Alexander’s Victory at Gaugamela: A Lesson for Investors

In the annals of history, the name Alexander the Great shines brightly as a testament to extraordinary leadership and military prowess.  

Alexander III of Macedon, born in 356 BC, was a renowned military leader and ruler who reigned from 336 to 323 BC. He was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and inherited the throne at the age of 20 after his father's assassination. His ambition was to create a vast empire that extended much beyond the borders of Greece and to this end, he embarked on an unprecedented military campaign, known as the Macedonian conquests or the Wars of Alexander the Great, which aimed to conquer and unite the known world under his rule. With a highly disciplined and well-trained army, Alexander, by the age of 32 achieved remarkable success, expanding his empire across Asia, Africa, and Europe

His grand vision was to create a universal empire that transcended cultural and civilizational boundaries, under his benevolent rule. Throughout his remarkable journey, Alexander displayed unwavering passion, unyielding determination, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, even incorporating local customs and religions into his administration. His life serves as an inspiration, imparting invaluable lessons on courage, charisma, and strategic brilliance. Even today, Alexander's life continues to captivate and provide profound insights into the triumph of wisdom over brute force.

It was during a momentous period in history that Alexander faced his most formidable adversary, Darius III, the king of Persia. Darius III, also known as Darius Codomannus, held the title of the last king of the Achaemenid Empire from 336 to 330 BC. The encounter between Alexander and Darius III was a pivotal clash that would shape the destinies of both empires. And it also serves as a good segway into today’s investing lesson. But before that, here’s some context.

The Epic Clash: Alexander vs. Darius III

For three arduous years, Alexander had been relentlessly pursuing Darius, ever since his invasion of Persia in 334 BC. Despite being defeated twice before, at the battles of Granicus and Issus, Darius had managed to elude capture on both occasions. However, Alexander was resolute in his determination to bring an end to Darius' reign once and for all. With unwavering purpose, he led his forces towards Babylon, where Darius had assembled a formidable army to confront him.

In the year 331 BC, Alexander arrived at Gaugamela, a plain near the city of Arbela. It was there that he faced Darius' vast army, which outnumbered his own troops massively- by at least two to one. Darius had meticulously chosen the battleground, exploiting its advantageous features that posed challenges to Alexander's cavalry. Furthermore, he had cunningly devised various traps and deployed strategic weapons such as chariots armed with scythes, elephants, and skilled archers to counter Alexander's tactics. Yet, Alexander, ever resourceful and quick-witted, understood that he needed to make the most of what he had, and utilize his smaller army to its fullest- eventually coming up with a brilliant strategy.

In a moment of inspiration, Alexander cleverly maneuvered his army, subtly shifting it to the right of the battlefield, creating the impression that he intended to evade Darius' formidable left flank, which was heavily armed and fortified. This ploy incited Darius to reposition a lot of his troops, thus inadvertently opening a gap in the centre of his own defensive line. Seizing this opportune moment, Alexander swiftly commanded his cavalry to charge directly towards the vulnerable gap, shattering Darius' defenses and reaching his position. The Persian king, gripped by panic, fled the battlefield, with Alexander in relentless pursuit. In the wake of Darius' flight, the Persian army fell into disarray.

Applying Alexander's Tactics to Financial Success

Alexander's remarkable victory at Gaugamela may seem like the result of impulsive actions, but in fact, it was a testament to his patience, precision, and calculated decision-making. He astutely waited for the opportune moment to strike, and then orchestrated the movement of his troops with meticulous care, creating a breach in Darius' defenses and seizing the decisive moment. 

On the face of it, this may seem like a parallel to timing the market at the perfect moment. And if you’ve been able to do this regularly as a matter of practice or are a full-time professional investor earning all your income from the craft, good on you! However, most normal investors cannot do this all the time. Often, they get things wrong especially when trying to DIY in the stock market. So, rather than attempting to time the market or make impulsive decisions, follow the pre-timing part of Alexander’s strategy. Learn & develop skills, exercise patience, conduct thorough research, analyse market trends, and take action on a well-put together strategic plan to get to your goals.

Furthermore, Alexander's strategy of figuring out how to exploit Darius' weaknesses instead of engaging in direct confrontation underscores the importance of adaptability and risk management in investing. Sure, you can take on the stock market and try to find the perfect stocks at the perfect time, but true wisdom lies in realizing this won’t work all the time, if ever. Hence simple strategies like long term SIPs (especially with top ups) or STPs can help you counter and exploit the weakness of the market- unpredictability, fluctuations, short-term despair/ euphoria and create wealth generation opportunities. 

Yes, its not easy to find out how to identify the scheme in which to start a SIP or STP from, or to build a plan that allocates assets smartly. Our tool ‘Sarthi’ can be your guide, and help you personally identify your risk-taking style to then suggest what’s right for you - give it a shot here. Or if you want a more custom conversation on investing strategies, click below.

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Before we close. What happened to Darius?

After Darius fled the battlefield in fear, Alexander pursued him relentlessly, determined to capture or kill the Persian king. Darius continued to evade Alexander's pursuit, seeking sanctuary where he could, moving from one place to another, constantly on the run, but unable to find a safe haven. Sadly, he was eventually betrayed by one of his own satraps, Bessus, who sought to claim the throne for himself.

Can you be Alexander?

Well, nothing stops you. Except the right skills, the perfect timing, the best market opportunities, the appropriate asset allocation, and the most rational behaviour ever. To put it simply, a lot needs to work out for you to succeed at investing all the time. So, for most people with other full-time jobs, there’s a better way- a 3 letter acronym, MFD. A good MF Distributor can be your partner, your guide, your investing navigator and help to not just identify new opportunities but also constantly reassess and remap your investment approach when the ever-evolving market landscape demands it.

Just as Alexander left a lasting impact on history, practicing what one picks up from this lesson in the realm of investing can pave the way for a prosperous financial journey. So, let Alexander's victory be a guiding light as you navigate the exciting world of investments, seeking to conquer your own financial goals with wisdom, courage, and strategic foresight.



In this material DSP Asset Managers Pvt. Ltd. (the AMC) has used information that is publicly available, including information developed in-house. Information gathered and used in this material is believed to be from reliable sources. The AMC however does not warrant the accuracy, reasonableness and / or completeness of any information. The above data/ statistics are given only for illustration purpose. The recipient(s) before acting on any information herein should make his/ their own investigation and seek appropriate professional advice. This is a generic update; it shall not constitute any offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy units of any of the Schemes of the DSP Mutual Fund. The data/ statistics are given to explain general market trends in the securities market and should not be construed as any research report/ recommendation. We have included statements/ opinions/ recommendations in this document which contain words or phrases such as “will”, “expect”, “should”, “believe” and similar expressions or variations of such expressions that are “forward looking statements”. Actual results may differ materially from those suggested by the forward looking statements due to risks or uncertainties associated with our expectations with respect to, but not limited to, exposure to market risks, general economic and political conditions in India and other countries globally, which have an impact on our services and/ or investments, the monetary and interest policies of India, inflation, deflation, unanticipated turbulence in interest rates, foreign exchange rates, equity prices or other rates or prices etc. 

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