Personal Finance

‘Managing wealth is managing yourself’, says Ashish Shanker of MOPWM

Kumar Shankar Roy BL Research Bureau | Updated on May 30, 2021

The veteran wealth manager shares a ring-side view of his personal finance philosophies

A veteran in financial services industry, Ashish Shanker as managing director and chief executive of Motilal Oswal Private Wealth Management (MOPWM) leads a team that advises top corporates/institutions and over 3,000 HNI families. He has played a key role in building the investment, research and advisory platform and creating the proprietary ‘4C fund manager’ framework at the firm. As a captain of ship that advises client assets worth ₹25,000 crore, here is a sneak-peek of how the much sought-after wealth manager tends to his own personal finances.

What does money mean to you?

Money is a means to fulfill needs and desires for self, family and parents. It is a means to an end. You should have enough of it but then the greed for it also can end up destroying us.

What are your top financial goals as an individual?

For any parent, the kid comes first. Providing for my kid is at the top of my mind, so that he has a decent education and he has a decent lifestyle. Then, of course, providing for a high-quality retirement where I don't have to compromise on lifestyle once I retire. I'm a little bit of a gourmet connoisseur, I like to have my malt as well. There are intermittent goals, such as travel and, at some point, may be housing. I do own a house, but it's in my hometown (Pune). At some point, if price and wallet permit, buying a house in a Mumbai suburb of my choice is also a goal.

What does your portfolio look like?

Close to 85-90% of my money is invested in equities. All my incremental money also goes in equities. I do not count my PF (provident fund) in this.

My first job was as an equity analyst with a local brokerage firm. Even before that, I fell in love with equities in probably 12th standard. I used to interact with people in my family who were related to stock markets. I've been in private wealth firms now for 16 years. Hence, from day one, it's been equities. Equity investments for me are a combination of stocks and mutual funds. I also hold a lot of my portfolio in ESOPs.

What was your most successful investment? What are the mistakes you’ve made?

All the investments that I made in the late 90s, and mind you I have not sold a single share, have been the most successful in terms of IRR (internal rate of return ). I bought Nestle, ITC etc., but on a very small capital.

I also do remember that I bought a lot of the dot-com stocks which went to zero. My experience has shown that if you buy 20-30 stocks and hold them, the better quality companies more than make up for the duds. So, the lesson I've learned is that in equities, patience and longevity beats everything else. It is 90 per cent temperament and 10 per cent skill.

How much emergency funds do you have and where do you keep it?

I've always had this principle that you should have at least six months of your expenses as emergency funds. You may call it very inefficient to keep that amount of money idle, but I always have that amount lying in my savings account. Now, there are even savings banks accounts, which give you 6-7 per cent. I tell people that maybe you should have one year’s worth money but six months is good enough for me.

What kind of amount would you require for your retirement?

Ten years back, if you'd asked me, I could have put a number of ₹5 crore. But today, that number doesn't excite me because my lifestyle has gone up. I have figured it's a moving target. Today, the target I am looking at is 200-250 times my monthly expenses.

As a private wealth veteran, what is the most important message to people on managing wealth?

As philosophical as it may sound, managing wealth, I believe, is predominantly about managing yourself. If you know your own temperament, you will be a better investor. Also, keeping it simple, and thinking long term is the crux of what I've learned in 24 odd years of my career. Ultimately, you are your biggest cash-generating machine. So, invest in yourself as in your career or your training, picking up skills.

Published on May 30, 2021

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