Start saving young!

SRIVIDHYA SIVAKUMAR | Updated on March 12, 2011

Mr T.R. Ramachandran, CEO and MD of Aviva Life Insurance India.

If Rome wasn't built in a day, the coveted nest-egg can't be either. One should start young and get the right balance between saving and spending feels Mr T.R. Ramachandran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Aviva Life Insurance India. For a person who's spent a good part of his professional life as a banker and an insurer, Mr Ramachandran has covered his personal risks and investments well.

Here are some excerpts from the interview.

What are your top financial goals?

My top financial goals are to first build a corpus to fund as well as secure my children's higher education, and then to build another for retirement to ensure that I maintain my current standard of living.

How has your idea about money changed with time?

Like most others, the value and notion of money changes dramatically post-marriage and with the accompanying responsibilities.

Also, for me, money for money's sake has become relatively less important as compared to what money denotes - security, comfort, value.

Tell us about your most successful investment... The one which made the most money for you.

Actually, two come to mind. One was in the tech-sector stocks that I had invested in the mid 1990's, and the second was the residential real estate investments I made in Bangalore and Chennai.

One mistake on investing or saving that you regret.

That I was quite averse to equities as an asset class in my early years!

What has been your most important learning so far?

Start young, get the balance right between savings and spending, and the value and need to diversify investments across asset classes.

Tell us about (if any) books or investment gurus that inspired you to think out of the box?

‘Fooled by Randomness' by Nicolas Taleb and ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad' by Rober Kiyosaki. These two books inspired me a lot.

How has your asset allocation changed over the years? How frequently do you review it?

Over the past 2-3 years, I have made a conscious attempt to divide investible corpus among fixed income and equity. In that too, while longer-term goals like retirement corpus have a higher equity weightage, nearer-term ones have a bias towards debt.

How do you plan your investments to beat inflation?

You need to keep in mind that the returns over long term are more than current plus projected inflation rate for your investments. Further investment in asset classes that are income generating - like equity, real estate are the key. That said, some apportionment to commodities like Gold which has proven to be a sound inflation hedge too is a must.

Have you ever invested in foreign equities? Do you think there is merit in investing overseas now?

Not yet, though post the recent regulatory dispensation allowing remittance abroad, it does make sense to diversify across emerging and developed markets.

What's your message on saving and investing to young people just starting out on their career?

Start investing when you're young! You should start with a retirement plan if you don't have dependents. This will ensure that you create a corpus over a period of 25-30 years, which will ensure that you maintain your standard of living post-retirement. If you have dependents, you should invest in a term plan immediately to cover your family against loss of income in case something unfortunate happens to you.

In addition, invest in the equities while starting early but don't forget to gradually rebalance portfolio towards debt and fixed income with the passage of time.

Published on March 12, 2011

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