Her training and practice as an anaesthetist must have made Dr Rupal Kulkarni risk-averse. That is probably why when she took a mid career break to take care of her home and investments, she decided to keep her portfolio as risk free as possible.
She balances her portfolio with 50 per cent equity allocation and rest in fixed income products. Within equities too, she sticks to fundamentally strong stocks with fixed price targets.
Dr Kulkarni completed her MBBS and MD in anaesthesia from KEM hospital and moved to London with her husband. There she earned a graduate degree from the Royal College of London. After having worked for five years in London, she moved back to India.
She decided to take on the mantle of homemaker couple of years ago with increasing family commitments. "That is when I realised that I should do something. I looked at investment studies as an option and enrolled into a three-month part time course on capital markets at the Bombay Stock Exchange."
Prior to her entry into the world of equities in 2004 her family portfolio was all in bank instruments, post office deposits and PPF. "We didn’t even pick up GOI bonds," says Dr Kulkarni. They did stray into the mutual fund scene in 2000 but the experience has been bitter.
"We just bought them and didn’t bother about it. We continue to hold some that have been the better of the lot and exited others," she adds.
They didn’t shift their savings held in fixed income securities into equities, but slowly built the equity portfolio with systematic additions. "Initially, we picked up stocks through advice from friends, especially a good friend I had met at the BSE course," explains Dr Kulkarni. Hers is a medium to long-term outlook with no trading interest on daily basis.
"I am not good at fundamental analysis, so I go by the readily available data. But I have enrolled for a course on technical analysis and try to keep track of reversal points to determine my entry and exit strategies."
Having gained from her initial short-term course on capital markets, Dr Kulkarni has gone back to BSE to do a weekend course on technical analysis.
Her portfolio boasts of stocks like Infosys, TCS, L&T etc. She had booked profits from her early portfolio, which earned returns in the range of 12 per cent.
"Those were the days when deposits gave us just 6 per cent and therefore I was happy making 10 to 12 per cent. The main idea was that I should safeguard my capital." Capital erosion is not something that many investors can afford, especially if one is a beginner.
Only partial profits she has booked and unrealised sums don’t make up the 12 per cent returns she talks about. But the major market crash in May has taught her the golden lesson that one should book profits from time to time and exit when a profit target has been achieved.
Any portfolio manager would tell how important it is to have an exit target in mind while entering a particular stock. But the longest ever bull-run we are witnessing at present would tempt most investors to defy this logic.
Her holding power carried her through the May fall and she has added stocks at downturns. "But we should also have funds available at the time of a fall," she says with a bit of advice.
"We shouldn’t put borrowed money in equities." A golden rule especially for all the small investors who see the high returns during a bull phase and ignore the risks.
Initial public offers too attract her attention, but Dr Kulkarni is very choosey about her picks. “It blocks our fund and there is no guarantee about allotment. So, I stick to IPOs that I understand,” is how she justifies her go-slow attitude towards IPOs.
Indeed, it can be a good idea to follow her path and not block too much of funds in any and every IPO. She has thought long-term and stability in starting two systematic investment plans for her two school going children.
Dr Kulkarni plays badminton for fitness and prefers light reading — PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie are her favourites. "I am enjoying my sojourn with the markets right now but I will be going back to my career," she says confidently, as she ends the conversation.