Gold as an investment

How Primeinvestor’s Vidya Bala manages her personal finances

Oct 1, 2022

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Vidya Bala, co-founder of Primeinvestor.in. Premium Vidya Bala, co-founder of Primeinvestor.in. 3 min read . Updated: 28 Jun 2022, 12:19 AM IST Satya Sontanam
  • Bala says mutual funds have become a large part of her portfolio, has a very small exposure to real estate

Vidya Bala, co-founder of Primeinvestor.in, says that she and her colleagues have a flair for direct stock investing but realize that mutual funds (MF) are a far better investment vehicle. 

Primeinvestor.in, a Sebi-registered research analyst platform, offers recommendations on diversified personal finance products including stocks, MFs, G-Secs, ETFs, deposits, bonds and insurance.  Launched a little over two years ago, the platform now has about 4,000 subscribers. Bala says the platform selects stocks using a combination of growth, valuation and quality metrics and then applies corporate governance parameters. “For MFs, a combination of metrics that include consistency, capture both upside and downside and risk-adjusted returns and risks are considered."

A chartered accountant by qualification, Bala had, prior to launching Primeinvestor.in, analysed funds and offered researched portfolios at FundsIndia, an online investment platform for MFs. Mint interacted with Bala on how she manages her personal investment portfolio and her views on various asset classes. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Do you invest directly in shares or through MFs?

All of us at Primeinvestor.in have a flair for stocks, although, we realise MFs are a far better vehicle. Over the recent years, MFs have become a larger part of my portfolio because of SIP (systematic investment plan). In the case of stock-picking, we try to time the market and invest lump sum. 

Do you follow the ‘buy and forget’ approach for stocks?

My colleagues and I think long-term but that doesn’t imply that we buy and forget. We don’t really believe in the coffee can investing style. Even the best of companies has a high growth phase and then a steady compounding phase and beyond that, they may not give enough push to the portfolio. 

When were you first introduced to the equity asset class?

One of my relatives gifted a stock to my parents on their wedding. Although my father never owned any other equity, he showed us how the stock grew and how it was a good dividend-paying stock, supplementing his income stream. That stock is Amrutanjan, a very conservative and humble South Indian-based company. My father is no more but my mom continues to hold it. 

Your longest-held MF/stock investment to date?

I started my MF investment with a tax-saver fund. I have been holding that for about 13-15 years now. The longest-held stock investment would be for 18 years.

What’s your take on real estate?

I have a very small exposure to real estate that I made very early on. Personally, I don’t think it was a good investment. By and large, in India, the rental yields are very low—anywhere between 1.5% and 3%. This doesn’t make  sense when there are other asset classes that can deliver well. 

What’s your view on other asset classes such as debt and gold?

I have realized the importance of debt post-2008. It really drove home the importance of asset allocation, when I saw my portfolio deep down in red after the 2008 crisis. Fortunately, now we are on the cusp of a growing story in the debt market. I think in the next decade, whether it is the bond market or the debt ETF space, there’ll be a lot of room for innovation.

When it comes to gold, it can be considered for diversification than to reduce volatility in a portfolio. 

How have your personal finances changed after becoming an entrepreneur?

Now that we take risks in our own business, nothing else seems riskier anymore. The job of an entrepreneur is very demanding, and so the time one spends on own portfolio comes down, as we tend to spend more time on the company’s growth. So, going passive has been something that I have consciously seen in my own portfolio. 

Do you have insurance?

After my home loan was done, I didn’t find the need to take any life insurance. I feel that my corpus is sufficient to take care of the absence of my income if anything happens to me. However, I have a floater medical policy with enough cover.

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