Out of sheer force of habit, Prema Parikh switches to the business news channels at 10 am sharp. Even at a time when almost every stock ticker is heading south, she cannot tear herself away from the screen. It’s a ritual for her. Her broker does the trading, but Parikh likes to be in the know.
But for the scores of women who trade in shares from the confines of their homes, the business is almost at a standstill. They, like so many other investors, are waiting for the market to recover from the freefall it has seemingly gone into. They are waiting for signs of stability before clicking again on the buy or the sell button.
“The ladies have been taking a holiday from trading for the last one week,” says CJ George, founder and chief executive of Geojit Financial Services, a brokerage firm that has trained as many as 5,000 women in the nuances of financial investment in the past two-and-a-half years.
When he says that women tend to be more patient, do not take too much risk, and are prone to take a long-term view on the market, George speaks from experience. These traits should stand them in good stead in these times of global meltdown that’s affecting Indian bourses as well.
Says Ashok Jainani, head of research and market strategy at the brokerage Khandwala Securities, “The flight of foreign institutional investors, the depleting profit margins of Indian companies, and the impending general elections have created this cocktail of low price-earning ratios (the valuation of a company’s stock apropos its earnings).”
Jainani has a word of advice, for men or women, “Investors need to play with utmost discipline. If you do not understand the market, follow a good guide, a mutual fund, or a portfolio manager. Don’t be greedy, ignore pep talks, and stick to fundamentally sound companies.” Well, that’s easier said that done.
As ever, there is an upside to this downside too. “This is the right time to buy into good Indian companies cheap, and reap the benefit when the market recovers,” says George. For the moment, all investors — women as well as men — are keeping their fingers crossed.