Soumya Rajan, founder, Water field Advisors, is part of a much envied minority—those who got allotment for the IPOs of dream stocks like HDFC Bank ICICI Bank and TCS. Yet Rajan, Who was a banker before moving into wealth management, still remembers the days when she had to fill up physical application forms for IPOs. The amounts invested in these shares were small, but they have been for her a beautiful reminder of the power of compounding.

Rajan, however, has seen her share of bad investments as well. She bought LIC policies in her early working years and—like many other insurance policy holders—also forfeited them when she decided to stop paying the premiums. In her very early days of equity investing, she also bought penny stocks on the advice of friends, and those have remained just that over the years. Her personal portfolio’s journey is similar to what most of us have seen—some hits, some mis-steps but no undue aggression or risk taking. Much of this is likely to reflect in her discussions with clients. Today. Rajan heads one of India’s largest wealth management firms —one that is in the throes of a rapid expansion. “The pandemic was good for us, she explains, “People had more money to invest and our assets grew.”Water field Advisors, her firm, is named after a road in Sandra where Rajan started her career in finance. It counts 200 clients and 4.3 billion in assets compared to $1.6 billion about five years ago. Its headcount has surged from 30 to 150 in just 2 years.

Rajan has a classic balanced portfolio: 50% in equity. 25% in debt, 5% in gold and 20% in alternative funds. Most of her equity portfolio is in large cap stocks (55% of equity portfolio) and she is looking to increase this further.

“Quality names have underperformed there is an opportunity to accumulate quality large cap equities. We have seen relentless FII selling over the past few months in quality blue-chip names. When the tide starts to turn. These will be the first to rebound,” she told Mint.

As much as 25% other equity portfolio is in passive strategies or strategies that have some passive element.

On the debt side. Rajan stays with target maturity funds and roll-down strategies. These types of schemes, if matched with your goals or time horizon, can give a highly predictable return. About 10% of her portfolio is in international funds and stocks.

“International funds and stocks provide geographic diversification and with the stronger dollar index. There is potential to improve the returns further over the next 2-3years.” she added.

Rajan dipped her toes into gold as an investment in March 2020 and has held on ever since seeing it as a hedge against inflation.

“The Alternatives exposure is primarily to PE and VC Funds with exposures to Waterfield’s Fund of Funds and women-founded AIFs,” said Rajan.

Despite her relative conservatism, there are parts of Rajan’s portfolio and investment style that flow from being a wealth manager and a large business owner. Those looking to emulate it must take this into account.

Alternative assets in particular have minimum ticket sizes of around 11 crore and are only available to high networth investors. It is her journey that is more instructive—with both successes and missteps such as penny stocks and LIC policies along the way.

Her current portfolio can be scanned up as follows: ‘Diversified and tilted towards blue chip companies in equity. Low cost target maturity funds in debt.’


                                                                                                                                                Neil Borate, Mint Publication                                                                                                                     

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