I made some money in the markets last week. I bought the Nifty (September futures) at around 5190 on the 28th of August and cashed out at 5660 on the 6th of September. A fair trade I think, considering that so far in my life I’ve been a fairly poor investor (despite having worked as a quant at an investment bank and a hedge fund). This trade, however, raised more questions than answers.
Firstly, the markets have gone up significantly after I sold out. I exited at 5660. The Nifty closed today at well over 5900. Last couple of days I’ve been wondering if I panicked and cashed out too early. I must admit that when I entered I had a target price of 6000. However, given the rather choppy nature of the Indian markets, I decided that the 10% appreciation in 10 days was enough and cashed out. To that extent, I didn’t stay honest to the strategy I entered the trade in.
However, the reason I decided to cash out when I did was that I thought the market was going to top out and a steep fall was imminent. From that perspective, it made sense to cash out when I did. Yes, I might have made more money had I hung on for another two trading days, but there was no guarantee that the markets would continue to rise. In that sense I was happy pulling out.
More importantly when I cashed out, I realized that I’m still an amateur at investing. When you are a professional investor, you look at investment vehicles in terms of opportunity cost. If you wanted to pull out of the Nifty, you would do so only if you could put your money in another investment which would give you superior returns to what the Nifty would in the subsequent time period (technically hard currency is also an investment!), after accounting for the transaction cost of switching. As far as I was concerned here, though, I still invest basically for kicks (don’t invest huge amounts). So it’s basically about spotting a potential boom, riding it and then moving out. Light touch investing.
There are times when I want to get back to the world of investment (as a professional). I have some unique ideas for fund management. Perhaps I should use my next break in billable work to flesh that out. For now, check out my only other post on investing – on why you should not track your portfolio too closely.