This column brings to you not only some invaluable investment tips, but some marriage tips that are equally priceless, if not more. You see, investing in equity is a lot like marriage. The male audience of this column who is already married would be nodding his head right now, even though I haven't even begun to tell you why equity investing is like marriage. Marriage does that to a man. We develop a natural, subconscious habit of nodding because our wives tell us things that we don't want to hear, but things that we've to pretend to be hearing.
For unmarried men, this is the first tip - nod, as much as you can. This is truer for investing, because the moment you utter the word 'stock' or 'market' (even if you're referring to the hustle and bustle of the roadside vegetable market), a bunch of people will jump out of the woodworks to tell you where you should be investing. And the funny thing is, most of them won't even be stock brokers, fund distributors or insurance agents.
Now, your first instinct will be to run. However, I'm here to tell you that you should stay put and nod. But unlike the time when you're nodding in front of your wife, this is the time when you should be keeping your ears wide open. The more you hear, the more you know, the more you learn, the more you can ignore. If you're a savvy investor, you'll hear something that will only help you validate the investment decision you'd have already taken. Plus, there's an offbeat chance that you'll actually get a tip worth pursuing. But don't bank on it. You can never tell where the banking sector is heading.
Now, coming back to how investing is quite like marriage, you know how we keep reading about the markets breaching new heights every day, and yet, our own investments aren't doing that well? You get where I'm going with this, right? The thing about marriage is that even if things ain't so good, you pretend that everything's hunky-dory. And you keep at it. As long as you've a spouse who's been good-at-heart, caring and fulfilling in the past, a bear phase will surely turn into a bull run sometime in the future.
The same goes with investing. You can't quit when the chips are down. In fact, that's the best time to stay invested. The caveat is that the company or fund that you've put money in should be good-at-heart, caring and fulfilling, which means that it should follow its mandate diligently, have a strong and focused business model and a history of delivering well.
There you have it. That's the simplest, but the most efficient, way a layman can survive the gyrations of investing and marriage. The ride is scary, the pitfalls are aplenty and the next 100 meters look tricky, but the long-term benefits outweigh even the kilos that your spouse will eventually put on.
In short, hang in there.
This story first appeared in May 2014.