The recent surge in Indian equity markets raises the obvious uneasy question, “What if market fall? Is there anything else I should be doing?”
Here’s a straightforward solution to this quandary:
Setting realistic expectations
When we examined the past 40+ years of market history, we discovered that Indian equity markets experienced 10-20% transitory dips virtually every year. It has also witnessed higher drops of 30-60% every 7-10 years. Here’s how you may set the correct expectations for your portfolio using history as a guide.
Expect 30-60% temporary corrections every 7-10 years, which is unusual. While major corrections are not common, history shows that a large decline every 7-10 years is reasonable. It is quite difficult to forecast ‘when’ these massive drops will occur and which 10-20 percent drop will lead to the big one. So, when reviewing your portfolio, add 50% of the value of your equity portfolio to your debt component. In the event of a sudden market drop, you should mentally ready to temporarily accept this estimated entire portfolio value. While these massive falls are not common, they must be expected. If both of the preceding assumptions appear to be too difficult for you to handle, your portfolio has far more equity exposure than your ability to bear unpleasant declines. You must reconsider your initial asset allocation (read as the split between equity and debt in your portfolio). The next stage is to ensure that the allocation is consistent with your ability to endure declines.
Current Action Plan
Because equity markets have recently had strong returns, there is a good chance that your equity exposure has exceeded your original planned asset allocation levels by more than 5%. If so, this is an excellent opportunity to rebalance and lower your equity exposure to your original targeted level. The next phase is to plan for various future situations.
Preparing for different scenarios
Scenario 1: Equity markets rise by 0-20% over the next year—this is the baseline forecast for equity markets because they are a growing asset class. No intervention is necessary because the returns are favourable and as expected. You can stick to your previous asset allocation strategy.
Scenario 2: Equity markets decrease by 0-20% during the next year—as witnessed in the past, brief declines of 0-20% are common in equity markets practically every year. As a result, this assumption was built into the initial asset allocation decision, and no action is necessary.
Scenario 3: Equity markets are in crisis and decrease by more than 20% over the next year—this normally implies a bear market, and while it may appear frightening at the time, these are frequently the best purchasing opportunities in retrospect. You can aim to rebalance back to your original asset allocation by selling debt and boosting equity at 10-percentage-point intervals.
Scenario 4: Equity markets surge and rise more than 20% in the next year—this is a significant increase and may result in equity exposure that exceeds the original planned allocation level. This can be an excellent moment to rebalance by returning equities to its original asset allocation and shifting it into debt.
Trying to anticipate the direction of the equities markets consistently over the near term is a challenging task, and no one has been successful in doing so throughout history. A better approach is to move away from prediction and toward preparation. Using history as a reference, the simple concept is to build the proper expectations on what would be regarded normal vs atypical. After that, create a pre-planned action plan by considering several probable future scenarios. This allows you to manage your portfolios through both good and bad market cycles without becoming unduly aggressive or panicky. Overall, this ensures that you can keep to your strategy and have a positive investment experience in the long run.