Assume you were buying gold every month for Rs 10,000. You plan to accumulate a few grams every month and continue building gold exposure over the next 10 years.
If gold prices start to fall in the coming months, how would you react?
Most of us would be happy as you get to accumulate more grams of gold at lower prices. The focus is more on the higher grams accumulated. Since the common belief is that the gold prices will go up over the long run, you view the fall as an opportunity rather than a crisis.
Now if I substitute ‘gold’ with ‘equity mutual funds’, would the reaction remain the same?
Suddenly, the fall in equity markets no more seems to be an opportunity. You are more worried that the fall would continue. We forget the fact that we end up buying more of units in the same fund (just like we bought more grams of gold when prices fall).
Here is a simple illustration:
For someone who invested Rs 10,000 every month in the NIFTY ETF over the last 10 years, as seen below, every time the market falls or is at lower levels, he gets to accumulate more units.
Now, what if you flip the narrative of SIP investing as SUB investing – Systematic Unit Buyer. Someone who is trying to shop for more units regularly.
Lack of faith
When it comes to buying gold by default you have this narrative – buyer of more grams. The reason being the faith that gold would do well in the long run.
Read that line again. This is exactly where the source of the problem lies.
Your lack of faith in equities for the long term.
Equity investing in the long run finally boils down to your faith in human progress and entrepreneurship. You are simply betting that entrepreneurs (who take higher risks) on aggregate will get compensated with higher returns in the long run.
Whenever the market declines (which you should expect on a regular basis), your conviction on Indian entrepreneurship will inevitably be tested.
Unless you get this basic ingredient called faith in place, it is impossible for you to stick to your SIP plan during a bad market.
Price to be paid for long-term returns
Once you get the faith that equity markets will move up in the longer run (mirroring earnings growth), suddenly future bear markets can be seen as temporary declines in prices and a great opportunity to accumulate more equity mutual fund units at lower prices.
So before you decide whether to continue with your SIP or not, you need to answer the real underlying question – Do you have faith in equities?
For investors in SIP, it is natural that the current weak returns will disappoint them. But if you have the ‘faith’ in place this ‘emotional pain and uncertainty’ will have to be humbly accepted as the price to be paid for long-term returns.
While there is no denying the anxiety of what-if-this-continues, the simple solution still remains in the magical two words – Wait longer.
Arun Kumar is Head of Research at FundsIndia.com.
First Published: IST