Investment Discipline – The SIP way

Twitter is a wonderful source to gather the latest information and news. In late April 2020, I came across a twitter post from Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy in which he urged his followers to hone their skills during this lock-down. To emphasize this, he shared the story of Lord Indra and the farmers. 

And this is how the story goes–

Once, Lord Indra got upset with the farmers, he announced that there will be no rain & you won’t be able to produce any crops for the next 12 years.

The farmers got shattered and started begging for clemency. So out of mercy, though reluctantly, Lord Indra gave a solution to their prayers and said, “Rain will be possible only if you could convince Lord Shiva to play his Damru”. But Lord Indra secretly requested Lord Shiva not to agree to these farmers. When farmers reached out to Lord Shiva, he did agree to play the Damru but with an additional clause stating that the Damru will be played only after 12 years, thus keeping Lord Indra’s secret request intact.

Disappointed farmers now had no choice but to wait for 12 years to pass by.

But one farmer was consistently digging, treating and putting manure in the soil, he kept on sowing the seeds on the cursed land inspite of knowing there will be no crops for the next 12 years.

Initially, all the other farmers made fun of him, but he didn’t stop, he kept going on and on. Few months went by, now the others were concerned, they asked him,” why are you wasting your efforts, time and energy, my friend, when you know that it’ll still not rain for the next 12 years?”

To this, he replied “I know my efforts are going in vain, but I’m doing it as a matter of PRACTICE! After 12 years I might forget the process of growing crops and working in the field altogether, so I must keep on brushing up my skills so that I’m fit to produce my crop, the year this curse gets lifted!”

Hearing his argument, Goddess Parvati got impressed and she went and praised his version before Lord Shiva and said, “You may also forget playing the Damru after 12 years!” The innocent Lord Shiva panic-stricken, out of his sheer concern, tried to play the Damru once, just to check if he could….and hearing the sound of Damru, it started to rain heavily, and the farmer who was diligently working on his field persistently, while others were criticizing, got his crop sprouted from the depths of the ground instantly, while the others were left disappointed!

The key learning here is that “The game is won during the practice, not during the performance”.  If you are waiting for a good opportunity before you start practicing, then you have lost the race already!

To draw a parallel in our investment journey, we may be facing bad times at present, but one never knows when good luck might strike, and one must always be ready to grab it. Good luck should not find us wanting. As it is wisely said, “When preparation meets opportunity, luck steps in!” That is why maintaining the right asset allocation is of utmost importance. Do not terminate your SIP if your financial need is yet a few years away.

Thanks to the ‘Mutual Fund sahi hai’ campaign by AMFI. Mutual funds and SIP have become household names in the rising middle-class population. While we all know the direct benefits of SIP vis-a-vis-

  • rupee cost averaging
  • small investments at a time
  • reduce the impact of volatility 
  • beats inflation 
  • diversification benefits  

Though there is another benefit as well which is less talked about – 

  • Discipline

Yes, my dear investor friends, SIP is a great tool that inculcates a habit of saving, pay yourself first, and then spend the remaining amount. We may not be disciplined enough to exercise regularly or stand in a queue at the cinema hall or airport but SIP forces us to maintain this discipline at least in Financial matters.

For those of you who are not fascinated by mythological stories here is an example from the world of Athletics. We all know about Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt – the fastest man on Earth. Usain Bolt has won 8 gold medals in 3 Olympics, and he only ran for less than 115 seconds (less than 2 minutes) on the track, earning $119 million dollars. But for those 2 flawless minutes, he trained himself for 20 consistent years. If one considers all those training sessions in 20 years as his routine SIP instalments, the rewards have been tremendous. Aren’t they?

India has a population of about 130 crore people of which more than 80 crores inhabit the rural areas. This is comparable to the entire population of Europe

which is close to 75 crores. We have 35 crore middle-class consumers which is more than the entire population of the USA. The share of youth in our population is about 50 crore, which is more than the population of Brazil, Russia, Germany, and the UK combined. Thus, the consumption market in India is equivalent to a few developing and developed economies clubbed together, in terms of population. Our rising middle-class consumers of goods and services are like a freshly baked hot chocolate cake, every company in the world would like a piece of this cake.

So, what will I do? Well, I will maintain financial discipline by means of right asset

allocation and invest in equities via my good friend SIP, continue to sharpen my skills and upgrade my knowledge. I have my eyes set on the chocolate cake and when the time comes, I shall have my portion of it too with a cherry on top.

Till then, Happy investing!