Five Wishes and a Will

4 JANUARY 2021

If on the morning of January 1st 2020 you placed your instructions to invest in the stock markets, in debt funds and in gold and - like Rip van Winkle - you went to sleep for the year and woke up on the evening of December 31, 2020 you would have stretched, brushed your teeth, washed your face, prepared your beer, wine, scotch or chai - then logged on to your favourite financial websites (, and, and break into a happy, content smile.

Gold had gained +28%, the BSE-30 Index was up +17% and debt funds had returned a handsome +12%. Even real estate activity had picked up in larger cities with volumes surging suggesting that the flat you bought in the outskirts of the city centre a few years ago had some hope of finally making you money!

Still smiling, you would head back to bed happy in the knowledge that you were wealthier than at the start of the year - all while sleeping through it. To ease into another deep slumber - but just for one night this time - you would follow the advice of deep-sleep therapists and pick up the "Year in Review", diligently kept by your bedside.

And then, as you read the events of the past few months, the smile would vanish.

Pandemic grips the world.

95% of the world's population in lockdown.

Unemployment surges to 25% in USA.

India's economy collapses 24% in the April to June quarter.

99% of the world's aircraft fleet is grounded.

Global equity wealth collapses from USD 80 trillion in January 2020 to USD 60 trillion in March 2020.

Scratching your head you would read on - but first fix yourself a neat scotch, forget the herbal chai which the deep-sleep therapist had advised you at bedtime.

Central banks printed as much money in 6 months as they did in the 11 years after the Lehman bankruptcy and the Great Financial Swindle enacted by the usual suspects. Is this what kept markets on a high note in CY 2020?

Ben Bernanke is long paid off with a cushy job somewhere collecting money after his deeds as the head of the US central bank but his legend of "helicopter money" has been implemented. Governments are sending cheques to people sitting at home. The office is dead and a lungi with the button-down shirt with a "zoom" focused on the chest and above is the new casual, 5-day week. Is this stimulus money what kept spending levels in many economies at a respectable level - although the gap between the rich and the poor may have widened significantly?

Intrigued, you would read on and note that while the "Chaina" virus has infiltrated the lax societal controls of open-societies, there is no virus in China and the economy in China is humming along. All the online purchases of masks face shields, and PPE suits and electronic gadgets kept the factories in China humming along.

The WHO is still figuring out whether masks are effective, whether Remdesivir is a suitable drug for those severely infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) which causes COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Meanwhile, many doctors have used Remdesivir to treat patients with great success. Large pharma companies (whom President Donal Trump had vowed to cut down to size if re-elected) announced the creation of a vaccine 10 days after President Trump (who had COVID-19) lost his re-election bid to incoming President Elect Joe Biden - the challenger who spent much of his time in a basement learning how to jog the 20 steps from backstage to the podium. The sequel of Rocky VI has found a new mascot.

Keeping aside any conspiracy theories, you would also note that Adani and Ambani benefitted from the pandemic. Furthermore your WhatsApp group chats would be flooded with concocted images of Khalistani dressed as farmers, Muslims stepping out of mosques and wearing a turban to join the "farmer's strike" against a reform that is supposed to benefit them.

And, if you lived along the coast of Mumbai, you would be astonished to note that the BMC spent Rs. 2,000 crore out of a total project cost of Rs. 18,000 crore on having their contractors, L&T, work through the night - ignoring all curfew, social distancing and noise pollution norms which they imposed on the rest of the citizens - for the declared purpose of building a coastal road that will allow 50,000 cars, accounting for 0.2% of commuters in Mumbai, to save 45 minutes when travelling between Breach Candy and Juhu. Or, you may innocently ask, is this a project to reclaim a plot of land that may increase the risk of:

  • the city of Mumbai flooding before 2050, or
  • the BMC going bust before 2050, or
  • politicians milking real estate money from what seems to be a real estate project, with a road attached to it, or
  • all of the above.

The world, in short, has completely changed while you were asleep.

Well, nearly.

There were three related events that have not changed and which may remain a constant:

  • Rahul Gandhi remains an ineffective leader, and
  • The Congress remains a party with an ineffective leader and a party whose expiration date -as per Mahatma Gandhi's wishes - should have been August 15, 1947 but stubbornly occupies that dingy, mouldy space in the back shelf of the kitchen.
  • The BJP needs to continue spending money on ensuring that Rahul Gandhi never leaves India and has ZZZ security while a guest within India - far cheaper than paying people to write distasteful, hateful junk on social media - to ensure that the BJP will win the national and most state elections for eons.

Five Wishes for 2021.

But leaving that aside, the real question to ask is: What Next?

What will 2021 have in store?

This is all the more important because your deep-sleep therapist has made it abundantly clear that, having slept peacefully through 2020, you will now be wide awake for 2021 to witness what the masked, socially-distanced zombies of 2020 end up doing in 2021.

Gulping the scotch, you pen down your 5 wishes - and a will.

Wish 1: Sleep well, not for one year - but for two years!

I will follow the same investment pattern of SACRED MONEY which I followed in 2020 when I met this very nice person, Ajit Dayal (in full disclaimer that is me - the author of this article). He suggested I check with my financial planner why I should not follow a very simple rule: (a) work out my monthly expenses, multiply it by 24 months. Deduct this money from my total savings pool. He suggested I keep 3 months of expenses in bank accounts and 21 months of expenses liquid funds. This will ensure that, even while I am asleep for 12 months - or locked up as you all were for much of the time in 2020, unsure of whether you would have a job, a salary, or toilet paper. This "24 months" formula ensured that there is sufficient liquidity in the bank account and in the Quantum Liquid Fund to ensure my bills are paid for to tide over any crisis.

Wish 2: Make investments in different types of equity exposure.

Whatever money is left from the savings kitty, after I deduct this 24 months money of SACRED MONEY, is my INVESTMENT POOL and I should invest 80% of this bucket in equity funds. Ajit explained how he used the 3 equity funds (Quantum Long Term Equity Value Fund, Quantum India ESG Fund, and Quantum Equity Fund of Funds) to effectively spread his equity investments - using mutual funds - across various "styles" of investing. This way he used the expertise not only within Quantum Mutual Fund but also with other fund managers working for other fund houses (via the unique Quantum Equity Fund of Funds).

Ajit also suggested that, if I was keen to build my own portfolio of mutual funds, I could visit another company he set up, and seek assistance on which mutual funds would be a good fit for me.

If I was adventurous and had the time and interest and keen on doing my own research for evaluating which stocks to buy, Ajit said there was another company he had help set up, where I could get views on individual stocks and then invest in stocks as I wished to. Equitymaster is hosting their annual conference on January 9 and 10 via zoom and you can sign up here.

I could also place some of that 80% earmarked as the INVESTMENT POOL for equity exposure in mutual funds and a combination in some individual stocks via Equitymaster to keep myself busy - and possibly prove that I am a better investor than many fund managers!

Wish 3: Gold is my insurance.

The balance 20% of the INVESTMENT POOL, after the 80% invested in equity mutual funds or in individual stocks, I could consider investing in Gold. It is an insurance against things going wrong. Gold is a currency and has been around for hundreds of years. All paper currencies issued by governments have lost value against gold over long periods of time. Gold can be kept in 3 forms, just as you keep currency notes in your pocket, some cash in your cupboard and some money in your bank account. People wear gold (like having notes in their pocket), there is some gold in the cupboard at home (as there is cash in the cupboard), and we may have gold in a locker (as we have cash in a bank account). Ajit suggested I should review the Quantum Gold Savings Fund as a place to invest for the "gold in a locker". An investor can switch from gold fund to other funds easily and the transaction costs, the purity of the gold make such a "switch" easier. There is also the Quantum Gold ETF but then one requires a broker or broking account to buy or sell that: it can be done.

Wish 4: Come together, for a common purpose.

Well, this is a non-monetary wish. I know that our country is going through some very tense times. There is a lot of anger and hatred between people. Any dissent or questioning of a statement is seen as an insult - when it may be that there is lack of awareness of a background. Trying to find a common ground is important. Rohini Nilekani, in a NDTV series in 2008, spoke about - and then wrote about - Uncommon Ground, the tensions between business, government, and people. These have increased over the past decade and - if there is a perception that migrants, farmers, civil society, Ambani, and Adani have been treated unevenly and these are indications over the past one year while we were locked up and asleep - then all is not well in Hindustan. If the "sabka" is missing in "sabka vikas", it is time to bring it back into the equation.

Wish 5: Certified Family Guardian, a course for woman and children!

While I was fixing my third scotch - what else can one expect when one catches up on the news of the past one year - I saw this note from my two sisters. It was panicked, unsure, uncertain, and tinged with anger. "What do we do with our money?"; "are banks safe?"; should I sell my equity mutual funds now?"; "will I have enough money to pay for food?"... So, I am gifting a course on Certified Family Guardian launched by Ajit's company, It costs only Rs. 499 if you hurry to sign up and it will educate and explain, in simple terms the concepts of savings, expenses, budgeting and investments. It has 8 modules and runs for a total of 5 hours. Woman will continue to play an important role in our society and they - and the children - must learn the basics of money. We spend too much time worrying about whether our children have done well at school and too little time teaching them the basics of life - and handling money is certainly an important aspect of life!

A will to live, a Will when I die.

So, those were my wishes.

Now comes the harder part of writing a Will.

I was asleep for all of 2020, but I note that the lives of many were cut short by COVID-19. Much as we may believe we are invincible, the honest truth is that life is fragile. A handful of viruses, each of which is 1/20th the width of one single strand of hair, can kill us.

As death can come to anyone at any time, it is important to start thinking of a will.

Have you thought of your will? I have. Write to for more information.

Suggested allocation in Quantum Mutual Funds (after keeping safe money aside)

Quantum Long Term Equity Fund, Quantum Equity Fund of Funds, Quantum ESG India Fund Quantum Gold Savings Fund Quantum Liquid Fund
Why you
should own
An investment for the future and an opportunity to profit from the long term economic growth in India A hedge against a global financial crisis and an "insurance" for your portfolio Cash in hand for any emergency uses but should get better returns than a savings account in a bank
Suggested allocation 80% in total in both; Maybe 15% in QLTEF, 10% in Q ESG and 75% in QEFOF 20% Keep aside money to meet your expenses for 12 months to 3 years
Disclaimer: Past performance may or may not be sustained in the future. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, fluctuation in NAV's and uncertainty of dividend distributions. Please read offer documents of the relevant schemes carefully before making any investments. Click here for the detailed risk factors and statutory information"
Disclaimer: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is Founder of Quantum Advisors Pvt. Ltd. which is the Sponsor of Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd – the Investment Manager of the Quantum Mutual Funds. Ajit is also the Founder of Quantum Information Services which owns Equitymaster and PersonalFN. The views mentioned herein are that of the author only and not of Quantum Advisors, Quantum AMC or Equitymaster. The information provided herein is compiled on the basis of publicly available information, internally developed data and other sources believed to be reliable by the author. The information is meant for general reading purpose only and is not meant to serve as a professional guide / investment advice for the readers. Readers are advised to seek independent professional advice and arrive at an informed investment decision before making any investment. Whilst no specific action has been suggested or offered based upon the information provided herein, due care has been taken to endeavour that the facts are correct, accurate and reasonable as on date. None of the Author, Quantum Advisors, Quantum AMC, Equitymaster, their Affiliates or Representative shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary losses or damages including lost profits arising in any way on account of any action taken basis the data / information / views provided in The Honest Truth.

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2 Responses to "Five Wishes and a Will"

Arnob Kumar Mondal

Feb 5, 2021

Ajit Dayal essentially wants to tom-tom his own Quantum funds. While there are some good nuggets in his articles, those same words of wisdom would have carried far more credibility if he did not exhort readers to invest in his Quantum funds after all that! In fact, at times I wonder whether he has a good word for anyone (apart from himself).

Like (1)


Jan 5, 2021

Nice articles by Ajit as always. I like it

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