With an experience of over 16 years spanning across manufacturing, consumer durables, consultancy, education and financial services, Rajeev Sharma, country head of Unicorn Financial Intermediaries` approach to investments is measured and disciplined. He professes a similar approach to young investors, advising them to start early.
Edited excerpts of his interview with Business Line:
> What are your top financial goals?
My top two personal financial goals currently are to build a retirement corpus and save money for my daughter`s higher education.
> How has your idea about money changed with time?
I come from a service class family. Hence from childhood the concept of saving has been ingrained in my mind. That said, in my younger days I did spend more and save less. However, with time, my savings have increased along with the income. My financial goal has changed too. Earlier it used to be consumption based such as holidays and buying a bike. But now I am focused more on retirement planning and child related goals.
> Tell us about your most successful investment, one which made the most money for you?
My most successful investments have been value picking of stocks of good companies with long-term view (five years plus) followed by investment in real estate. Companies such as BHEL, Reliance, Infosys, TCS and LIC Housing have given me good returns.
> One mistake in investing or saving that you regret?
My biggest mistake in investing was in stocks. I bought shares of some companies very early in my career based on tips and now the companies don`t even exist! The promoters raised the money and have closed shop. My learning has been to periodically review the portfolio of the companies and buy shares for long-term only after research.
> How do you plan your investments - do you seek professional advice or do your own research?
I do research on my own, but I have also hired a professional wealth manager for my financial planning and advice. I feel it is important to take help of professionals too.
> What has been your most important learning experience so far?
My most important learning is that one should start early, do proper financial planning and asset allocation and follow the plan religiously.
> Tell us about books or an investment guru that inspired you to think out of the box?
The books, which have influenced me are `Intelligent Investor` and `Rich Dad, Poor Dad` and the investment guru who`s inspired me is Warren Buffet.
> What`s the amount of wealth you hope to retire with? How are you creating this corpus?
I have been advised by my financial advisor that I need a corpus between Rs 2 - 2.5 crore for my retirement. I am working towards achieving that goal. I use SIP in direct equity, mutual funds and gold, apart from investment in real estate. I however plan to retire and move out of Mumbai to a small location in the hills.
> How do you plan your investments to beat inflation?
My investments are spread over equity, debt, gold/silver and real estate. The combined returns have been 12% plus over last several years. Hence, by careful asset allocation I will be able to beat the inflation.
> What`s your message on savings and investing to young people just starting out on their career?
Start early and use discipline in investing. SIP is the best form of investing.