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Thinking of investing all your surpluses in your favourite mutual funds? Read this

Mutual fund advisors and financial planners are asking investors to tread cautiously and avoid adventurous steps in the current market conditions for two reasons.

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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2020, 09.34 AM IST
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The market has witnessed the fastest fall in its history. Many stocks are available at extremely attractive or cheap valuations currently in the market. While the whole world is anxious about the nationwide lock-in and prospects of the ravaged global economy, some brave souls are hunting for the bargains. There are anecdotal stories that online brokerages are facing deluge of applications from individual investors. Some mutual fund investors are also becoming adventurous and talking about investing their surpluses in their favourite existing mutual fund schemes. Is it a good strategy?

Mutual fund advisors and financial planners are asking investors to tread cautiously and avoid adventurous steps in the current market conditions for two reasons. One, we have not dealt with a situation like the current one earlier. Two, it may present new challenges to you on health and professional fronts. That means you have to go to the drawing table and redraw your financial plan.

First, let us deal with the novel situation that has unnerved most experts. It is true that most investment experts typically ask investors to buy more when the market corrects significantly. However, you might have noticed that things are quite different this time. Most experts, especially the sensible ones, are asking investors to tread extremely cautious and do be adventurous.

"On logic based on historical data points , there is no doubt that this is a good time to start investing . However, I wouldn’t want investors to put in their entire surplus today. The world is dealing with a crisis and we don't know how/when the market will emerge from this. Keep that in mind. If you have the appetite to take this risk, invested in a staggered manner over next 25-50 weeks," says Subir Jha, Founder, BuckSpeak, a wealth management firm based in Hyderabad.

What is different this time?
You know the answer. Most of the market falls are based on some negative news, data, etc. However, this time we are dealing with a deadly virus that is striking across the globe and leaving many dead. It is playing havoc with the economies across the globe, probably leading to a severe economic slowdown and huge fiscal deficits.

The trouble is: most people can’t recall anything like this happening in their lifetime. That is what makes the predictions very difficult this time. We simply do not know how soon or how long we would be able to finish off the virus threat. Will the economies around the world bounce back once immediately? Or will it take a long period? So many questions, but no concrete answers to any.

That is why the sensible advice of wait for the clear picture is doing the rounds.

With that we reach the next point: uncertainties on our health and career fronts. Thanks to the forced isolation of people and complete national lock-down, the economy is going to suffer a great deal. Many businesses that are heavily dependent on consumption might be servery hit. Already many daily wage earners have lost their jobs and next is the turn of those working in small and medium enterprises. Unless the government offers incentives, many of these firms will be forced to trim their workforce or shut shops.

This will have a cascading effect on the economy and it might have some impact on your personal careers, too. Also, you should be prepared for a health-related emergency. These two uncertainties might force you to revisit your liquid investments and emergency funds you have earmarked for such situations.

Subir Jha asks investors to be mindful of the risk to their regular income in this critical time, as businesses get hit. "Avoid investing in equities , if your job is at risk . Take help from colleagues/seniors/ friends from similar profession , to assess this risk . These are unprecedented times and you shouldn't risk your lifestyle for earning extra returns in the long term," says Jha.

Many financial planners believe that the conventional three-to-six months' living expenses may not be able to deal with the current situation. You should make sure that you have investments in liquid assets to take care of your living expenses for at least six to 12 months. This is extremely crucial to take care of any shocks from medical expenses and job losses. And it is very important if you have financial dependents or children.

Once you are through with the exercise, you may go for your bottom fishing and invest the money in your favourite mutual fund schemes.

"If you have a surplus (money that you do not need to use in an emergency or for short-term goals), you should invest. Investors should put money in every major fall. However, it is very important to be sure about two things. One, you don't need the money for at least for the next five years. Two, stagger your investment over some months," says Chokkalingam Palaniappan, Director, Prakala Wealth Management.

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