“It's funny how day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different” - C.S. Lewis
Twenty five years is a grand milestone. Married couples celebrate a Silver Jubilee when they cross the two and a half decades mark. Young people get tattoos on their 25th birthdays, or take a big vacation, and a 25th-year corporate anniversary calls for some nostalgic dwellings, and of course, speeches and celebrations. I think a big celebration is in order here too because I just turned 25! That's right, on the 29th of April 2022, I mark 25 years of my coming into reality. Reflecting on the years gone by, I can’t help but smile at how far I’ve come.
In the Sound of Music’s Do Re Mi, Julia Andrews famously sang that the beginning is a very good place to start, and I agree. The home you are born into forms the foundation of your life and I was lucky to be born into the DSP family as DSP Merill Lynch Equity Fund all those years ago in 1997. I grew up in the post-liberalisation era, which meant that the world was my oyster, and oh boy! It truly was.
I’ve seen India grow by leaps and bounds. From the days of struggling with shaky dial-up internet (remember that cacophonic dial-up sound? Well, IYKYK) to seeing India take the 4G world by storm. From rushing to Kirana stores for groceries to getting it home delivered in T-10 minutes. From holding onto the TV antenna in the wind so everyone else may watch Dada in his natural habitat, swinging his shirt after that cricket match, to getting access to global cinema on launch dates in our palms. Watching this transformation has been nothing short of magical.
But not every story can have an upward-only trajectory. To be fair, I too have had my share of ups and downs. I saw an early, exhilarating rise but then came across some fairly large potholes too. Crashes, crises, pandemics- I’ve seen it all. Like any other teenager wading through life, I made new friends and perhaps lost some on the way. DSP Merill Lynch Equity Fund also took on a new identity in DSP BlackRock Equity Fund as time went by, as I saw one parent go and another appear in 2008. Subsequently, I graduated, I gained more conviction in my roots and took on my new, current avatar as ‘DSP Flexi Cap Fund’. But now that I’m older and hopefully a bit wiser, what’s important is that I adapted and evolved from all my friendships and experiences. Having lived through different times and generations has been quite a journey for me.
I think as I grew, I also gained notable lessons, especially on how technology changes the world and the importance of risk frameworks despite shifting sands.
I couldn’t agree more with the above image, for many reasons. The people you bring along in your life have an outsized influence, especially the ones that believe in you when no one else does. When I was born, many investors gave me a chance; however less than 50 of them* stood by me to this date, through all the ups & downs. And to them, I have repaid my gratitude by growing their investment by a magnanimous 75+ times*- in return for their patience and resilience! And this is all because of another ‘company’- the quality & type of investments my manager makes. Of course, my family has also grown tremendously, with lakhs that I can call my own today.
Mental note to self: Maybe I should use this story to write a Twitter thread on 25 lessons I learnt on turning 25?
Meantime, here’s the link to our blog on 21 lessons learnt in 2021: Click here
But hey! Even if I don’t write the Twitter thread, I do think there is one important lesson here, hiding in plain sight. This incredible investment outcome was a result of unwavering discipline and commitment to long-term investing.
While in the short term, fears of interest rate hikes, geopolitical tensions, and more recently, a raging pandemic can spook the equity markets, the long-term growth is quite unmissable. Let me tell you a secret, my investment decisions are based on the long-term prospects of companies of all sizes across different sectors. Companies whose execution and strategy is sure to make a difference are then hand-picked through integrity and analytical rigor, with my fund managers giving due focus to the fundamentals of prudent risk management. Check out this thread below to understand their framework more.
The result of all this? I managed to generate an 18.9% annual returns (CAGR) since inception* and people have trusted me with their money to the tune of over Rs 7,500 crore*!- again despite the collapse of the tech bubble at the turn of the century, the 9/11 atrocities, financial crises of 2007-08, EU debt crisis, and more recently, a global pandemic!
You can read more on another recent blog written on me recently, “The value of flexing since 25 years”.
Further, with the rising affluence of an upwardly mobile population, increasing manufacturing competitiveness and supply chain resilience enabled by a supportive macro-economic environment and technological advancements that are seamlessly connecting business and people, India probably does have all the right ingredients for a blockbuster hit. And I am right here to hold your hands through it all.
Through long-term investing, you have the opportunity to beat inflation through consistent returns via following some smart investing principles. Not to mention, the opportunity to capitalize on the power of compounding - the eighth wonder of the world. That has also been my mantra for success, all these years.
Like I said earlier, it hasn’t always been rosy. Stumbling blocks in life are inevitable. What truly matters is that we get up, brush off our failures and march on ahead. Take my example, since I took birth, my NAV has fallen by more than 25%, on seven different occasions in the last 25 years. But that didn't stop me. And for those who were smart, these instances served as the right opportunity to increase their investment in something they understood, trusted, and found simple enough to flex with. Leading, over time, to celebrations and happy times!
Twenty-five is a unique, magical age. For many of us at this stage of life, it’s likely been a straightforward path up until this point. School led to college; college led to a first job in the real world or a post grad degree, for those who were the ‘achievers’! And then, all of a sudden, there's no obvious direction. Has it been the same for me? I would be lying if I said I am not slightly intimidated by the whirlwind of changes involving blockchain technology, quantum computing, AI and emerging tech-led business models. It can seem hard to keep up. But what gives me faith, is that I know that despite the uncertainties and changes coming up ahead, the basic principles of - simplicity, resilience, first principles, long-term commitment, the discipline of sticking to plan and the trust I have in the good people that manage me, will keep me and you - in good stead.
That’s enough food for thought, don’t you think? I should get back to watching the markets, learning from them, and focusing on what I do best: Investing For Good.
If you’ve been part of this journey till now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if you haven’t - I invite you to join me and my family of lakhs of investors at DSP. It’s never too late, and like I said this party is just getting started!
Here’s to the next 25 years!
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