Emphasis on English and mathematics coupled with an advice to stay away from stock markets – that’s the mantra whispered in the ears of most Bengalis when they are at school. Down the generations this has earned Bengalis quite a notoriety for being shy investors.
But smart investor 32-year-old Arun Mukherjee followed quite a different route. The efforts of his parents to teach him English by making newspaper reading a part of the daily regimen ironically ended up introducing him to the world of stock markets, something that he was advised against.
“My dad was no different as he wanted his elder son to be fluent in English. He would ask me to read a business newspaper he would keep. While going through the newspaper one day, I stopped at some excel sheet-like stuff. I was told those were stock quotes,” recalls Mukherjee.
Senior Mukherjee advised him to avoid the space as 90% of stock market investors would lose their money.
“I was a rebel and it turned me on. The motivation was to win in a space where a majority loses big time,” says Mukherjee with a twinkle.
His first investment happened to be in a company called Wellwin Industry where in matter of few days, he registered his first income.
Preparing at 16
That was 16 years ago. When his friends were busy flirting and building castles in the air, Mukherjee was busy in turning pages of business dailies and reading about stocks to understand the market works.
This hard work helped him to spot stocks such as Caplin Point, Avanti Feeds, Symphony, Cera Sanitaryware, Minda Industries and Hester Bio, among others. Mukherjee told Money9 that he made his first crore before turning 25.
At present, he is an active investor in listed companies as well as start-ups. Mukherjee also conducts stock market awareness programme pan India and overseas.
Mukherjee sets great store by what he gets to hear during informal conversation.
“I travel throughout the world and keep meeting people with wisdom. Through discussions with them, I add whatever seems to be a perfect fit to my research arsenal. However, I must say scuttlebutt approach works wonders for me,” said Mukherjee. However, he has an element about different managements when they speak of their own companies.
Management too bullish
“They would be outrageously bullish and feed you with rosy tales,” he quips.
He would rather trust dealers, distributors, suppliers, ex-employees, clients and vendors for unbiased information on any company.
Learning and obstacles
Mukherjee always wanted to do something on his own. He is now widely followed by the investing community. He has over 80,000 followers on Twitter.
“Being from a Bengali family, where share market is a taboo, I had to face a lot of scepticism from everyone. Now those who discouraged me initially seek my advice on their portfolio,” he said.
Age is in Mukherjee’s favour. He is not afraid of taking risks.
“I am always in quest of amazing entrepreneurs backed by a good team and vision. If I can spot it, it clinches the deal. I do deal in lot of start-ups and unlisted companies. The sizes are small and my stakes are way higher in comparison to listed entities,” Mukherjee said.
He thinks everybody pays tuition fees to the markets – losses, he means – and that’s what helps one. “You learn from your earlier mistakes and if you don’t repeat them, you eventually get better. I am liberated as of now and whatever I needed, stocks always had my back,” he said.
An intelligent investor always makes way for appreciating asset in place of a depreciating one.
No car yet
“That’s why you I don’t own a car. I am always fond of asset-light business models, which I do follow in my real life. A house is more of a necessity. I do have a couple of them. The new one gives me the extra space for relaxing and ding the things that I love most. I am not contradicting my intention of being asset light,” he said.
Advice to debutants
In FY21, equity including mutual fund was at a single digit in proportion to the total asset of Indian households. In developed economies it is in the high double digit. Mukherjee spots this as a massive untapped area.
“Our generation, especially after demonetisation won’t be inclined to put money in fixed deposits. Owning part of a lucrative business at the click of a mouse would be the way to go. The signs are already visible,” he said.
Mukherjee wonders why must one retire at 60 and not at 40? He believes that equities are the way to retire rich and be liberated from work pretty early.
Eat, sleep, drink equity
“Long term capital gains rates are just 10%. A 26% compounding swells your wealth by 10 times in 10 years which also beats inflation by a huge margin. If you can invest properly even making 1000x in 30 years is no big deal. No other asset classes in the world can generate that amount of wealth creation. You do monthly stock SIP or plough back the dividends, all this takes your portfolio to such a level which you can even fathom,” he said.
It’s those lessons in mathematics in childhood speaking, you see.
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