Shouldn’t have put initial savings in real estate: Sandeep Tandon

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Sandeep Tandon, 54, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Quant Mutual Fund, invests 100% of his equity investments in Quant MF schemes, which have been among the top-performing funds in various categories. As a result, Tandon has also seen strong returns on his investment portfolio: 55% over the past year.

Tandon says 30% of his asset allocation is in real estate, having bought multiple houses in the early stages of his career. In an interaction with Mint for the Guru Portfolio series, Sandeep Tandon says his wealth creation could have been much larger had he invested the same money in equity markets. In this series, leaders in the financial services industry, share how they manage their own money.

Asset mix

About 60% of his money is allocated towards equities, 30% in real estate and 10% is in liquid funds.

The real estate allocation is not for investing, but for personal consumption. “I own and live in one of these properties. The other two are family-owned. All these are in Mumbai only,” he says. Tandon lives in Prabhadevi, an upscale locality in Mumbai, which is also close to his office.

The entire equity investments of Tandon are through Quant MF’s schemes. Within the equity funds, his current allocation is 50% in large-caps, 23% in mid-caps and 27% in small-caps.

Tandon also owns nearly 100% of his company—Quant Money Managers and he is also the founder of the Quant group.

Investment style

Tandon believes in dynamic style of investing, which is driven heavily by data analytics models used at Quant MF. “Data points are continuously changing. That phase when India was in early stages of emerging markets or infancy stages is now over. India is also a reasonably mature market. And so is the case with the global market. So, in a dynamic world, the money management style cannot be static. Dynamic style of money management has led to superior risk-adjusted returns for us, which was also the case last year,” says Tandon.

Tandon says, while investors coming into equity funds must remain long term-oriented, as a fund manager he believes in being extremely agile with his investment calls in-line with his global macros and data indicators. He adds that his data model aims to mitigate medium- and short-term risks. “When you are able to do this, you not only protect your downside, but also generate alpha out of it,” he says.

Rebalancing

Tandon rebalances his mutual fund holdings annually. He says he usually does this exercise at the time of tax-filing in March. He reviews his company ownership and real estate holdings once in five years, not with the aim of churning these investments but to take stock of his asset allocation. He has not tinkered much with his asset allocation over the past year and it has remained broadly in the same proportion across the three asset-classes.

Learnings

Tandon says had he invested in equities instead of real estate, he could have generated larger wealth creation. “There used to be that mindset that, as soon as you get your first savings, you should start building a house. In those early days, I took loan to purchase my first house. Then as a family, we bought a couple of more houses. However, if I had used those funds to invest in equities, the wealth created would have been much larger,” he says.

Contingency fund

Tandon says he doesn’t keep a contingency fund separately, as in any case he maintains 10% of his allocation in liquid funds.

He says he doesn’t believe that one needs to be 100% invested in markets all the time. “In any case, I have a very large holding in equities. The liquid fund allocation gives me a huge psychological comfort,” Tandon says.

Retirement corpus

Tandon says he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon. “I don’t like to think of retirement as it has negative connotations for me. I believe in working till the last day of life. When you think like that, your involvement will be on the higher side, your reflexes will be on the higher side. The mental agility remains intact,” he says.

He has not planned any separate retirement corpus. All his investments can be easily liquidated as and when he requires them.

Loans

Tandon doesn’t like the idea of personal loans. He says he doesn’t like the burden of paying interest. My last loan was in 1998 to buy a house. It was a 5 lakh loan.

Advice for investors

Tandon says investors should assess their risk-appetite. “They should come into equity markets, only when they know their investment horizon. A lot of people say I come for the long-term, but within six months, if the market doesn’t perform or give negative returns, they give up. So, their investment horizon was never for the long-term to begin with,” he says.