion

Scammers have adapted to the changing times but for an honest investor, the requirement to remain safe remains the same. If an investor does his own research and homework as long as he stays away from so-called tips and recommendations the possibility of him being fooled remains non-existent.

pump and dump quote benjamin franklinThat’s all for this post on Pump and dump scam in stock market. I hope you have found this post useful and will try to stay away from these cheap scams in stock market. Take care and happy investing!

Trading Psychology - Tensions and Emotions in trading cover

Trading Psychology: Tensions and Emotions While Trading

An overview of Trading Psychology to understand what goes inside the mind of a trader: Trading psychology is the most important aspect of trading even more important than the technical and fundamental aspects of making trades. To be able to control one’s emotion, to be able to think fast on one’s feet and being disciplined, are some of the very key features of this trading psychology that every trader needs to learn eventually.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” ― Oscar Wilde

Taking quick decisions, avoiding panicking, and sticking to one’s informed resolution in times of crisis is what sets a good trader apart from an average one or should I say, the winning one from the losing ones.

Biggest Psychological Tension While Trading

Not maximizing and holding on to a trade for too long, are two sides of the same coin. When I am saying, not maximizing, all I am saying is that when a trade goes in favor, we tend to book our profits too quickly and not maximize the potential. And this is critical because, with the technical and fundamental view remaining the same, there is no reason to book just because something is making money. We should try and squeeze the maximum possible juice out of fruit i.e., the trade.

Similarly holding on too long on to a position and not booking substantial margins even though the market is showing a change in momentum, is another psychological issue with trading. We are always of the viewpoint, what if I book too early. But one should understand that “Profit in hand, is better than profit in books”.

Staying flexible and being open to opportunities around to better the trade price or hedging is an important psychological aspect of trading. As the saying goes in the market, “Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered.

the cycle of market emotions graph

Trading Psychology – Few Important Points to Know

— Avoid Over-Analysis Paralysis

This is the most common psychological trait associated with trading. We tend to over-analyze and over research the trades, before executing them. And which sometimes leads to trade been missed or we don’t take that trade, because some of our technical or fundamental parameters didn’t signal the trade. Too much information sometimes overcomplicates trading.

— The Randomness of Market

We have to accept the fact that markets are random to a large extent. This statement might come as a surprise to many. But we have to understand that our technical and fundamental analysis only works to an extent in the market. And if markets were not random, the technical and fundamental parameters working so far should always be able to predict the market future.

But, that’s never the case. So as long as we are in sync, with the randomness in the market, we should maximize the possibility. Because sooner or later, the randomness will take over and we have to change the parameters.

— Knowing When to Exit

what is factor investing meaning concept more

This skill is as important, as the art of knowing when to enter. Having a firm plan of when to exit is an important ability that every trader should develop. Having the mastery of this skill goes a long way in making the most of the profitable trades and exiting the wrong trades with minimum damage.

The best way to go about this strategy is to exit a part of your position when it makes to a decent profit. Doing this, locks in some profit and it also gives an opportunity to enter again if the markets correct again. And most importantly it gives confidence about one’s trading skills.

— Accepting when you are wrong

To accept when one is wrong is the most difficult art in humans. Similarly, in trading too, if we are able to accept that we have gone wrong in taking a trade, it goes a long way in prolonging one’s trading career. Its a proven fact, accepting a wrong trade, avoids the chain of wrong trades and which goes a long way in preserving one’s trading account.

Also read: 5 Common Behavioral Biases That Every Investor Should Know

— No more FREE internet tips

There are many fraudsters in the market who simply circulate a message (via SMS/email/any other social medium) spreading positive/negative rumors depending on whether they want to sell or buy. One should completely avoid falling for this honey trap, as people might lose a large chunk of their capital by trading this penny or rumor based tips. Traders should always use their informed judgment before entering any potions in the market.

— Have a Winning Attitude

Futures vs Options Trading What is More Profitable

This is an acquired trait over time. The winning attitude develops over time. What we need to understand here is that no trader has a 100% success rate with their trades. It’s our attitude, to do our background research (could be technical or fundamental) on each and every position/trade we take, makes a difference. Lack of discipline while trading, leads to disaster. The positivity with which we enter a trade makes a world of difference in the outcome of the trade.

— No Revenge against the Universe

The Universe here is the universe of trading. An individual trader is like grain of sand on a beach. He/she is simply not big enough to take revenge from the market. Therefore, we should never get into the mentality of taking revenge against the market. One always needs to remember, we are a part of the market and we cannot trade without the market. Moreover, it would not make any difference to the market, if a small trader like you or me is not there in it.

Closing Thoughts

“Every trader has strengths and weakness. Some are good holders of winners, but may hold their losers a little too long. Others may cut their winners a little short, but are quick to take their losses. As long as you stick to your own style, you get the good and bad in your own approach.” – Michael Marcus

Trading psychology is the most important aspect of trading that every trader needs to learn. In conclusion, we can say that the whole psychological warfare of trading, is the sole pillar on which the world of trading runs. Mastery of one emotional quotient goes a long way in having a long and rewarding trading career.

What are Corporate Spin-Offs meaning

What are Corporate Spin-Offs? Meaning, Pros & Cons!

Understanding corporate Spin-Offs and how they work: There are many corporate actions that act as a catalyst in the market and results in the prices of a share changing drastically within a short frame of time. A few common examples of such catalysts are mergers, acquisitions, bonus shares, buybacks, etc. The announcement of all these events results in rapidly increasing (and sometimes decreasing) of share prices in a short period. Therefore, share market investors and participants need to know what exactly these catalysts mean.  One other typical example of such events are corporate spin-offs. 

In this post, we are going to understand what are corporate spin-offs, how they work, their advantages, disadvantages and why does a company opt for spin-off. Let’s get started.

What are Corporate Spin-Offs?

A corporate spinoff is an operational strategy where an existing division of the parent company is dissolved and a new company is created in place of the division which is now independent of the parent company. Ownership in the newly formed independent company is given to the shareholders of the parent company on pro-rata based on the holdings in the parent company.

The new company resulting from this corporate action is known as the company spun-off. The company spun-off acquires its assets, employees, and other resources from the parent company.

corporate spin off

A spin-off is a mandatory corporate action. In a mandatory corporate action, the board takes the decision and the shareholders are not permitted to vote.

To make the topic more comprehensible we shall be referring to the division of the company that is spun off and becomes independent as  ‘Spinoff Ltd’. The portion of the company that remains with the existing company earlier will be referred to as ‘Parent Ltd’. The shares of the newly created Spinoff Ltd are distributed to the existing shareholders of Parent Ltd in the form of a stock dividend.

Why does a company opt for Spin-off?

There are a number of reasons why a company may opt for a spin-off. Here are the top grounds why a company may go for a spin-off:

1. Benefits of Focus

Companies that go for a spinoff generally have divisions that are least synergetic and have distinct core competencies from that of the Parent Ltd They find turning these divisions into independent companies i.e. into Spinoff Ltd would be most appropriate.

A spin-off would enable both the Parent Ltd and the Spinoff Ltd to sharpen focus on its resources and manage themselves better off independently. 

Spinoff Ltd benefits from the spin-off the most because they get a new management that is focussed only on the goals of Spinoff Ltd. The newly assigned leaders present here would be experts in the field with focus only on the goals of the Spinoff Ltd. This would also help Spinoff Ltd override corporate bureaucracy that was impeding its growth in Parent Ltd.  

2. Due to Failure to sell a division

At times Parent Ltd might have decided to sell off one of its divisions but does so unsuccessfully. In such cases, the company uses spin-off as a last resort to separate itself from the division.

3. Reduced agency costs 

At times the parent company may enter sectors that are soo diverse from its core competencies that its investors may show no interest in the new division or may even oppose the new division. In these cases, the company incurs agency costs while resolving disagreements between the management and the shareholders.

If the new division is the cause of disagreement a spin-off will prove beneficial to Parent Ltd.

This will also result in satisfied shareholders.

4. Risk, Profitability, and Debt

If a division of a company increases its overall risk due to the sector it operates in the board may take a decision to spin-off that division. 

A division may also have all the characteristics of growth in the future but its current performance or losses may be affecting the parent company. In such a situation the division may be spun off.

 When a Spinoff Ltd is created it may take on the debt of the Parent Ltd. Or at times Parent Ltd. may give Spinoff Ltd a fresh start by not transferring any debt. This will depend on the strategic perspective of the board.

5. Reduced Overheads 

Parent Ltd will benefit from the reduced overheads that pertain to the division which now becomes Spinoff Ltd. On the other hand, Spinoff Ltd will enjoy the freedom of taking care of its own overheads as required without any interference.

parent company and spinoff company

Although there are a number of reasons why a company may opt for a spin-off it is basically due to the fact that it feels that by doing so it would turn out to be beneficial to both Parent Ltd and Spinoff Ltd if they operated independently.

What is the Spin-off Process?

A spin-off may take anywhere from half a year up to over 2 years or even more to be executed. Once the board takes the decision there are multiple steps that follow. They include identifying well-suited leaders for Spinoff Ltd. Creating an operating model and financial plans to suit the business of Spinoff Ltd.

This is because the parent company is still responsible for its division. Proper communication about the terms of the spin-off to the shareholders is also necessary. This is followed by completing the legal requirements. The parent company also focuses and helps Spinoff Ltd to create a new distinct identity before the spin-off.

Types of Corporate Spin-offs

Here we classify spinoff on the basis of the ownership retained by the parent company.

– No ownership retained

In what is called a pure spin-off the parent company does not retain any ownership in Spinoff Ltd. 100% of the ownership in Spinoff Ltd is distributed among the existing shareholders of the company. Here Spinoff Ltd gets greater autonomy in its operations once the spin-off is complete.

– Minority Ownership Retained

Parent Ltd is also allowed to hold up to 20% of Spinoff Ltd. In such a case say if 20% is retained by Parent Ltd, the remaining 80% is distributed among the shareholders on a pro-rata basis. Here the parent company enjoys a greater focus on is operations and still retains some influence and decision making ability in the company spun-off. 

There is also a possibility of a partial spin-off where the company may only spin-off a part of its division and retain minority or not retain ownership accordingly.

Effects of spin-off on price of securities of the company involved

Once a spin-off takes place the share prices of Parent Ltd will fall. This is because a spin-off involves the transfer of assets from Parent Ltd to Spinoff Ltd. This will result in reduced book value of Parent Ltd and hence its reduced price. However, the reduction in price is set-off by the share price of Spinoff Ltd. This is because Spinoff Ltd will receive the same assets transferred from Parent Ltd. Hence the investor will not face any immediate loss of value.

For eg. say the market cap of the company before the spin-off stands at Rs.10 crores and its current share price is Rs.100. Say the assets that will be transferred to Spinoff Ltd are worth Rs.2 crores. After the spin-off, the market cap of Parent Ltd will be worth 8 crores resulting in a post spinoff share price of Rs.80. The share price of Spinoff Ltd would be Rs.20 with a current market cap of Rs.2 crores.

Reduced demand from Funds

These prices will remain temporarily as the shares will be subject to market volatility. Spin-offs are said to cause sell-offs, particularly in the index-based funds. This is because an index shows the topmost companies in a market based on their market cap. The companies undergoing spin-off may no longer suit the requirements of the market index.

Parent Ltd too may lose its position among the top stocks due to the reduced market cap after the spin-off. This will cause funds that follow the indexes to sell the shares of Parent Ltd as well. Other funds may too sell the shares of Spinoff Ltd. This is because Spinoff Ltd may not suit their capital requirements, dividend requirements, etc. This will result in a reduced demand and fall in the price.

Also read: 11 Must-Know Catalysts That Can Move The Share Price

Disadvantages of Corporate Spin-Offs

1. Increased cost

The cost of the spin-off will have to be borne by Parent Ltd. They will include legal duties and other costs of set-up.

2. Employee’s Discomfort

The employees in the division being spun may have joined the Parent Ltd owing to its reputation. They may be put in a situation where they will lose that identity and at the same time be confronted by the uncertainty of Spinoff Ltd.

Spin-offs as part of an Investing Strategy

The share price of Parent Ltd gets reduced after the spin-off. But this is made up for by the shares of Spinoff Ltd that the existing shareholders receive as a stock dividend. As discussed earlier due to market reactions the price may further fall.

After a spin-off takes place investors have the option to either hold onto both the shares of Parent Ltd and the shares of Spinoff Ltd. Or they have the option to sell both or either one. But before deciding which is better let us have a look at what historical studies have shown us about a spin-off.

Spin-offs as part of an Investing Strategy

— Parent company shares   

According to a study by Patrick Cusatis, James Miles, and J. Randall Woolridge published in 1993 issue of The Journal of Financial Economics, it was observed that the parent companies beat the S&P 500 Index by 18% during the first 3 years. A study by JPMorgan showed the parent companies beating the market returns by 5% during the first 18 months.

A more recent study by the Lehman Brothers investigated by Chip Dickson between 2000 and 2005 showed that parent companies beat the market average by 40% during the first two years. Due to their strong market cap, holding onto shares of Parent Ltd will be well suited for those investors that look for stable and low-risk returns. This is because as we will observe ahead, the returns from Spinoff Ltd are higher in comparison. But the shares of Parent Ltd are observed to perform even in times of market downturn.

— Shares of the company spun off

According to the same study published in the 1993 issue of The Journal of Financial Economics, it was observed that the companies spun-off beat the S&P 500 Index by 30% during the first 3 years. The study by JPMorgan showed the companies spun-off beating the market returns by 20% during the first 18 months. The study by Lehman Brothers, investigated by Chip Dickson between 2000 and 2005 showed that parent companies beat the market average by 45% during the first two years. 

All the studies show that the shares of Spinoff Ltd would not only beat the market but also would perform better than the shares of the Parent Ltd. It, however, should be noted that the share price of the spun-off companies is highly subjective to market volatility. They outperform in strong markets and underperform in weak markets. Hence they are much more suited for individuals with risk appetite.

Investors should also note that it is not the case that all spin-offs are successful. There have been situations where spinoffs have performed negatively. The best way to assess future performance is for the investor to find out why the company is attempting to have the division undergo spin-off. This is to assess if the company is using the corporate action to simply get rid of its debt or if the company is getting rid of a division in which they do not see much future prospect. In such situations, a study of debts and losses pertaining to the division in the companies books will help.

Coffee Can Investing - Does This Approach Works Anymore?

Coffee Can Investing: Does This Approach Work?

An overview of Coffee Can Investing Approach: A middle class Indian would spend most of his youth being forced into education, his early adulthood building a career, and taking care of his parents. He would be hit by a midlife crisis before 50. His late adulthood would be spent preparing for retirement i.e. if he hasn’t started already and ultimately banks on his kids to take care of him. As young adults, the kids now take up the responsibility with pride as is demanded by the Indian tradition and culture.

A squirrel life, on the other hand, lives chiefly on trees as they forage for food and escape predators. One thing that is interesting about squirrels is that they too try and stock up on nuts for the future. Unfortunately for the squirrels and fortunately for us, millions of trees are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts and then forget where they hid them. Because of a squirrels life spanning only 11-12 months, they do not generally get to reap the benefits of an oak they planted, as oaks take up to 30 years to grow. But they still live in forests that may well have been accidentally planted by squirrel fathers decades ago.

sqrriel coffee can investing

What does it take to retire?

Humans, unlike the squirrel, have an average lifespan of 79 years. Yet we see the middle-class Indian category struggling and not reaping any benefits. According to Saurabh Mukerjea, for a couple to retire and survive for another 25 years with a reasonably good lifestyle post-retirement, they’ll need a crore a year pre-tax which is 60-70 lakhs post-tax.

This does sound reasonable considering the expenses of their adolescent children, the fragility of their health, and most importantly inflation a few years hence. This will mean that for a family to retire in a good shape they’ll need to have financial assets of at least 15 crores. Need a minute? Today we discuss an investment strategy called Coffee Can Investing that shines some light on what seeds to plant for our 15 crore oaks in the long term.

What is coffee can investing?

Coffee Can Investing was first coined by Robert G. Kirby in a paper written by him in 1984. The strategy gets its name because in the old west people who invest in the stock market would receive physical certificates of proof which they would put away in coffee cans. They would hide these cans in their mattresses later forgetting about them.

These stocks would eventually grow enormously making its holder rich when he found it again. The success of Coffee Can Investing depends entirely on the wisdom and foresight used to select stocks in the portfolio.

The Story behind Coffee Can Investing

Robert Kirby first observed the pattern dramatically in the 1950s when working in a large investment counsel organization. One of their woman clients who had just been widowed approached him. She wanted the securities inherited from her husband to be added to her portfolio under the organization. Her husband, who was a lawyer, would look after her financials.

Robert Kirby noticed that the husband had been piggybacking on the advice she would get from the advisors within the company. He would apply the advice as directed by the advisors to his wife’s portfolio. But when it came to his portfolio he would only follow those that were related to buying shares. He paid no attention whatsoever to the sell recommendations. He would simply put $5,000 in all purchases.

When Robert Kirby reviewed the portfolio created, the husband had many stocks that were worth only $1000. However, there were quite a few considerable investments that were now worth $100,000. One jumbo holding worth $800,000 exceeded his wife’s whole portfolio. These were shares of a company called Haloid. This investment later turned out to be a zillion shares of Xerox. 

This surprised Kirby as the wifes’ portfolio was no match to that of her deceased husband. This happened despite the wifes’ portfolio being managed by an Investment organization. And all he did was buy the shares as suggested by the investment counsel organization but ignore the sell orders even if the stocks were moving negatively. 

Coffee Can Investing and Index Funds

When Kirby first wrote the paper in 1984, he noticed that there was an increase in the index funds following. This has continued to this day. An Index in a market creates a portfolio of the top securities held in that market. The Index, however, does not hold the securities. The US has the S&P 500 Index. What Index Funds do is create an actual portfolio by investing in the securities.

In the paper, Kirby criticizes these funds as they are required to trade securities on a regular basis to keep up with the portfolio the index would have. Kirby also explains how the S&P 500 Index made several hundred stock additions and eliminations. An Index fund would actively be required to trade on these stocks. The transaction costs on these alone would have a huge impact on the portfolio and the index funds growth. Hence Kirby introduced Coffee Can Investing. He identified that leaving the stocks alone was one of the reasons why the widows’ husband had grown his portfolio enormously in the 1950s. And he also considered transaction costs from trading as the greatest detriment to superior investment returns.

What is required for a Coffee Can Strategy?

To tap into these superior investment returns of Coffee Can Investing one would have to 

  1. Carefully assess and select stocks based on the company’s performance.
  2. Invest and forget about them for a long period of time. In Coffee Can Investing to reap the maximum benefits, one would have to let the investments be for at least a period of 10 years.

coffee can investing quote

How to pick stocks for this approach?

In their book, ‘Coffee Can Investing: The low-risk road to stupendous wealth’ Saurabh Mukherjea, Rakshit Ranjan, and Pranab Uniyal discuss how to pick stocks to create a Coffee Can portfolio. According to them, the stocks considered must be filtered in the following manner.

1. The company selected must have a market cap of at least 500 crores.

This is because we will need a company that has established itself. Also because we will need the past records of the company for at least 10 years. 

2. Revenue growth of the company must be at least 10% each year for the last 10 years.

3. The ROCE of the companies must be more than 15%

The ROCE will show if the management is capable of allocating that the money put by you into the company correctly. ( ROCE = Net Income/ Shareholders Equity)

The stocks selected in the portfolio still have to be diversified. The investment must be done across industries and also across different capital classes. This would, however, depend on the investor and vary accordingly. The investor would have to keep in mind that the scope for growth is limited when the companies are too big. The potential for smaller companies to grow is much higher. This, however, does not stand true for longer periods. In long term say 20 years this benefit no longer would exist with the companies in the small-cap in comparison to large-caps.

Results of Coffee Can Investing Approach

After studying trends and putting together a portfolio, The book ‘Coffee Can Investing: The low-risk road to stupendous wealth’ brings forward the concept of Patience Premium. As per Patience Premium, a period greater than one year would give you a higher probability of higher returns. Investors are not really rewarded much for periods like 1 year or even up to 7 years. The chances of returns as per the book even reduce during the 3 to 5 year period. After the 7-year and 10-year mark, the patience premium is much higher.

The best-case scenario occurs when patience premium combines with quality premium. Quality premium is the premium associated with the quality companies selected in the portfolio. A dream mix would be of good quality companies selected as per the Coffee Can portfolio filter and an investor letting the investment be for a long period. With both the premiums combined the probability of losing money is -3% yearly. After a period of 10 years, the returns would stand at 20%. They would, however, remain stagnated after this period. Hence 10 years onward the returns expected will be more or less 20%.

Why do the returns stagnate after 10 years? 

Pranab Uniyal explains this citing reference to the book ‘Mathematics of everyday life’. According to the book, large numbers behave differently from small numbers. They use a dice analogy to explain this. Say 3 people were each to roll a dice 5 times. The average obtained from rolling the dice 5 times will vary or have an extremely high probability to vary from each other. On the other hand, if all of them roll the dice say 1000 times, the average will cumulate to 3.5 for all of them.

Similarly in investing. Short periods will subject us to market volatility, which would be the easiest way to lose our investment and the results would vary too much to different investors. However, when we look at longer periods say 10 years if different investors create a Coffee Can portfolio the returns would converge at 20% yearly.

Greater the Risk, Greater the reward?

The book also challenges the quote on every investor’s tongue which says more the risk, higher the reward. Coffee Can Investing provides a way for investors to earn huge returns on their investments instead of gambling in the short term. These returns can only be achieved however only if the portfolio is held for a long period of time. One of the major reasons the investor earns here is by saving up on all the transaction costs.

Why not select assets outside the stock market? 

warren buffett quote on gold

Only 2% of the Indian population indulges in the Indian stock markets. Over 95% prefer to invest their savings in Land and Gold. This could be because we as people tend to put our trust in assets that we can see and touch. Also, a great deal of cultural influence is at play when it comes to gold.

The land came to be considered as one of the best investments due to the boom in the period between 2003 to 2013. Due to this India has currently become one of the priciest markets in the world. But the prices are not followed by an apt demand. This has left a lot of unsold properties in the market. This has made land and gold one of the worst investments in recent times especially if one wants to stay ahead of inflation. And an even worse investment if they want to compete with the stock market. 

warren buffett quote investing

Benefits of Coffee Can Investing

1. Minimum Expenses

Coffee Can Investing can be said to have been built on this factor. Apart from the cost that occurs during the one-time investment, there will be no more transaction cost for the remaining 10 year period. Tracking an index involves multiple additions and eliminations to a fund portfolio. Due to this, the investments are affected regularly from brokerage and other expenses transaction costs.

coffee can investing quote

In addition to this investment management firms have their own set of charges charged to the investors. Expenses to the investment manager are spread to all the funds and not just Index funds. Also, the quest for alpha in the market has investment managers charging investors for their apparent skills. However, for the period the investors remain the market we rarely see them beat the markets.

A Coffee Can Portfolio created by the individual would not have an Expense Ratio. Also, investors rarely consider how taxes affect their investments. Regular purchases and sales would result in added taxes on any profit earned. 

2. No need for tracking the portfolio.

This is also one of the necessities of Coffee Can Investing. Once we have filtered and achieved a portfolio of quality stock the only thing that is required is for them to be put aside and left alone for a decade.

When we invest we unfortunately always try and keep track of what is going on with the company. CEO changes, political and other economic changes would all stimulate us to act on our holdings. In fact, a Coffee Can Portfolio would even require us to not even look at our stocks during the pandemic.

3. Not Affected by volatility

The filters to create a suitable coffee can portfolio ensures that only the best stocks as per the present scenario make it to your portfolio. However, in the short term, these stocks will face very high volatility in reaction to the market, political, and other changes. In the long term, the stocks will only be judged by their intrinsic quality. However, even if a few stocks turn out to be bad investments it is best to cite what Kirby saw in the deceased husbands’ portfolio. There were stocks that did not perform as well as the others but they were more than made up for by the stocks that performed better. In the long term, the portfolio will face reduced impact from market volatility.

4. Outperformance by 8-10%

According to ‘Coffee Can Investing’ a portfolio that has followed all the steps will be performing better than the market and beating it by 8-10%

Why don’t funds just follow Coffee Can Investing?

If this investment strategy enables you to outperform the market by such a large margin then the question arises as to why shouldn’t mutual funds just follow this investing strategy.

— One of the major reasons is the wait for 10 years. In Coffee Can to judge how you have performed, you will have to wait for over a decade. Very few investors would be willing to commit to such a fund.

– Imagine a scenario where a fund does start coffee can investing. It would have to set up a team that would prepare a portfolio for the fund. What next? Coffee can would require you to simply ignore the investment for the next decade. Setting up a fund only as Coffee Can will have a huge setup cost at the beginning with returns only after a decade. In regular investment firms, the employees are rewarded for the right decisions, investments, and performance. These benefits would only be available to the employees of such firms only after a decade. This would be highly unfair to them.

Despite Coffee Can Investing not being popular in the Indian markets there still are a few Asset management companies still offering the coffee can route.

Closing Thoughts

Coffee Can Investing makes us question if we really are investors. Or due to our reaction to every market change has resulted in us inadvertently become traders. Traders holding the facade of an investor. 

At the end of his paper where Robert Kirby introduced Coffee Can Investing, he makes it clear that his argument wasn’t against index funds. They were directed towards the transaction costs, brokerage fees, taxes that are associated with every trade. Instead, if the stocks are just left alone they would perform much better

What should an Investor with limited liquidity do?

If we take a regular Indian Investor, for him to be expected to contribute a huge amount for the one-time investment would be unrealistic. Instead if one would want to follow coffee can investing but is not able to set aside a huge amount at once it would be better if he does the following.

Create a coffee can portfolio where the investor invests what he can and set it aside for a decade. When he has saved enough again say in a year, create a coffee can portfolio which is completely independent of the one he created earlier with no references to it. It should be solely based on the market conditions prevalent filtering companies based on the present scenario and set it aside for a decade.

Coffee Can Investing: The Book

For a thorough study, I would recommend giving ‘Coffee Can Investing: The low-risk road to stupendous wealth’ by Saurabh Mukherjea, Rakshit Ranjan, and Pranab Uniyal a read. Although there might be quite a few books out there on investing there are very few books written keeping the Indian Markets particularly in mind.

It would be highly rewarding to break the loop mentioned in the introduction. Happy Investing. 

5 Common Behavioral Biases That Every Investor Should Know cover

5 Common Behavioral Biases That Every Investor Should Know

Common Behavioral Biases For Investor: Ever heard of Tech gender problem? It is a situation where the employer favors male candidates over female thinking women are no good at tech because they are women. Even one of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon, faced this bias. (Read more here: Amazon’s machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women — The Guardian.)

Anyways, gender bias is nothing new. Throughout history, when jobs are seen as more important or are better paid, women are squeezed out. And similar to this one, there are multiple common biases that we can notice in our day to day life. But, what actually is a bias?

According to Wikipedia– “Bias is disproportionate weight in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.”

In other words, it is an inclination or preference that influences judgment from being balanced. Biases lead to a tendency to lean in a certain direction, often to the detriment of an open mind.

Behavioral Biases in Investing:

Investors are also ordinary people and hence they are subjected to many biases that influence their investment decisions. Although it takes time to control the behavioral biases, however, knowing what are these biases and how they work — can help individuals to make rational decisions when they are susceptible to these situations.

In this post, we are going to discuss five common investing biases that every investor should know.

— Confirmation Bias

When a human mind is determined towards one particular behavior, it subconsciously rejects the pieces of evidence against it while confirming the ones that go in its favor. This is known as confirmation bias.

Psychologically speaking, an investor would be more inclined towards his pre-occupied information and knowledge about certain kinds of investing. While considering the pros and cons of a certain kind of investment, the buyer would most likely go with what he used to believe until now.

For example: Making an investment in Bitcoin is dangerous and pointless. If this is an investor’s pre-occupied notion then he would most likely not invest in bitcoins in future.

— Gambler’s Fallacy

Gambler’s Fallacy is one such proof which states that a human mind often interprets the outcomes of a future event judging by its corresponding past events even if the two are completely independent of each other. It is inspired by the “failures of gamblers” due to their probabilistic illusions to make decisions in casino games.

Gambler’s Fallacy can be very well explained with the help of a basic example involving a coin. For future reference, let’s suppose that the coin is fair with both sides (heads & tails) having an equal probability of landing on top.

Suppose a coin is flipped 10 times and the result of each event was “Heads”. What would you bet for the next coin flip?

Now, if a human bet on the outcome of the 11th flip of the coin to be “Head” seeing the past events, then it can be considered a bias.

The above context does only imply a simple rule: The occurrence of an independent event is not dependent on past events. In this example, the 11th flip of a coin would result in both heads and tails with a 50% chance of being associated with each one of them.

— Buyer’s Remorse

The regret after purchasing a product is called a buyer’s remorse. Here, the buyers may regret that either they overpaid for the product or they didn’t actually need that product.

Nevertheless, purchasing commodities are not the only thing where people feel “buyer’s remorse”. Stock investors are also like ordinary people, and they too feel this remorse after purchasing equities.

“Was buying this stock a mistake?”

“Was my timing right?”

“Did I just buy a lemon of a stock?”

“Is the market going to collapse?”

“What if I lose money?”

In general, investors feel remorse when they make investment decisions that do not immediately produce results.

— Herd Mentality

An investor’s natural instinct goes with the ones of masses, which means that he/she doesn’t seem to have a rational view on a certain investment but is more likely to deviate where the majority mass is moving — this little phenomenon is known as the “Herd Mentality”.

The term has been derived from the natural instinct of a number of sheep walking together in a herd so as to avoid falling into the pitfalls of danger.

Interestingly, you can also find a large population of investing community following herd mentality psychology in making various financial decisions like buying a new property or investing in the stock market. Seeing others getting profited with an investment, our brain tells us to go for it without a second thought.

herd mentality

— Winner’s Curse

A bidder sitting in an auction and trying to repeatedly bid on an asset often gets intimidated to continue his bidding even if it is not profitable.

As obvious, in such scenarios, the last one to bid gets the asset and hence gets the title of “the winner”. But has he actually won? What do you think? The inference can be a bit deeper than you are assessing it to be.

Such scenarios are quite noticeable everywhere, including investing.

In the stock market, every now and then, you may come across a storyline where people are buying expensive stocks because they don’t wanna lose the opportunity. Here, they are ready to bid a huge price to win that stock. However, purchasing an overvalued stock (only for the sake of winning) is most of the time disadvantageous for the investors. Another example of the winner’s curse is bidding in expensive IPOs.

Closing Thoughts

Most biases are pre-programmed in human nature and hence it might be a little difficult to notice them by the individuals. These biases can adversely affect your investment decisions and your ability to make profitable choices.

Anyways, knowing these biases can help you to avoid them causing any serious damage. Moreover, a good thing regarding these biases is that — like any habit, you can change or get over them by practice and efforts.

What is Sunk Cost Fallacy? And how it Can Affect Your Decisions? cover

What is Sunk Cost Fallacy? And how it Can Affect Your Decisions?

Have you ever been in a situation where you went to watch a movie in the theatre, however, it turned out to be terrible? What did you do next? Did you walked out of the theater or continued watching it till the end because you were afraid that you have already paid for the ticket? If you choose the latter, you have fallen for the sunk cost fallacy.

In this post, we are going to discuss what exactly is a sunk cost fallacy and how it can affect your investment decisions. But first, let us understand what are sunk costs.

What are sunk costs?

Sunk costs are those irrevocable costs which have already been occurred and cannot be retrieved. Here, the costs can be in term of your money, time or any other resource.

For example- Let’s suppose that you bought a brand new machine. However, after using it for three months, you realize that the machine is not actually working as you desired. And obviously, the return period of the machine has surpassed. Here, even if you sell the machine, you will get a depreciated value compared to what you originally bought. This cost is called the sunk cost.

In general, people should not consider sunk costs while making their decisions as these costs are independent of any happenings in the future. However, humans are emotional being and unlike robots, we do not always make rational decisions.

Examples of Sunk Cost Fallacy

Sunk cost fallacy, also known as Concorde fallacy, is an emotional situation where the individuals take sunk costs into consideration while making the decisions.

We have already discussed the example of watching the entire movie (even if it is terrible) just because you, as a consumer, won’t get back the money of your ticket. This is a classic example of sunk cost fallacy.

Another example can be when you eat foods that you do not like because you have already bought that food and cannot revoke that sunk cost. Similarly, overeating after ordering foods in restaurants because food has been already ordered is also an example of sunk cost fallacy.

Further, a typical example of the same fallacy is when you keep attending the miserable classes of your college (that you do not enjoy) because you have already invested a lot of time in that course and also have paid the tuition fee. Besides, salaries, loan payments etc are also considered as sunk costs as you cannot prevent these costs.

A quick point to mention here is that not all past costs are sunk costs. For example, let’s suppose you bought a shoe and you didn’t like it after reaching home. However, as the shoe is still in the return-period of 30 days, here, you can return the shoe and get back your purchase price. This is not a case of ‘sunk cost’.

Sunk Cost Dilemma

Sunk cost dilemma is an emotional difficulty to decide whether to continue with the project/deal where you have already spend a lot of money and time (i.e. sunk cost) or to quit because the desired result has not been achieved or because the project has an obscure future.

Here, the dilemma is that the person cannot easily walk away from the project as he has already spent a lot of time and energy. On the other hand, continuously pouring more money, time and resources in the project also do not seem a good idea because the outcomes are uncertain. This dilemma of deciding whether to proceed further or to quit is called sunk cost dilemma.

For example- Let’s say you started a business and invested $200,000 over the last three years. However, you haven’t achieved any wanted result so far. Moreover, you cannot see the business working out in the future. Here, the dilemma is ‘what to do next?’. Should you bear the losses and move on, or should you invest more resources in that uncertain business?

Another common example of sunk cost dilemma can be a bad marriage. Here, the couples find it difficult to decide whether to save themselves (and their spouse) by splitting up when they are sure that the things are not going to work out. Or should they hold on to the marriage just because they have already spend a lot of time together and breaking up will make them look bad?

Sunk cost dilemma in Investing

Even investors are common people and they face the sunk cost dilemma while making their investment decisions.

For example, let’s say that an investor bought a stock at Rs 100. Later, the price of that stock starts declining. In order to minimize the losses, the investor averages out the purchase price by buying more stocks when the price kept falling (also known as Rupee cost averaging). Here, the dilemma happens when the stock keeps underperforming for a stretched period of time. Here, the investors are uncertain whether they should book the loss by selling their stocks, or should they continue averaging out with the hope that they may recover the losses in the future.

Another example of the sunk cost dilemma is people buying/selling aggressively in risky stocks once they have incurred a few major losses in the past to ‘break even’ those losses. However, the losses have already been incurred and investing in risky stocks to cover those losses won’t do any good to such investors. The better approach would be to choose those stocks that can give the best possible returns in the future, not the imaginary aggressive returns that they expect to match up the sunk cost.

As an intelligent investor, people should ‘not’ consider the sunk costs while making their decision. However, this is rarely the case.

Also read:

Closing Thoughts

It is no denying the fact that nobody likes losing and hence the past losses can influence the future decisions made by the individuals. However, one must not consider sunk costs while making their investment decisions.

As sunk costs cannot be changed (recovered), a rational person should ignore them while making their judgments. Here, if you want to proceed, first you should logically assess whether the project/deal is profitable for the future. If not, then discontinue the project. In other words, try to forecast the future and react accordingly.

Anyways, a few methods of solving the sunk cost dilemma is by opting for incremental wins over the big ones, increasing your options (not just to completely quit or go all in) and in the terminal case, cutting your losses. When stuck in this dilemma, try to make minimum losses by looking at the mitigating options.

5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid

5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid

5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid: Benjamin Graham once said that “an investor’s chief problem and even his worst enemy- is likely to be himself.” It is a well-known fact that the human brain is a wonder that is capable of numerous mathematical, problem-solving and communication skills that is unparalleled with any other living species.

However, when it comes to investing, humans have been known to make terrible decisions and often fail to learn from their own mistakes. They go through a ‘roller-coaster of emotions’ as shown below.

Investment process – Roller coaster of emotions

(Image Source: Credit Suisse)

While the human mind is incredibly unique, people still fall victim to the investor traps that can have serious consequences in the financial markets. This has led to the emergence of behavioural finance, a new field that aims to shed light on investors’ behaviour in financial markets.

This post discusses the most common psychological traps investors need to overcome to increase their chances of earning high returns.

5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid:

— Anchoring Bias

Anchoring Bias occurs when people rely too much on a reference point in the past when making decisions for the future- that is they are ‘anchored’ to the past. This bias can cause a lot of problems for investors and is an important concept in behavioural finance.

For example, if you had a favourable return on a stock when you first invested in it, your perception on the future returns of stock is positive even when there may be clear signs indicating that the stock might take a dive. It is important to remember that financial markets are very unpredictable so you need to remain flexible and seek professional advice when not-sure of making considerable investment decisions.

— Herding

Also known as the mob mentality, is a tactic that was passed on from our ancestors and believes that there is strength in numbers. Unfortunately, this is not always the best strategy in the financial market as following the crowd is not always the right move.

Ironically, this herding mentality among investors is the major reason for ‘bubbles’ in the financial markets. Investors often ‘herd’ to secure their reputation and base their decisions on past trends or on investors who have had success with the same stock in the past. However, people are quick to dump stock when a company receives bad press or go into a buying frenzy when the stock does well.

As an investor, you should perform your own analysis and research on every investment decision and avoid the temptation to follow the majority.

— Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion is when people go to great lengths to avoid losses because the pain of a loss is twice as impactful as the pleasure received from an investment gain. To put in simple terms, losing one dollar is twice as painful as earning one dollar.

Loss Aversion- How it can ruin your investments

As emotional beings, we often make decisions to avoid a loss, this could involve investors pulling their money out of the market when there is a dip which leads to a greater cash accumulation or to avoid losses after a market correction investors decide to hold their assets in the form of cash.

However, this perceived security of exiting the market when it is unstable only leads to a larger amount of cash circulated in the economy which results in the inflation. During the 2007 financial crisis, there was $943B worth of cash increases in the US economy.

Investors can avoid the loss aversion trap by speaking to a financial advisor to learn how to cut their losses and optimize their portfolio for higher returns.

— Superiority trap

Confidence is an asset when it comes to investing in the stock market, but over-confidence or narcissism can lead to an investor’s downfall. Many investors, especially those who are well educated and have a good understanding of finance and in the functioning of the stock market often believe they know more than an independent financial advisor.

It is important to remember that the financial market is a complex system made of many different elements and cannot be outwitted by a single person. Many investors in the past have lost large sums of money simply because they have fallen prey to the mentality of overconfidence and refused to heed anyone’s advice. Overconfidence is the most dangerous form of carelessness.

— Confirmation bias

Confirmation trap is when investors seek out information that validates their opinions and ignores any theories that refute it.

When investing in a particular stock that believe will result in favourable returns, an investor will filter out any information that goes against their belief. They will continue to seek the advice of people who gave them bad advice and make the same mistakes. This results in biased decision-making as investors tend to look at only one side of the coin.

For instance, an investor will continue to hold on to a stock that is decreasing in value simply because someone else is doing the same. The investors help validate each other’s reasons for holding on to the investment, -this, however, will not work in the long-term as both investors may end up in a loss. Investors should seek out new perspectives on a stock and conduct an unbiased analysis of their investment.

Also read:

How can an investor overcome these psychological traps?

The human mind is very complex and there are many factors both internal and external that can affect the decisions we make. The pressures we face in society make it easy to feed into temptation and fall prey to the psychological traps listed above. Being overconfident, seeking validation from others and finding comfort in other people who are in the same boat as you are just some of the reasons that can have an impact on the investment decisions we make.

Nobody is perfect and it is only human to fall into a psychological trap. The best way to mitigate these effects is to stay open to new information and think practically about how the investment will affect you as an individual. You should also seek the advice of industry experts to ensure that your investment decisions are based on well-researched information that can help you make unbiased decisions.

What is Complexity bias? And how can you deal with it?

What is Complexity bias? And how can you deal with it?

Complexity bias means that the complex concepts in our lives are better than the ones which are more straightforward. It is a way through which our brain is hardwired to think that using the source of complexity bias in our lives, and we can have a productive ordeal. It is a logical fallacy that leads us to believe that the complex problems are better and they are happening. The whole term of complexity bias denotes that people are instead devoted to their time on these kinds of approaches rather simpler, faster, and easier to solve.

Examples of Complexity Bias

Simple things made Complicated... Here are some of the most common examples of complexity bias.

1. The use of Jargon in everyday life states the fact that complexity bias is a part of us and how we use the source of complex behavior management to get. When you are trying to talk out of something or trying to evade a type of argument that is going among you and other people, then you will tend to think that using long and big words can help you to keep out of the trouble and the mess. It can keep you safe, as well.

2. Coming to the source of mathematics, let me prone an example here. When you were a kid or let us take an example of when you were in high school, did you think that the complex mathematical problems are accurate? This means that people often tend to believe that if a problem is harder to conceive, then it can say that there is a valuable quantitative insight into that problem, and it needs to have a better approach towards the whole solving issue. This is how our brain presents us with the same.

3. Another example here is the use of the software. When it comes to the management and the use of software, then you can check to see that the complex ones are the ones that you tend to like. Do you know why? Because this is a product of complexity bias as well. If we think that software is sophisticated, then our mind races into thinking that the use of the software can be kept and put together into different means. It will yield fruitful results just because the software has a complex nature and approach.

How can complexity bias be a problem for you?

Well, if you cannot asses the problem now, then let me tell you, a complexity bias into your behavior can tend to do a lot more damage than you think. Do you know why? Because with the use and sourcing of our mind into thinking that a complex behavior will help us to change routes, we tend to do things and tend to adhere to those things which can only show and procreate as complex in front of us. It can be wrong because it can cause a lot of problems later as well.

Regularisation is a fundamental concept which happens and takes place in our mind. For example, when we see people who are taking care of their management and business and doing the things they love, then we do tend to extend our behavior with respect to do. The same happens when we set our goals in life. If we have a more straightforward nature and a way of accomplishing those goals, then we tend to overthink and realize that they are not really what we want.

For example, if you are earning right now, then you might tend to of your taxes at the same time. Well, if you have the complexity bias, then your mind will fool you into thinking that the bigger the problem, the better will be your answer. A lot of people do believe that their goal can only be achieved with the use of sophisticated means, and this entirely happens to the inner sane that we create within us. The same happens and takes place with the source of complexity bias here. With the use of this terminology, people tend to think that the complex their life problems are, the better they can thrive towards their goals.

How to stop complexity bias from protruding your life?

If complexity bias is a constant problem in your life, then don’t worry because you are not the only one here. In a famous survey, it was found that around 56% of the people tend to have complexity bias based on the behavior that they possess. They think that the complex problem will yield them more, and they tend to move towards the one which is harder to solve.

The same happens when you are a kid. If you think that severe problems should be solved first because they are more rewarding than others, then there is where you are wrong. The source of complexity bias is that it blinds our senses into thinking that everything in life, which is simple and healthy, can yield better choices and results too. We tend to feel the same because our brain is wired in that way.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt that the complicated situation is, and it will be easier for you to get out? What was your final solution? Did you get out eventually? Well, around 10 out of every 15 people who have the source of building complexity bias don’t actually get out of a problem. They tend to think that they will do, but then they get stuck.

Take this as an example. A Couple has borrowed money from one man, and they think that they can use the money and borrow another loan from someplace in a shorter time to pay to the man. This is when the couple starts to borrow loans from everyone, and instead of choosing to pay them off, they begin to fall into a loan loop. This is because the couple does have a source and tendency to show complexity bias.

It is better to get a bird’s eye view:

birds eye view

Have you ever thought of getting the bird’s eye view to solve your complexity bias issue? Well, if you have not, then it is your time. With the help of the bird’s eye view, you can see everything that you want. When you are doing something, then they are ‘bound to affect the people who are around you. If you are taking a loan, then your partner is bound to be affected by the same. It is essential that you get a 360 angle and view up from the sky.

As a source writer, I am often presented with a ton of complex ideas and contents to finish. But the ones which are simpler is easier to be done. When I do get the miscellaneous items, trust me, I think that they are useful because they are technical, and they can yield me more value than the others. But what I don’t asses and realize at the same time is, the complex my topics are, the harder it gets for me to understand and how to write on them. And the harder it gets for me to formulate a story in a simple language so that I can tell it to anyone or the readers who read it.

This is when I need to approach and look at the whole problem into the source of the bird-eye view and point here. With the use of the bird’s eye view, I can calculate the origin and function, which can be yield with the use of the simple articles which are collected at my place. It might be simple for me to write, but at the same time, they can yield me many more views too.

Here is how you can do the needful and get the thing I am talking about.

  1. When something is presented right in front of you, don’t procrastinate with it. You need to understand how and why you need to do it so that you can maintain the source of your work.
  2. Write it all down on a piece of paper if you want. If you want to have a good time and keep yourself away from your complexity bias, then writing down everything in a piece of paper will save you from the troubles later.
  3. And the third thing you need to do is rule out the negative that you have got. If you have negatives in your line of business, then you need to understand how you can work through it. You cannot rule out the images for you, but what you can do is, help yourself out from keeping them away from you.
  4. Get a perspective that can help you and the ones who are staying with you. You need to have a proper outlook over the items that are holding you down for the source of your complexity bias. This can only be done with the use of the full point of view that is being talked out.

Also read:

Ask yourself the right questions when you are divulging

Another type of source and problem that can be laid and help you out with your complexity bias is to ask yourself the right kind of the issues that you have. If you don’t ask and question yourself, then you are never going to get things moving in your life. You need to have a proactive session with yourself and understand that the rights and the wrongs depend on your view and the perspective. It is entirely on you.

Here are some questions you can divulge in.

  1. Ask yourself that if this is the right thing that you are doing or not?
  2. Make sure that you keep your time out on the following and understand the source of complexity bias in your life. You need to dive in deep, and this way, you can find a cause or a means through which to get out of your complexity bias-based behavior.
  3. Ask yourself that the complex problems that you intend in your life will yield you something or not?
  4. Ask yourself the general questions like the assessment of the work and how it can be managed for you? You need to look out for you, and this can only be done with the source of you questioning all the details and the intricate source of your life.
  5. Ask yourself that these complex problems that you are undertaking for yourself won’t cause you damage or not?

You need to think before you act, and this is the prime solution for getting over your complexity bias. It can help you to manage the best, and in the right way, these top questions will help you to get over the type of behavior which you generally possess.

Conclusion

Always have an excellent tactic when you are asking yourself some questions. Always remember that people, when they have complexity bias, they tend to over-complicate even the simplest of things. It is better that you ask for a piece of needed advice from your peers if they are sorted out. Or, if you want, then you can look for professional help if the simple things are not yielding much into your life. The more you indulge in these, the more the behavior will grow on you and which can later yield to something complicated to eradicate.

What is Recency Bias? And How to overcome it? cover

What is Recency Bias? And How to overcome it?

Recency bias is a psychological phenomenon where a person can remember something which has happened to them recently compared to the thing that has happened to them a while back.

For example, to conduct a test to check this phenomenon, a person is asked to recall the name of the thirty people that they have met. Well, out of the thirty people, the person will easily tend to remember the names of the people that they have met recently compared to the ones that they have reached a long time back.

Recency bias is the main type of cognitive error that happens to the human brain. It is one of the errors which plagues a lot of traders and investors. It tends the human mind to remember the recent data that are happening in their lives and forget the ones that have happened a long while. With the help of this article, you will understand what causes this problem and how well you can overcome the problem of recency bias in your life if it is affecting you on the financial scale as well.

Why it is your enemy as an investor?

Recency bias is the description which tends to extrapolate the recent experiences that will happen to you in the future. When it comes to investing, recency bias is one of the biggest disasters that they can face. Because when investors try to invest, the recency bias skews the entire reality in front of them, and this is how their views can change from choosing something to selecting another thing.

For example, let’s say that an investor has been making a good average annual return in the last 5 years. However, in the last twelve months, his portfolio is not giving good returns. Here, because of recency bias, he might feel negative and may believe that the market and his strategies are not working in his favor anymore. However, this is not the complete reality.

Recency Bias example trade brains

Similarly, for a trader, let say that out of seven days, he made losses in the first four. Nonetheless, in the last three days, he made consecutive wins. Here, he may feel positive as he might be carrying more weight to his recent trades over the past ones because of the recency bias.

Moreover, many times, investors may tend to stay away from shares thinking that the stock market will fall because it has been falling recently. That is not the case which happens every time as the share market is not always the same. You can never put your trust in it based on recent behaviors.

How to overcome the recency bias?

If the recency bias is becoming a day to day problem then there are proven ways to overcome it. Here are some of them presented below.

— Don’t ever have a myopic view.

Get a grasp on the long term source and try to invest in the market that way. A myopic view means that you are constricting yourself to the four walls of the market, and you don’t want to try something new. You might fall when you are trying to invest somewhere, and there are gut-wrenching actions that might happen as well. But since recency bias helps you to build your views based on the latest outcomes, try to overcome it by thinking about the bigger picture in your life. Just try to expand your opinions as much as you can.

— Always try to work in with what you have in control.

Control all the asset allocation that you have. Try to stay away from the bad investments in your life. Setting realistic expectations is something that can put you down and bring false hopes in your life. Always try to remember the fact that recency bias feeds on the belief that you have in your life. Try to minimize the risks that you have built on your front. Use the thesis and help of the finance operators for your investment business if you have one. They will try to cut them down for you.

— Don’t ever try to get swayed with the latest performance.

As a smart investor, you should not ever try to get swayed with the latest performance or the numbers that are popping up in your life. You always have to understand that something in your life is just a temporary digit. Just like the numbers that you are making in the market to the points that you have scored, not always they will stay the same. So raising your expectation based on the higher numbers is a silly movie, and here is where recency bias plays a part in your life.

Also read: 5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid

Recency bias is a brain illusion

Always try to understand that cyclicality comes with a lot of terrains. There is not a smooth road that you can take to success. If you are trying to get the best thing in your life then there are a lot of ups and downs that you have to face. But you should never determine the outcome or the results based on recency bias.

Recency bias is a brain illusion that happens when you see the latest issues. It is your very brain tricking you into thinking that the same will happen for a couple of other days, as well. Find appropriate assistance if you are finding it hard to let go. There is always assistance if you are trying to look for one.

image for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Debunking the Whole Theory

So let us begin from the start about what is the theory behind the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As we all know, Human behavior is complex. And, to understand the basic of it, you need to dive into the deep level of science. Well, human behavior is the combination of both science and art, so here is an essential prime factor and explanation of it.

In the layman or the economic term, human behavior is based on wants that we generate towards the same kind or towards materialistic items. For example, if someone sees a dress at a store and it is pretty then their instant thought is to buy that dress. This type of human behavior is categorized into a section of wants.  

Maslow said and proved that human behavior is a series of complex happenings in the mind of an ordinary human being due to motivation. The main factor or the module of this explanation lies in the motivational factor, which rules human behavior.

A close look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow first introduced his needs theory in the year of 1943. This was published in a journal back then because people then never had smartphones or tablets. The weekly or the writing was published under the name of ‘Human Motivation and its Theory,’ and he even wrote a book about the same. This Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests that there are specific needs that arise in humans, and they can be categorized in the form of a pyramid.

The topmost of the pyramid is the one that comes at a high level. And the last part is the one which humans need the most or which cannot be delayed. While some of the people criticized his working theory on the needs of the human mind, he suggested that the cycle of life happens with the hierarchy which he has produced in his book.

Maslow did tell that he was always interested to know what made people feel happy, secured, anger, and this, in turn, raises the level of needs inside their mind. With all due respect, we know that the human brain is complicated and debunking it can be hard work but if we categorize ours wants to different sections that we have then it is going to be easy work for us.

As a humanist Maslow believed the same. He wanted to know what the self-desire that people wanted or which could also be counted as the self-actualization needs, which comes at the very top.

There are five different levels of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The first starts with the self-actualization needs then it shifts down to the esteem needs. Then it goes down again to the belonging needs, then to the safety needs and later to the psychological one.

From the basic level to the complex one

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - Debunking the Whole Theory

When you understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you have to realize that there are two types of needs that a human can have.

One is the basic needs like the need for safety and shelter. Or to have food when they wake up in the morning. And the next one is the complex where a human needs to understand his self-esteem. The self-actualization means that a human has to follow his full capacity so that they can only reach the top of their life. So it is sorted.

When it comes to the wanting of needs, then humans go for the basic at first and then they choose to select onto the complex at later.  

The pyramid, which is present for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs refers to the needs and what they relate to the mind of a human being. When a person progresses and has the safety or the necessities that they want, they move to the need of being loved. This comes in the middle where they rise, and this is where their self-esteem needs grow. This is when someone tries to question their behavior and attitude toward something. The topmost level of the pyramid consists of the actualization needs or the standard. This is where a human needs to understand his boundary and his limits to what he/she can achieve in their lifetime.

Breaking down the Pyramid

Here is how the requirements are broken down, which are present at the pyramid.

1. Psychological needs

These are the most common or the primary type of requirements that a man/woman can have. These are also known as the apparent needs which you have to get in your life to survive. Some of these needs include having the food to eat, a shelter, or a place to stay, the need to breathe and live. In the essential requirement of these needs, there are nutrition and air which are added here as well.

Maslow also included that the need for sexual reproduction comes to this point. This is because, for our population to grow and move forward, people need to mate with each other. And this is one of the most common or basic needs that they can have.

Also Read : The Butterfly Effect: This Theory Can Change Your Life

2. Safety needs

Coming to the next or the upper level of the pyramid, there lie the safety needs. This means that a human being in order to live should have a minimum safety in their lives. At this level, their need for security and safety becomes quite apparent. People who want to have control over their lives and the things that they are getting needs to have the safety needs issued here.

Some of the necessary safety needs are financial safety, health, and wellness safety and the security needs that they want from injuries and accidents. People need to obtain an excellent job so that they can be financially dependent and stand on their own feet. And they should have a basic safety on how they are living which matters to their well-being as well.

3. Social needs

The third one is called social needs. This means that in order for the average or an ordinary human being to live in society, they need to have a basic social need. These are the things that can satisfy the human mind. This need in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs helps a human to understand the meaning of being loved, respected, and accepted socially into a group.

Here are some of the breakdown of the needs. The need of being loved, the lack of having romantic attachments, having a healthy family, a group of friends, being accepted to community groups are everything that lies here in this need. To fight mental disorder such as depression or loneliness, social needs are the part which helps a human being. This is to feel being loved by their opposite sex or by their family members.

4. Self-esteem needs

At the fourth level, which comes for the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is the self-esteem needs that are talked here. So what are they? Well, self-esteem is something which is a part of your day to day life. It is the need for being appreciated and have respect for the work that you do. When the requirements which are left at the bottom of the levels are satisfied. This is one need that appears inside your mind.

We, as an ordinary human being, need to be recognized by the others. We have a compelling need where our self-esteem and ego comes, and we identify them. Even though they are not the basic needs, they go and lies in the complicated part here. At this point, after you have complied with the basic needs. And, it becomes increasingly crucial for you to gain respect for the work that you do for others and even for yourself. This is an appreciation or needs that you want from others.

5. Self-actualization needs

The top of the pyramid lies for the self-actualization needs or the need to actualize your wants. At the peak, it lies, and it explains the conditioning of the human brain to attain the kind of desire that they have towards a sure thing.

For example, self-actualization needs mean that you realize what you are capable of. Maslow explained that this need means ‘it is loosely based and describes the full use of the human mind in regards to the talents, potentialities that it might have, etc.

Also Read : 5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid

Summary

For the summarization of the entire Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, here is the essential thing.

  1. The human mind is the complex structure of our life. 
  2. There are two kind of needs which can happen inside our mind called the basic and the complex requirements.
  3. There are five needs that can occur inside us. 
  4. The first is the psychological need or the basic level of need used by people. 
  5. The second lies in safety needs like safety for financial issues and other guarantees. 
  6. The third is the psychological need which uses a human to function on the basis of emotions. 
  7. Esteem needs stand at fourth and that’s where the respect is marked.
  8. The fifth one is called the actualization need or when a person understands his/her entire potential.

The Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a diagrammatic module of how our needs are categorized and based. The higher you move, the complex your need becomes. And mostly Maslow has said that the requirements are based on the income level of the people too. People who have reduced income are more opinionated towards the primary type of the lower level of the pyramid.

And those for the higher section of the society have an opinion for the higher base for the pyramid. There are potent motivators from all around which works for the people to enhance their needs as well.

Fear of Missing Out

What is the Fear of Missing Out and how you can overcome it?

In this article, we will help you to understand the fuel of what triggers your fear of missing out, which is commonly known as FOMO. It has become a popular internet term for teenagers to use these days because according to a recent survey, it has been said that around 6 out of every ten teenagers have been faced with FOMO. It is the feeling of constant depression and anxiety in you that you are being left out from your social groups and even your own family. While others are having an exciting event, you are always being left out or pushed to the corner. 

The term may be new to some people, but it surely is not. FOMO has been happening for a long time now, but since science was not so evolved back then, people commonly mistook it as depression. If you have FOMO or you are suffering from it, then you are at a constant understanding that someone out there has it better than you or doing better than you.  

Especially the fear triggers in this digital age since we always tend to check on each other’s profile to know how we all are doing. And this, in turn, is creating a void or space in us, which is keeping us away from confronting the constant struggles that we are facing due to this hard-hitting mental disorder.

From where FOMO( Fear Of Missing Out) comes?

FOMO is a common phrase that is used by the millennial these days. They might be able to explain the fact of what is happening to them, but most of them lack the intellect to explain how it happens. So here comes and lies the main question. How is FOMO(fear of missing out) affecting your life?

Well, FOMO mainly occurs because the advent of social media has created dawn on time. With the use of the more extensive function of social media, each and every one of us are comparing our lives to the people who are living online.  

Mainly this happens with the top influencers that you see on social media. Sure at the age of eighteen or sixteen, they are making a massive load of cash but what you see on your screen is not what happens in the real stage of life.

fear of missing out

Social media is causing a wave of depression in children or millennials. They are trying to live their life as their’ so-called influencers’ but often end up thinking about how insecure they are. This comes with added symptoms like depression, anxiety, inferiority complex, lack of communicational skills, etc.

FOMO creates a distance of you from the outside world, and this is why the teenagers are always locking themselves up in their bedrooms and weeping over countless things. FOMO can trigger a lot of health issues as well, which in turn can cause these people to binge eat or go without food for the whole two days or more.  

How to overcome FOMO?

When you first started to learn a car, did you rapidly learn how to shift the gears too? Well, the same thing is done here as well. Surely you are suffering from anxiety and depression, maybe even a lot more than others, but you have to take gradual steps so that you can overcome mental disorders such as FOMO (fear of missing out). 

Here are some tips and ideas which you might need to follow if you want to embrace your JOMO (the joy of missing out).

1. Slow down and move at a pace. You need to stop rushing down the things that you do physically and even the items inside your mind. Practice some time out when you are eating, talking, making a pleasant conversation with someone. These days, we are always in a hurry to leave for things, but it inevitably becomes an essential or crucial part of our lives to slow down and enjoy the smallest joys that life has bestowed on us. Set a mental reminder to yourself. You need to feel the things that you are doing every day. Make sure that you are not doing in terms of a chore. Instead, love the things that you are indulging yourself in.

2. Go for the experience and collect the memories in your life. It might feel like a stretch to you, but if you are going for the symbols, then you are wasting the potential years of your experience. If you want to do drugs just because your friends think that it is fresh, learn to say no to them. Instead, pack your bags and ditch your phone and plan a hiking trip with your family or even your best friend. Studies have shown that people who take adventure as a course part of their routine are more likely to rejoice in life.

3. Be willing to say no to things. If you are obsessively stalking your crush’s page on Instagram and finding that he/she is posting pictures with their near-perfect dates, you are going to feel the pangs of depression right inside your heart. This is the prime reason why you have to learn to say no to your mind. Always remember that a sound intention is hard to overcome. Whatever challenge may come to your way, stay determined towards the goal that you have set for yourself. Don’t falter, and you will surely get the results.

4. Do one thing at a time. Yes, you might think that you can overcome the fear of missing out while you are multitasking, but instead, you are putting in a lot of pressure on yourself. You need to focus on one thing at a time to understand the importance of the subject that you are swelling with. Psychologists have said that our mind is like a speeding race car. You might put to any gear, and it will shift the pace. If you want to stop your anxiety due to FOMO, you need to settle down and calm for a bit. 

Also read: How to learn faster- The Feynman Technique!

Can mindfulness help with your FOMO?

fear of missing out

Surely mindfulness can help you to overcome FOMO. Rather than chasing what you cannot have in your life, you need to understand that the best things take time. Pursuing the things that you want in your life will create a false sense of happiness. It will be for a short period of time, but eventually, it will fade away.

To overcome your FOMO, you need to be aware of your surroundings and in the right way. Once you have learned to master your mind, you will eventually find a better cure for yourself.

Also read: What are Mental Models? And Why Should You Care?

80_20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule or the Pareto Principle- How it can change your life?

Have you ever wondered something? That some of your mates or even your business partners do a little and get a lot in return. Well, is that black magic? It might not be because a scientific method which is known as the Pareto’s principle or 80/20 Rule is here to explain the whole deal to you. 

Understanding the knowledge of the 80/20 principle

The 80/20 is sometimes known as the Pareto principle. This was originally an observation made by Vilfredo Pareto that around 80 percent of the world’s wealth is only owned by 20 percent of the population. We are not here to discuss economics right. We are here to decipher the whole trick and help you to prepare for your life scores in the best possible way needed. 

There are some simple tricks that you need to apply to your Life because mugging up won’t do you any good. Living smart is the option right now, and with that comes the need for your presence of mind. Successful people who know how to advance their Lives already have learned the 80/20 rule. It always helps them to prepare life exams and to ace the results later. 

While it does not seem like it is the precisely 80/20 rule which works here, these imbalances are seen in your Life and often in other cases as well.

To this day, the 80/20 rule applies in real Lifelike:

  1. Most of the time, you will see that only 20 percent of the people have the riches of the world, and 80 percent have half of it.  This might seem unfair but it is how it is. 
  2. In your exam time, you can see that students who only study about as little as they want, they will get 80 percent of the marks. The rest of them will attain lower grades.  
  3. In your business analytics, the managers or the workers who only spent less time of their work into the business then they are obtaining 80 percent of the incentives. The 20 percent is attained for the lower part of your motivation.

The 80/20 Rule to advance your Life

You might be wondering what the 80/20 rule is so here we will cover it for you. For instance, living with a limited amount of resources for a day can be hard for you. Under final observation, it is seen that different people have a distinct style of coping, and that is how the whole factor is determined.

Studies have seen that people who have only put 20 percent of their effort have scored above 80 percent of the results toward’s their achieved goals. 

You might be thinking that how it really happens but well, there is a trick to it. Don’t apply if you don’t know the entire rule. The beauty of the 80/20 rule is that it works for you, and it is quite simple to understand as well. Even you can turn around your life in just a single way if you are using this strategy. If your friend is struggling and always finding it hard to cope better with their Life, then you can recommend this to him/her as well.

How does it work?

 

80/20 rule

(Image credits- Buffer)

One of the best mental models that you can get around for yourself is the 80/20 or the Pareto principle. You can basically apply it in your daily life, and it helps you with a lot of things that you want to improve in. Like if you wish to have better learning skills, use this principle to do better. This can also be used by people who want to analyze better ideas for their business and else.

Well, the 80/20 rule is used to improve everything in a well-systematized way.  

If you are a typical analyst of Life, then what do you do? You spend half of the time into sulking the fact that why you are not getting your dream job or doing productive work in a single day. Your version of living Life is wasted onto the thoughts that you put inside it. Pareto’s principle is the mental model you can use.

You need to understand where your focus lies and make sure that it sticks to it. You need to have a core and basic understanding of your surroundings. Here, you cannot dive into the growth of the process. You have to get the pieces together, and only then you can dive into the success of Life. By putting the right type of focus on the work that you do, you will be changing your Life for the best. It will help you to get a charge on your Life.

Using the 80/20 rule for your benefit

Well, according to the Pareto principle, you need to devote a few hours of your time and focus on the thing that you want in your life. 

The rest of the time which you waste should be accounted for a minimum part. It is only for a smaller potent. This does not usually happen to the majority of the people out there. They will take their time to understand and then focus on their Life.  Here is something you can look out for. 

  1. Make sure that you only spend 20 percent of the time in understanding your goal. Understand that the 80 percent is meant for you to persuade it. 
  2. When you are wasting your time, waste only for 20 percent, rest, use it for your source. 
  3. Eighty percent of your time is spent on the mindless hunting of better apps and fiddling with your phone. 
  4. Use the 80 percent of your time into collecting the information you need to change your Life. The best hack lies here.

Prepare for the best 

These preparation strategies are here to improve the potency of your Life and advance the options. Using Pareto’s principle will help you to find the best meaning to Life. Always understand that keeping the priorities ahead of you will help you to land somewhere in Life.

no time to invest problem

Excusing ‘No time to invest’ has become a National Problem!

It’s a known fact that the majority of the Indian population do not invest their money. Apart from little allocation in a few traditional investment options like gold, savings, fixed deposits or LICs, the involvement of Indians in the higher-rewarding investment opportunities like Stocks, mutual funds, ETFs is quite minimal. If we look into the equity market, hardly 2.5% of Indians are actively involved.

Now, according to the non-investing population, the two biggest reasons that stop them from investing are ‘lack of education’ and ‘lack of time’.

For the first part i.e. the lack of education, it might be a little fault of our education system, somewhat of the parents but mostly of the individuals. Investing is not a rocket-science that only people with high-IQ can pursue. Anyone can learn and start investing. People should not always blame others if they are not ready to learn. There are a lot of free resources available online and offline, which is enough to get adequate investing knowledge.

Anyways, the other common excuse that most people make for not investing is that they don’t have enough time to invest. “No time to research where to invest!”. A few may even argue that setting up a trading account and making investments takes a lot of time which prevents them from investing.

However, all these are just excuses. In this online era, setting up demat and trading account is very fast, paperless and hassle-free. In fact, you can set up your trading account with online brokers like Zerodha, within 10 minutes. The problem is that you never researched where to open your trading account or how to get started.

It all depends on your priority…

“It takes too long to invest” — This is just another myth among beginners. However, it does not take as much time as every newbie assumes and investing habit can be easily adjusted in your day to day life.

If you can make time to go to the gym everyday, dining out every other day, partying on weekends, or going on vacations every three months, then stop saying you don’t have time. As a matter of fact, if you are ready to spend 2–4 hours every week, it is good enough to start and monitor your investments.

Further, even if you have a very hectic routine, you can steal a few minutes here and there. Like while traveling in your cab/metro, during your lunchtime, or even while having your coffee. At these time, instead of scrolling on facebook, you can do your investment research using mobile apps, which are super easy, fast and provides with all the facilities that you need.

Moreover, even if you are not ready to put a lot of efforts or time, there are still many easier routes to start investing. For example– investing in mutual funds or investing through Robo-advisors. If you believe that you won’t even be able to spend 2–4 hours per week for your investments, then pick a fund and start a monthly SIP. All these investment options do not take a lot of time.

Having no time to invest in a lame excuse for non-investors. The thing is these people never prioritize investing. They always keep procrastinating to invest for later, arguing that they do not have enough income/savings. Here, people are not investing because of the lack of priority, not the lack of time!

priority no time

You are losing ‘Time’…

“Start investing early” — this is the best advice that anyone can give you.

When you begin investing early, time is in your favor and so is the power of compounding. You will be way ahead of your peers towards building your investment corpus if you start investing even just a few years prior to them.

When you are excusing not enough time to invest, you are losing time that could have been your biggest ally. Remember, time can help or hurt you.

Also read: Bunty and Babli: A financial story of how Bunty lost Rs 1,29,94,044!

Sometimes later becomes never…

Every week, I receive dozens of emails from people in their 50s or 60s who have never invested in the equity market and now planning to enter.

Now, by no means, I am saying that people in their 50s or 60s cannot invest. As a matter of fact, it’s never too late to get started. However, these people kept excusing ‘no time to invest’ during their adulthood, which later resulted in them not to invest at all.

If you are young, you have a great advantage. Instead of throwing it away by making a lame excuse, take the best out of it.

Besides, you do not need to have a high paying job or large savings to start investing. Even people with medium to low salary range can invest smartly to reach their goals. If you are not sure how much, then a monthly SIP of Rs 5,000 is good enough to begin. That doesn’t sound too much to invest, does it?

No one cares about your financial goals except you…

Your friends will encourage you to party harder. You relatives will emotionally charge you to buy a fancy car/house to impress them. Your neighbors will challenge you to live above your standards to match them. But no one will motivate you to save more or to invest more.

No one cares whether your net worth or total asset is growing overtime or not. Everyone is dealing with their own financials/hardships and they don’t have any time for you.

The only one who cares about your financial situation is yourself. If you do not take charge of your investments, no one else is going to do it for you. The only way to secure your future and have enough money in your bank account is by becoming proactive and responsible for your financials.

Closing Thoughts

Stop excusing that you do have spare time to invest, instead start acting. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If you are not investing, it’s not because you don’t have time. It’s because you do not understand the importance of investing.

And five years from now, you’ll regret why didn’t you start investing early.

Finally, as a bonus, if you are ready to take your first steps in the world of investment, here’s a free guide that can help you to get started. Good luck!

How to learn faster- The Feynman Technique cover

How to learn faster- The Feynman Technique!

As the world around us evolves, we seek to constantly learn and absorb new information every day. Learning new skills and concepts is exciting and can expand your views on the world as you know it, making you a better student and human being. As Benjamin Franklin said ‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’.

But there is no denying that learning all this new information can sometimes get tedious and monotonous, there’s only so much knowledge that your mind can take in at any given time. However, thanks to scientific research, there is a method you can use to make the process of studying easier and efficient while increasing your ability to learn- the Feynman Technique. But before we discuss this technique, let me first introduce Richard Feynman to you.

Who was Richard Feynman?

richard feynmanTheoretical physicist and Noble laureate Richard Feynman was born in 1918 in Queens, New York. From a very young age, Feynman quickly took to science and engineering and had a laboratory in his parent’s home where he built various electronic devices.

By a young age, he was self-taught in various subjects such as algebra, trigonometry, and integrals. Eventually, Feynman went on to study at MIT and later Princeton for his Ph.d, where he made numerous contributions in the field of Physics. Some of his accomplishments include:

  • He contributed research papers on the theory of light and matter which earned him a joint Noble Prize in 1965.
  • When the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred, Feynman helped research scientists understand the cause for the crash and the risks involved in flying the shuttle
  • He made a major contribution to quantum physics through the Feynman Diagram. The diagram aimed to visualize the interactions between elementary particles such as electrons and photons.

In addition to the major contributions to Physics, Feynman had the ability to apply his learnings to other fields such as mathematics and biology. He has the ability to comprehend and explain information on a variety of subjects that earned him the title ‘The Great Explainer.’ His vast knowledge led him to give numerous guest lectures at universities such as Cal Tech and UCLA. Many people, including Bill Gates, enjoyed his lectures due to his ability to break down and simplify complex scientific principles.

The Feynman Technique

Say you want to have a good understanding of a really hard concept in a discipline of your choice. There’s a chance that you may find the theory hard to comprehend as the crux of the matter is lost in translation aka with all the business jargon. The ability to understand and communicate these complex ideas in a simple way is what the Feynman technique addresses.

This method was developed by Richard Feynman when he was a student at Princeton. He kept a notebook of concepts and theories that he did not understand and spent time breaking down each process and understanding its parts individually, while looking for contradictory details in the theory. The technique essentially comprises of four parts as follows:

1. Pick the concept or theory you wish to learn

The first step in the Feynman technique is to identify what concept or theory you want to learn and list out everything that you know about the topic in a notebook. This could be any concept, under any discipline.

For instance, if you want to learn more about the game theory, your first step would be to write down all the existing (even limited) information that you have on the topic. Any new information about the theory from various other sources can be added to the notebook. For the game theory, you can start by writing down the definition of the concept and any information about the theory that you may have come across (for example prisoner’s dilemma…).

2. Teach or explain the concept in your own words to someone else

As you approach the second step in the Feynman technique, you would have gathered plenty of information on the subject (in this case game theory). Read through the information you have written down and try to understand the concept as best you can because this step involves teaching it to someone else.

But before you explain the concept, analyze the information in parts, this can also mean re-writing some of the information in your own words to have a better understanding. When explaining the concept, think of it as explaining to a child who has no background in what the concept is about. Hence, you need to use simple words (no jargon) and keep the information concise and to the point- children have a low attention span.

3. Identify any areas in your explanation that you can improve on

Now that you’ve explained the concept to someone else, it is likely that you will find a few areas in the theory that you can learn and improve on. So it’s back to the books to do additional research on certain concepts and breaking the data down further until you understand them completely. The goal is to make the information as simple as possible because that’s what the Feynman technique is all about.

4. Restructure the information and use examples as needed

The information you collected from various sources in the first step of the Feynman technique is essentially a puzzle that you need to solve.

Once you have identified the gaps in your information in step 3, your next move is to fill in these gaps to complete the puzzle. Think of your concept as a story and pretend that you are narrating it to a friend or co-worker.

When you say the information out loud, it can help identify the missing pieces and form new thought processes. Alternatively, you can use examples to simplify your learnings and add an element of creativity.

the feynman technique safal niveshak

(Image credits: Safal Niveshak)

Also read:

Conclusion

The Feynman technique aims to simplify complex learnings by breaking them down into smaller parts.

The technique can help you understand pretty much any concept or theory known to man and it helped Feynman amass large amounts of knowledge at a very young age. The trick is to break down any concept into a form so simple, that even a child would be able to comprehend the information. Albert Einstein famously said ‘if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’

the butterfly effect cover

The Butterfly Effect: This Theory Can Change Your Life

It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can cause a typhoon halfway around the world.

One of the greatest surprises in the scientific world is the chaos theory or butterfly effect which are events in our lives that are both non-linear and unpredictable. While science traditionally deals with outcomes that can be predicted and calculated to a certain extent like chemical reactions or the force of gravity, there are often many instances that are nearly impossible to predict like natural disasters, stock prices or the weather.

The first step to overcoming this unpredictability is to understand the chaotic nature of the world we live in. Identifying the elements that cause changes in stock price or the weather can help us steer our thinking in a certain direction. Finally, we need to remember that our eco, social and economic systems are all interconnected and taking negative actions on any of these systems can result in detrimental consequences.

The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect describes the phenomenon that a small event can have very large consequences.

This chain reaction is perfectly described in the movie ‘Pay it forward’ where a small boy, Trevor, creates a plan of kindness for a school project.  A recipient of a kind favor carries forward this favor to three other people. As the movie goes on we see this circle of people who do favors become bigger and bigger and ultimately affects the lives of many people in the community. One random act kindness started by a small boy resulted in a very large impact, changing everyone’s lives for the better.

While the movie represents a glass half full situation, the butterfly effect can be negative as well. For example, as much as meteorologists try to predict natural disasters, there have been tsunamis and typhoons that are inexplicable.

It is important to remember that the butterfly effect is not a small event that can have a large impact which can eventually be driven to the desired end but it is in fact a small event in a complex universe that can either have a very large impact or no impact at all. It is virtually impossible for us to identify or predict which one will occur.

The invention of the butterfly effect

In popular culture, the butterfly effect is used to describe the explain the inexplicable. How one small event can have a magnanimous effect on a completely unrelated event. This theory was first discovered by an MIT meteorology professor, Edward Lorenz who came across the phenomenon while conducting some weather-related research.

In 1963, Lorenz was conducting research on weather patterns and entered numbers into a program that was based on 12 variables such as wind, speed, and temperature. These values would be depicted on a graph that would rise and fall depending on the weather pattern. Lorenz ran a stimulation similar to the one he ran previously and the results he saw surprised him.

The variables were drastically different from what he saw previously when he ran the same stimuli. This would forever change the way his program produced weather patterns. He said “the numbers I had typed into the computer were not exactly the original ones. They were rounded versions I had first given to the printer. The initial errors caused by rounding out the values were the cause: they constantly grew until they controlled the solution. Nowadays, we would call this chaos.”

This unexpected change in the value of the variables based on the same stimuli led Lorenz to the powerful insight that the smallest of changes could have large unpredictable effects. He later termed this the butterfly effect saying that a butterfly could flap its wings in one part of the world and it could cause a typhoon in a completely different place. This led him to the conclusion that even with knowledge of primary conditions, the future was virtually impossible to predict.

Lorenz presented his findings in a paper titled ‘Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow’ which is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century physics. He said that there are small variables that can have profound impacts on the same body or system in the future. The strength of the impact is however unpredictable. Weather is a variable that is often hard to predict.

How the butterfly effect has impacted reality?

There are many references in real life (also represented in popular culture) where a small event has resulted in a large consequence- the butterfly effect. Here are a few ways the butterfly effect has shaped modern history.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is remembered as one of the most significant events in the war that changed the course of history and won Korea their independence. A little research into the war will tell you that the U.S intended to bomb the Japanese city of Kuroko.

However, on the fateful day, bad weather conditions prevented the U.S from doing this. The fighter planes flew over the city three times and eventually gave up due to the lack of visibility. The military personnel then made the split second decision to bomb Nagasaki instead. This bombing, as has been documented in history, had a magnanimous effect on the war and changed the course of history. If the weather conditions in Kuroko had been better, it might have resulted in a completely different outcome.

The Chernobyl accident

In Soviet Ukraine, 1986, a catastrophic accident occurred at a Chernobyl nuclear plant. The disaster was a result of design flaws in the reactor and the arrangement of the nuclear core that was not in accordance with the manual. This nuclear accident is said to have released more radiation that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Numerous people were evacuated and it also resulted in deaths and birth defects.

However, the accident could have been much worse, after the initial release of radiation three workers volunteered to go turn off the underground valve which is said to have eventually killed them. This was a brave and heroic act because had they not turned off the valve when they did, more than half of Europe would have been destroyed and inhabitable (the butterfly effect). The Chernobyl accident has had numerous long-term effects and many believe it is the cause of global warming. Countries today are slow to adopt nuclear power as an energy source.

Closing Thoughts

While the human race thrives on control and predictability, the butterfly effect shows us that we, in fact, cannot predict the future. The complex universe around us is chaotic and vulnerable to even the smallest of changes. As humans, we can only identify catalysts that react to these conditions. However, if we try to control or predict outcomes, more often than not, it will result in failure.

Finally, always remember what the butterfly effect actually teaches us- “Everything that you do matters”. 

mental models cover

What are Mental Models? And Why Should You Care?

“Like a pane of glass framing and subtly, distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see”- Peter Senge.

Have you ever stopped to question your perception of the world around you? Have you asked yourself: ‘Is the way you view something really how it is in the real world?’ More often than not the answer is NO because our current perception of the world serves us quite well. In fact, we barely question it at all because that’s how limited our view of the world really is.

But have you stopped to think, that in a world so large and complex, there’s more to life than what we see and recognize? For instance, there are so many ways we can look at a problem and at the same time, there’s always more than one solution to the same problem. As humans, it can be a challenge to analyze and understand the vast amounts of information present in this world which is why we need mental models.

What are Mental models?

In its most basic form, a mental model is an image or model a person has of the world around them, that is, how they perceive their surroundings. This view varies by each being and it helps shape their behavior and how they react to the different situations they are presented with. However, many people only have one mental model and try to use it to solve a variety of problems.

In 1994, during a speech to business school students, Charlie Munger summarized this with a quote ‘To the man with one hammer, every problem looks like a nail.’ Possessing just one mental model is equal to having a very narrow perception of the world, which, essentially, is not a great way to operate in the ever-changing world we live in today.

There are numerous mental models that vary by discipline and developing multiple models can help you think more rationally. Here are three mental models used in business, psychology, and economics to help you get started:

Confirmation Bias (Psychology)

Confirmation bias is the tendency of humans to favor the information that aligns with their values and beliefs and ignore everything else that doesn’t fit into our perceptions. A great example would be the Buzzfeed personality quizzes like ‘What Harry Potter character are you?’ Before you even take the quiz, your confirmation bias or the way you perceive yourself has already decided that its Hermione Granger of course!

You have already confirmed the answer to the quiz based on the traits of the character and how they match up to your own personality. This confirmation bias can be applied to our everyday lives as well. Very often we find ourselves making purchases based on confirmation bias and later finding a rational reason to justify the purchase.

A simple way to overcome confirmation bias is to analyze your reasons for buying something, be it a stock or a car- you need to look at both sides of the coin. Make a list of the pros and cons along with the reasons why you want to make the purchase and why you might want to sell it in the future.

Also read: 5 Common Behavioral Biases That Every Investor Should Know.

Moral Hazard (Economics)

A moral hazard is when one party or entity makes a decision on how much risk to take while another party suffers the consequences if things go south. Moral hazard can be dangerous as it can cause the party that does not bear any costs to practice reckless and impetuous behavior.

While in theory, moral hazard can seem unlikely, as society has come to believe that the person making the decision has to bear its associated costs as well, this concept is very much prevalent in the insurance and medical industries. For example, a person taking out a policy on fire insurance has no motivation to protect their home from the risk of fire as they know that any damage caused by fire will be the responsibility of the insurance company. Likewise, in the medical industry, doctors are more likely to prescribe expensive treatment or surgery to their patients if they are covered by medical insurance.

Another great example of moral hazard is during the 2008 financial crisis, where banks and other financial institutions were close to bankruptcy due to their recklessness and poor decision-making. In the end, it was the government that had to intervene and prevent these companies from going under using tax-payers money to bail them out. The consequences of the poor deal-making on the side of the banks was borne by the government.

Network Effect (Business)

A network effect is when the utility you receive from using a product increases as more people use the same product and service and is a common mental model used in business.

A great example is the different types of social media we use today. When Twitter was first introduced, not many people knew exactly what it was and hence not many accounts existed. At this time your motivation to create a Twitter account is not too high as there aren’t many people you can interact with on the platform. But as Twitter gained popularity and more people started using it, you were more inclined to join as the utility you receive from it is now much greater than it was before. The network effect has made Twitter a major source of news today.

The network effect is prevalent in e-commerce sites as well. With websites like Amazon, the value of the platform increases as more people purchase goods and services and leave positive reviews. This encourages more people to use the platform, thus increasing revenue for the company. The network effect is a mental model used in many businesses and is a great way for companies to gain a competitive advantage in the market they operate in.

Resources to read:

Conclusion

The mental models listed above are just three in a long list of models that exist. Mental models can vary by discipline and it can often be a challenge for humans to learn and understand all the models that exist.

However, it is important to master the primary models to gain the wisdom of the world. Charlie Munger refers to these as the ‘Big Ideas.’ Mental models can help you think ‘outside the box’ and widen your perspectives on the world. You can use them to make wise and intelligent decisions!

Prisoner's dilemma cover

What is the Prisoner’s Dilemma?

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a popular two-person game of strategic thinking that is analyzed as part of game theory. It demonstrates how rational individuals are unlikely to co-operate even when it is in their best interests to do so.

The game uses the example of two prisoners being interrogated and how they respond and change their strategy over time depending on the situation.

However, before we discuss the prisoner’s dilemma, let’s first understand what is game theory.

What is Game Theory?

Game theory is the use of mathematical models to identify the reasons for conflict and cooperation between individuals. It helps us understand why an individual makes a certain decision and how their decision affects others.

The application of this theory in non-gaming scenarios is called gamification. The three main branches discussed below are closely related to game theory:

— Decision theory: This can be described as a game of an individual against nature. People’s decisions are based on their personal preferences and beliefs. The decision among risky alternatives is described by the maximization of the utility function. In turn, the utility function is dependent on various factor but mostly the level of money income.

— General equilibrium theory: This is a branch of game theory that deals with a large group of individuals such as consumers and producers. It is used in macroeconomic analysis such as the tax policy, to analyze the stock market or to fix exchange rates.

— Mechanism theory- While the game theory follows the rules of the game, the mechanism theory discusses the consequences associated with each of the rules. The questions addressed include wage agreements, spreading risk while maximizing revenue.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Game theory can be described as two players playing a game and listing out the choices and alternatives available to each player.

A famous example of the game theory is the Prisoner’s Dilemma where two individuals who are partners in crime are caught by the police and interrogated in two separate rooms and are given the chance to confess.

Since each prisoner has two possible options (either to confess or don’t confess i.e. remain silent), there are four outcomes to the game as represented in the matrix below:

the prisoner's dilemma 1-min Rules of the game:

  • If both players confess to the crime, they both get sent to jail but they will get a shorter sentence if one of the players is ratted out by his partner in crime.
  • If one player confesses while the other one remains silent, the one who remains silent gets a long severe prison sentence while the one who confesses goes free.
  • However, if both players don’t confess, they both get a shorter prison sentence than if they were to both confess.

 The options in the game (both risks and rewards) are represented as utility numbers.

In the table above, the positive numbers are favorable outcomes while the negative numbers are negative outcomes. However, one outcome is better than the other if the total value is greater. So -5 is better than -10.

In the table above, there are four outcomes, if both players confess, they are blamed equally for the crime (-5,-5). But if one player provides information on the other player in exchange for going free, the individual receives a utility of 3 units. But the other prisoner who does not confess and is sent to prison has a low utility of -10.

The last option is both prisoners don’t confess and sent to prison on reduced terms which results in a very low utility of -1.

Analyzing the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Once the various outcomes in the game are described, the next step is to analyze how the players are likely to respond. Economists make two assumptions when it comes to analyzing this game.

The first is that both players are aware of the total payoffs for themselves and the other player. The second assumption is that both players are looking to satisfy their personal gain from the game.

To analyze the outcome of the game, we can look at the most dominant strategies- this is the most optimal solution for one player, despite the response of the other player. Using the table above, confessing to the crime would be the dominant strategy for both players.

  • It is better for player 1 to confess if player 2 confesses as well because a utility of -5 is better than -10.
  • Player 1 should confess even if player 2 remains silent as 3 is better than -1.
  • Similarly, it would be better for player 2 to confess if player 1 confesses as -5 is more optimal than -10.
  • Player 2 should confess if player 1 remains silent as a utility of 3 is better than -1.

For player 1 and 2, confessing to the crime would be the equilibrium solution to the game.

the prisoner's dilemma 2-min

The Nash Equilibrium

The Nash Equilibrium was developed by mathematician John Nash and it shows the best response strategies in any situation. It is an outcome where one player’s strategy is the best response to the other player’s strategy and vice versa.

As per the outcomes in the table above, if player 1 confesses, it is in player 2’s best interest to confess as well as -5 is better than -10. And if player 1 doesn’t confess, player 2 should still confess as a utility of 3 is better than -1 and vice versa. The best strategies are highlighted in green in the table above.

Note: In case you enjoy visuals, here’s a simplified video on Prisoner’s dilemma:

Also read:

Why has this game become so popular among economists?

There are many reasons why the Prisoner’s Dilemma has become an important tool for economists in developing numerous economic theories.

The strategies to ‘confess’ or ‘not confess’ is used to identify if certain economic theories ‘contribute to the common good’ or ‘behave selfishly’. This is also known as the public good problem.

For example, if the government decides to construct a road, the construction of the road is beneficial to everyone. But, it would be better for the individual if the private sector and not the government built the road. When government spending does not benefit the individuals in the economy, it is known as an externality.

For two competing firms, the outcomes can be ‘set a high price’ or ‘set a low price’. For both companies, it would be beneficial to set high prices to earn higher revenue. But for each individual company, it would be more optimal if they set a low price while their competition set a higher price.

The game also shows how a rational individual should behave. As shown by the dominant strategy, it is best for both player to confess but in terms of utility confessing only results in -5 unit of versus the -1 unit they would receive if they did not confess. The conflict between the individual and the common goal is the basis of many economic theories.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is an important tool used by economists when making decisions on economic theories and public spending. The payoff matrix can be applied to our everyday lives to find the most optimal solution in any situation.

Monte Carlo Simulation Cover

Monte Carlo Simulation -How can it help investors?

We face an element of risk in almost every decision we make which often leaves us feeling uncertain and ambiguous. Although we have unparalleled access to information, we can never predict the future. A method that can help ease this risk is the Monte Carlo simulation that allows you to see all the possible outcomes of a decision and its associated risk. It can help you, as an investor, to make better decisions at uncertain times.

Background

The Monte Carlo simulation was developed in the 1940s by Stanislaw Ullam, a brilliant Polish-American mathematician who was in charge of the Manhattan Project (R&D for WWII nuclear weapons). While recovering from a brain surgery Stanislaw spent many hours playing solitaire. He was soon drawn to trying to devise the game through the distribution of cards and predict the probability of winning.

Stanislaw’s analysis of trying to predict the outcomes led him to develop the Monte Carlo simulation. It was named after the glamorous gambling casinos of Monaco, France.

What is the Monte Carlo Simulation?

The Monte Carlo approach is a computer-based method that uses statistical sampling to build a model of a possible range of results (a probability distribution) for those factors that have an element of uncertainty.

The results for the uncertain elements are calculated over and over using a set of random values at each time. The values entered as samples into the simulation as input ate chosen at random from the probability of income distribution. These sample sets are called iterations. The simulation produces a distribution of possible outcomes and these outcomes are recorded.

The Monte Carlo simulation is used by many different sectors and industries from project management to energy and engineering. But it is especially applicable to the finance and business sectors due to its emphasis on random variables. The simulation can be used to calculate the probability that the costs of a certain project will exceed its budget and the probability that the price of an asset will go up or down.

In addition to this, the model can be used to determine the investment default risk and assess the performance of derivatives such as options.

Why should we use the Monte Carlo Simulation?

Simply put, the Monte Carlo simulation helps you make better decisions. It helps predict future outcomes based on different scenarios. The technique used in the simulation allows us to measure the risk in quantitative analysis. In addition to providing the outcomes in a given scenario, it lets us know the likelihood of each outcome occurring.

In terms of investing, the Monte Carlo simulation lets us identify all the risks associated with a particular investment. It gives us a range of outcomes so it can show you outcomes for conservative investments and incredibly risky ones. There is also a middle ground for the portfolio which is the outcome of a neutral investment and is particularly useful to investors who want to assess the risk of options.

How is the Monte Carlo Simulation useful to investors?

The Monte Carlo simulation helps investors assess their portfolios and make investment decisions. Modern technology has now made it easy to perform a Monte Carlo simulation with the just a few clicks. The investor needs to enter a relevant time period between 1-25 years along with a downside floor constraint or an upper target value.

The simulator then generates 10,000 possible outcomes by playing out each simulated version in the future from the lowest to the highest risk based on values entered. However, it is important to remember that the simulator does not take into consideration real-world events such as crashes or unexpected events. Reality can differ from the simulator but it is still a powerful tool in understanding the trade-off between risk and the upside.

There are many websites that can help you perform a Monte Carlo simulation such as Vanguard that offers a ‘Retirement Nest Egg Calculator’. Vanguard uses the Monte Carlo simulation to provide the possible outcomes of a retirement portfolio. It takes into account your balance sheet, spending, and asset allocation and tries to determine the probability that your investment revenue will last the duration of your retirement.

Vanguard Monte Carlo Simulation Retirement Nest Egg Calculator

(Image Credits: Vanguard)

Another great website is Personal Capital that also uses the Monte Carlo simulation to assess portfolios. The tool calculates the standard deviation and annual returns on the portfolio based on set targets. The result provides you with three market scenarios, the best possible case, the worst possible case and midpoint between the two. The tool aims to show how a diversified portfolio can be catastrophic when there is a bad market.

Disadvantages of the Monte Carlo simulation

Like all things, the Monte Carlo simulation has its shortcomings as well because no one can predict the future. The simulations are particularly disadvantageous during a bear market. This is because the outcomes are based on constant volatility and can create a false sense of security for the investors. In reality, however, stock markets are very unpredictable and the Monte Carlo simulation does not hold good for these scenarios.

Moreover, the simulation is unable to factor in the behavioral aspect of the stock market. The Monte Carlo simulation could not predict accurate outcomes during the volatile stock markets of 2008. Therefore the simulations only show an approximation of the true value and can sometimes show very large variances.

Also read: The Ultimate Guide to Walter Schloss Investing

Conclusion

The Monte Carlo simulation is used by many investors to gauge the performance of their investments so they can make more informed decisions.

While you cannot trust the outcomes of the simulation with complete certainty, they do provide a viable way to understand the trade-off between risk and investment. It is a great tool for advisors when assessing the potential risks associated with the client’s portfolio. By changing the investment horizon and the upper and lower targets of the simulation, you can have a better understanding of how you can affect and change the outcome of your future investments.

stock market cycle cover

The Stock Market Cycle: 4 Stages That Every Trader Should Know!

From the changing seasons to the different stages of our lives, cycles exist all around us. These cycles are often influenced by numerous factors at each stage. Likewise, cycles also affect the movements of stocks in the market. Understanding how these movements work can help a trader identify new trading opportunities and lower their risk.

In this post, we are going to discuss the four stock market cycle stages that every trader should know. Let’s get started.

Stages in the Stock Market Cycle

The movement of prices in the stock market can often seem random and hard to follow. Prices may go up on certain days, and down on others. To an average person, these shifts are often confusing and the prices can resemble a casino game.

The reality, however, is that the stock market cycles move in similar ways and go through the same phases. Once an investor understands the phases, the markets will not seem so random anymore. The trader can recognize each phase and change their style of trading accordingly. There are four phases in the stock market cycle as follows:

four stages of stock market cycle

(Image Credits: Investopedia)

1. The Accumulation Phase

accumulation phase

(Image credits: Investopedia)

This phase of the stock market can apply to an individual stock or the market as a whole. As the name suggests this phase does not have a clear trend and is a period of agglomeration. The stock tends to trends at a range as traders accumulate their shares before the market ‘breaks out’. It is also known as the basing period because the accumulation phase comes after a downward trend but precedes an uptrend.

The moving average does not provide a clear indicator at this point as the market is not following a particular trend. The longer the accumulation phase the stronger the break out in the market when the stocks start to trend.

How to trade:

The accumulation phase may last a few weeks or a few months. So use this time to study the market and anticipate the right time to enter. The price range during this period is small and not particularly advantageous for day traders. It is advisable not to make large trades at this time until a market trend is confirmed. A current event in the economy can take stock out of this phase as you begin to see an uptrend. Once this accumulation phase is broken, you begin to see highs and lows in the market as we move on to the run-up phase of the market.

2. The Run-Up Phase

Just as the accumulation phase is defined by its resistance to the changes in stock prices, the run-up phase is defined by the price going above this resistance level. The breakout of the accumulation phase results in a high volume of shares as the traders who remained silent during the accumulation phase aggressively purchase stocks. As this period progresses we begin to see a trend in the prices. The highs and lows in the market attract more traders as they begin investing. This result in an upward trend as the market becomes stronger and moves on to the next phase.

How to trade:

This is the best time for a trader to make money. There is a lot of upward movement of prices which is great for momentum traders. Any downward trend during this period is not viewed as a bad thing but rather an opportunity to buy shares. When the market goes down, the shares will get bought up as the market begins to trend again. The run-up phase is best for swing or short-term traders. As this phase progresses, the volatility in the market decreases as prices move slowly every day.

3. Distribution Phase

distribution phase

(Image Credits: Investopedia)

This phase, also known as the reversal stage, is when traders who purchased stocks during the accumulation phase begin to exit the market. A prominent feature of this phase is an increase in the volume of shares but not in its price. The market is usually bullish but the demand does not exceed the supply of shares enough for the prices to increase. There are usually hard sell-offs but not enough to make the market trend downward.

How to trade:

There is a lot of volatility in the early stages as investors begin to pull out of the market which presents a good shorting opportunity as the market reaches the bottom it will bounce back with velocity. The distribution phase is identified through certain chart patterns like the head-and-shoulders top or bottom top. As the phase progresses the market starts to lose its volatility as a range begins to form. This is not the best situation for momentum traders.

4. Decline or Run-down Phasemark down cycle

(Image Credits: Investopedia)

This is the last stage of the stock market cycle and is not a favorable time for most investors. Those traders who bought stocks during the distribution phase hastily try to sell as they are underwater on their positions. However, there are few buyers to meet the sale of shares. This lack of demand drives down the prices of stocks. If there are higher lows in the market for a long period of time, it signifies that the market is headed towards the accumulation stage.

How to trade:

During this phase prices of stocks fall lower than expected so ‘don’t try to catch the falling knife’. A bear marker provides a good opportunity for long trades if the right strategies are used. It is important not to panic and sell during this period because these phases don’t last forever.

Also read:

Conclusion:

Understanding each of the phases in the stock market cycle is essential to making the right decisions when it comes to buying and selling stock. A good way to study these phases it to study the past chart trends of particular stocks. You can identify certain indicators at each phase. Finally, always remember this quote by Yvan Byeajee- “Trading effectively is about assessing probabilities, not certainties.”

winner's curse- investing psychology

Investing Psychology: Winner’s Curse

Investing Psychology- Winner’s Curse :

Have you ever had a chance to participate or witness an auction?

If yes, then you would relate to this better! As interesting as the name of this phenomenon sounds, the outcomes are pretty relatable too.

Many statisticians, mathematicians, and successful investors have discovered and scribbled a pretty common sequence of scenarios that happens mostly during the auction. Let’s try to give you an overview of this:

A bidder sitting in an auction and trying to repeatedly bid on an asset often gets intimidated to continue his bidding even if it is not profitable.

As obvious, in such scenarios, the last one to bid gets the asset and hence gets the title of “the winner”.

But has he actually won? What do you think? The inference can be a bit deeper than you are assessing it to be.

Such scenarios are quite noticeable everywhere – from IPL auctions to jewelry auctions to the real estate to the stock market, you might get to see this every time. The phenomenon could be explained clearly with the use of a couple of suitable examples in this article.

“Winner’s Curse” is quite noticeable in the domain of investing. Generally speaking, a newbie tends to fall in such pitfalls quite often! Keep reading this article to know more about the winner’s curse!

Also read: How to Earn Rs 13,08,672 From Just One Stock?

The Auction Scenario:

If you haven’t had a chance to witness an auction yourself then you have a chance to virtually experience it over here!

Basically, an auction is a set up organized by the “current owner” of an asset who is interested in selling the asset to one of the bidders who are participating in the auction. The owner can be a bank or any other financial institution as well.

A set of people who are interested in purchasing the “on sale” entity are called bidders who have the leverage of placing the bids on the entity. The bidding starts with a base price (the one put forward by the “current owner”) and the bidders have to one-up their biddings to own the asset/entity.

The mentioned set of actions is repeated until no bidder out rules the last bidding. As a result, the final bidder gets the asset – sound simple?

Where is the loophole?

Suppose if the real (true value) price for the asset was 1 hundred thousand dollars and if the final bidder claims it for two hundred thousand dollars, would he still be called as a winner?

Psychologically speaking, the overwhelming and competitive environment of bidding in an auction makes the bidder claim the entity at a higher price than what is profitable (admissible).

This overestimation of the final bid for an entity is actually the cause of “winner’s curse”.

winner's curse graph

New to stocks? Confused where to begin?  Here’s an amazing online course for beginners: ‘HOW TO PICK WINNING STOCKS?‘ This course is currently available at a discount. 

What triggers this curse?

They say, “Emotional stability is one key factor when it comes to investing”.

You would have seen various collaborations of multinational companies. In fact, the whopping amount for which the shares for a certain company get sold is quite huge, right? Well, the winner’s curse is actually playing the cards for it sometimes.

In fact, various multinational giants get caught in this trap. Is it emotional friction or winning at any cost? I’d say both.

The human brain works in a pretty competitive way and the reason can be delved into the core of cognitive science. After the “successful bidding” one gets to realize the loss incurred but the dust gets settled by then.

A rapid increase in an entity’s price followed by its contraction is a sequence followed by various financial experts. The strategy works when a number of people get lured by the so-called “lower prices” of the assets and end up paying for it.

Also read: Efficient Market Hypothesis -The Only Theory That You Need to Read Today.

Winner’s Curse in the Stock Market:

Winner’s curse is not new to the stock market. You can notice multiple scenarios in the stock market where the investments of the people are influenced by the winner’s curse. Few of the best examples are:

1. Buying stocks at a high price.

In the stock market, every now and then, you may come across a storyline where people are buying expensive stocks because they don’t wanna lose the opportunity. Here, they are ready to bid a huge price to win that stock. However, purchasing an overvalued stock (only for the sake of winning) is never advantageous for the investors.

2. Investing in IPOs where the insiders are selling their stakes and public is bidding.

IPO is a scenario where a company offers its shares to the public for the first time. During an IPO, insiders like Promoters, Family, Early Investors- Angel capitalist, Venture capitalist etc are selling their stakes to the public.

However, do you really think that the insiders will sell their stakes to the public at a discount?

Anyways, in order to win, the public is ready to bid a high premium (most of the time) for that IPO. However, after the IPO gets allotted to the people, the winner’s curse starts playing its role.

Also read: Is it worth investing in IPOs?

stock market bidding

You might want to steer clear of this the next time you go for a hefty investment, right? Don’t worry you can try out some precautionary measures with which you should do fine at the “war zone”.

Things to Remember while Bidding:

1. Just as analysis and research are two important things to do before making an important investment. Similarly, knowing the true value of the asset you are bidding for is quite important before you even go for it. You should know that you stick to your actions even better once you have the basics cleared in mind.

There must be a fair standard price of the commodity you’d be bidding for. Get to know about it beforehand.

2. Draw a line: Putting aside an emotional mindset is the best thing that you can do while bidding for an asset as emotions and finance don’t mix well together. As soon as you start placing your first bid, you should know where to draw the line. This would help you hold your grounds in a much better way.

3. Know how important it is for you to win: Rational arguments are always better when you are in a confused state of mind. Ask yourself why does winning actually matter to you?

Also read: Loss Aversion- How it Can Ruin Your Investments?