What would you expect if you came across a book called Winning the Wealth Game with the subtitle Cricket Strategies for Financial Freedom. You'd probably read it again carefully just to make sure that the word cricket was really there. Since it's cricket season and cricket is everywhere where it could be and also in a few places where it shouldn't be, you could be excused for thinking that here's a quickie that makes some bizarre forced connection between stock markets and cricket to try and turn a few heads its way. My reaction was something like that, when I first came across this book some weeks ago in what was actually the depth of the bear phase in cricket. Would someone really want to buy a book on wealth management because Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman recommend it?
However, when I finally picked up this book (written by Dr. Sanjiv Mehta, who, remarkably enough, is a medical doctor with a degree from AIIMS, no less) it was a pleasant surprise. Firstly, even minus the cricket, Winning the Wealth Game is an excellent book on personal finance. The book sticks precisely to the agenda that the title sets forth and stays focussed on long-term wealth generation and preservation. It introduces the idea of long-term wealth management very nicely and then goes on to talk in detail about various types of assets and how they can (or can't) contribute to long-term investment success.
Still, that's something that a lot of books and websites do. As someone who has been writing about investing for close to two decades, I know all too well that the challenge is in saying things in such a way that the reader doesn't fall asleep. The unfortunate fact about investment articles and books is not that they are dull and boring but that they are dull and boring to exactly those people who actually need to read them. Those who are deeply interested in money and investing will hungrily read and absorb anything they can find no matter how dull it is.
And that's where the cricket comes in. Mehta manages to find a cricketing parallel to almost everything he wants to explain about investments. And when I say cricketing parallel, I don't mean some general statements about pinch hitters being like momentum stocks. He narrates actual matches and innings that work as metaphors for investment.
Here's an example. When you are young you can invest more in the high-risk high-return assets like stocks. Even though these will have their ups and downs, if the risks are taken in a measured way, then investing in such assets in one's early years can build a strong asset base that can make the task much easier as one nears retirement. To illustrate this Mehta narrates the story of the India vs. Pakistan match in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. India had to score 273 for victory, something that wasn't expected to be easy against Wasim Akram, Waqar Yunus and Shoaib Akhtar.
However, Indian batsmen came out with all guns blazing and hit up 155 runs in the first 21 overs, leaving a mere 119 runs to get at just over four an over thereon. India took risks and lost wickets but taking the high-risk high-return route initially, paid off because it made the task relatively simpe towards the end. And that's just the kind of thing that would be nice when chasing a savings target for retirement.
Of course this works only if people are interested in cricket — but then that kind of reader is not in short supply, right?
The writer is CEO, Value Research India Pvt Ltd