Amidst the dynamic landscape of personal finance, ‘Nivesh Mahakumbh 2024’ unfolded as a virtual haven for insightful discussions and strategic reflections, masterfully organized by Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd. in collaboration with Hindustan Times.
The event’s commencement was marked by a visionary keynote address from Mr. A Balasubramanian, MD & CEO of Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd., highlighting the role of wise investments in individual and national prosperity. He underscored the pivotal role of mutual fund investments, urging citizens to embrace this wealth-creation tool to actively participate in India’s growth journey and foster financial well-being.
The inaugural session saw the launch of FingoMF, a groundbreaking simulation-based investment gaming platform, by Mr. KS Rao, Head Investor Education, and Distribution Development, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd. Mr. Rao emphasized the platform’s unique approach to making financial education exciting for the modern investor, setting the tone for an engaging and informative event.
Importance of educating young investors
The theme of the first panel discussion was ‘Empowering the Future: Insights for Young Investors from 2023.’
The group discussed the need to navigate the complex realm of personal finance in an informed manner, especially the younger generation. In the wake of 2023, a year marked by challenges and opportunities, and expectations in 2024, the discussion offered a financial and economic snapshot to young investors. It included subjects like the benefits of early investing, tech-savvy tactics, adaptable ways to uncertainties, and the significance of thoughtful financial planning. The panel included finance professionals such as Mr. KS Rao, Appalla Saikiran, Founder, SCOPE, Harsh Goela, Co-Founder, Goela School of Finance, and Gaurav Rastogi, Founder & CEO Kuvera.
Commenting on the upswing in India’s economy, Goela said, “Investors are very lucky now to be a part of India’s growth story. I would encourage everyone to understand different financial instruments. In order to hold long term in mutual funds, they must understand the portfolio of the MF in which they are investing.”
Speaking of FOMO in the investing landscape, Appalla Saikiran of SCOPE remarked, “Some first-time investors enter the market with a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) mindset. This is not a workable option. It makes them susceptible to ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes, such as those that promise that their funds will multiply by 5 to 10 times in a limited period. In my opinion, advice should only be taken from those who are well-versed in the market, with substantial knowledge and experience.”
Mr. KS Rao of Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd. emphasized the evolving role of investor education, especially for the younger generation, comprising 34% millennials actively engaging in the market. With 8.4 million people investing in mutual funds last year, every third application hailed from the younger demographic. Acknowledging the absence of formal financial literacy, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC is committed to providing informal financial education through collaborations with 30 universities.
Some investment ideas
A fireside chat with Mr Mahesh Patil, Chief Investment Officer of Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd. followed. He spoke of market expectations in the year ahead. He says, “Large-cap stocks look attractive, and that too largely from the point of earnings growth. The small and mid-cap segment are not good buys in the short term, but they will do well in the long term.” He spoke of India being in a good position despite a tumultuous global backdrop of geopolitical risks, escalating interest rates, and the possibility of a US recession. For this reason, the Indian subcontinent is expected to attract FII inflows in the coming year. He also spoke about the impact of the forthcoming elections not just in India, but many countries which could potentially lead to several investment opportunities.
Navigating the Financial Horizon: Trends Shaping 2024
The second panel presented a thorough examination of the changing financial world.
The panelists spoke of various trends observed in 2024 – such as artificial intelligence, resilient investors, a rising emphasis on sustainable wealth creation, and the disruptive impact of virtual assets. The challenges posed by digitization were also addressed, providing a comprehensive analysis of the trends that will shape the financial narrative in the coming year.
The panelists Dhirendra Kumar, Founder & Chief Executive, Value Research; Meghna Suryakumar, Founder & CEO, Crediwatch; Gurmeet Chadha, Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer, Complete Circle Wealth and Dr Jasmin B Gupta, Founder, Meit Money, spoke about digitalization, resilience, AI in financial planning, virtual assets, and sustainable wealth creation.
“Investors should be apprised of the basic principles. Diversification matters, and they should choose equity for long-term investments, and fixed-income instruments for the stability of their portfolios,” says Dhirendra Kumar.
According to Gurmeet Chadha, 2023 proved to be a good year for the markets. “Now, I think investors should step back and reassess the situation. I would advise them – especially first-time investors -to have a bias for large-cap stocks. This is also a good time to buy bonds, especially keeping in mind India’s Sovereign Bond inclusion in the Global Bond Index. Then, there could be $30-50 bn worth of inflows to government bonds.”, he says.
Taking the conversation further, Dr Jasmin B Gupta of Meit Money opined that, “Digitization has definitely led to a positive spurt in financial product adoption in India. To ensure we include an even larger population, it is important to use digital technology to offer micro financial products to make it accessible and improve customer participation.”
However, adding a word of caution, Meghna Suryakumar, Founder & CEO, Crediwatch put forth, “While digitization has led to a massive jump in adoption of financial products & services in the Indian population, it has also led to threats to data security, privacy and possibilities of financial losses incurred from threats to cybersecurity. The advent of AI can help in scaling financial decision-making for organizations but it also increases the scope of AI model tampering through hacking via malwares that will lead to devastating impact on the recipient of financial services or on the organization offering it.”
Including more women the investing landscape
Another fireside chat followed on the subject of ‘Achieving Equality for Women Participation in Investments,’ and addressed the issue of gender inequality in wealth. The Co-founder of Basis, Dipika Jaikishan, spoke of the importance of sustainable finance for women, busting stereotypes, encouraging inclusivity in investing platforms, and financial education for empowerment. During the interaction, Dipika said, “In India, even women who are earning leave the financial investment decisions to the male members of the family. We thought of ways in which we could reach out and enable women to learn about investing in a limited span of time.”
The India Growth Story
The last leg of the programme included an interesting talk by Saurabh Mukherjea, author of multiple best-selling books, including Coffee Can Investing, Diamonds in the Dust, The Unusual Billionaires, and The Victory Project. He is also the founder and chief investment officer of Marcellus Investment Managers. Speaking of the investment horizon, he said, “The Indian economy will attract funds as countries across the globe lower interest rates. I would recommend large caps as they are a good buy. However, the investor has to be a bit careful about any rally in small-cap stocks, as the fundamentals of these companies do not change.” The increasing importance of technology was also addressed while discussing the advancements in AI that can help mitigate risks. Mukherjee also spoke of the new wave of AI advisors and AI-driven financial planning tools which could empower individual investors, helping promote financial inclusion.
The challenges of 2023 catalyzed a transformative shift in investor strategies, fostering trends such as early investing, adaptive learning, and strategic asset allocation. As we step into 2024, the financial landscape is painted with innovation amid unprecedented connectivity. The focus on financial education aims to weave a journey where achieving financial goals is not just a destination but a purposeful orchestration.