Featured in Forbes on 16/01/2020

Even as India’s GDP rate has fallen to a six-year low of 4.5 percent, the Sensex continues to remain bullish, charting record heights with an all-time high of 41809 very recently. Quite unusual, no? Because the markets usually go high in a thriving economy.

Many investors find it even more unusual since the growth in Sensex and Nifty is not reflecting in their portfolio. How does one explain dipping GDP, rising markets and low portfolio returns? More importantly, how can one use this as an opportunity to make more through their investments in the mutual funds?

Let’s first understand what is happening
First of all, the most important thing to note is that both Sensex or Nifty represent the largest and the strongest companies as listed on the respective stock exchanges and are an average of the *only* the top 30 and 50 companies’ stocks respectively. Not all.

Now, the BSE Sensex has gone up by around 14 percent in 2019. But around the same time, returns in the BSE mid-cap and small-cap companies have dropped by about -4 percent and -8 percent respectively. So, while we keep hearing about markets going up, what we don’t look at is how most of the small and mid-cap stocks are not part of this rally at all. You should also know that not all stocks that are part of the Sensex growth. The rally is driven by a handful of stocks and thus, most stocks were not a part of the soaring markets.

Now let’s understand why it is happening
Since we now understand how Sensex goes up, let’s see why it goes up. The stock market runs more what will happen in the next few quarters and not so much on what has happened already. The market believes that the situation will improve in the medium term, and there will be improvement in the corporate earnings and growth. Thus, investment continues to grow in the strongest companies that are considered safe and you see the rally in the relevant large cap stocks.

Time to press the panic button?
The constant talk of a slowdown, higher valuations, weak corporate earnings and concentrated market rally have challenged the investor community in terms of deciding on with their investment strategies. But, quite often, an investor forgets that his/her portfolio was built on the basis of his/her financial goals, timeline and the overall risk profile which is immune to the economy’s performance in the short-term.

As a thumb rule, you do not need to disrupt a well laid out financial plan based on a market disorder.

Wait, pause and reassess
The present time calls for a reassessment of your existing portfolio and warrants an action basis your risk profile and overall asset allocation. The market will eventually go up, but you cannot predict when. The best strategy is to wait and watch. Simultaneously reassess your portfolio and invest your money accordingly.

Who dares, wins
Remember that a scared investor will look for protection whereas a brave investor will look for opportunities. You can really make money, if you play your cards well.

Following strategies could benefit you depending on your profile.

For a risk-averse investor/conservative investor:

  1. Investing in a large cap fund or an index fund, which invests in a Nifty 50 and a Junior Nifty i.e. the second set of top 50 stocks in the Indian markets, will be a good option. You can continue to expect decent growth in the years to come in these top 100 companies and going with them reduces risk to a great extent in the long run.
  2. Add a dynamic asset allocation fund to balance your portfolio, it will also help you manage the market volatility.

For a moderate risk taker:

  1. Invest in a combination of Balanced and multi-cap funds
  2. You can also add a focused fund to help you mitigate the higher risk of mid and small-cap funds. This combination can help you generate a decent return.

 For an aggressive investor:

  1. Invest in a mid and small-cap space: The overall valuations are very attractive and this is one of the best times to invest in it because the real economic slowdown is quite evident in these sectors. Use the Systematic Transfer Plan (STP) and Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) mode of investments to invest in these sectors. You will be benefitted greatly as soon as the market witnesses a broad-based rally.
  2. Diversify in international markets: You should also start looking at investing in international funds, specially those which have a US market exposure. It will provide you a good geographical diversification and the benefit of dollar appreciation. This can be a good savings and hedge option for your kids’ education or a planned foreign vacation.
  3. Besides the mid-cap and international funds, an aggressive risk profile investor can allocate some percentage in other sectoral funds like the pharma, auto or the banking sectors, which are offering attractive valuations.

There is a slowdown, but not a recession. As shown above, you can still make money. Just remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in the markets. Choose yours, depending on your own goals.

Source : https://www.forbesindia.com/blog/economy-policy/how-to-plan-your-mutual-funds-through-the-slowdown-and-falling-gdp-scenario/