Follow Friday – First Page

Today’s follow Friday “blog” that I refer to is different. Surprisingly, it is a part of the equity research website – Value Research Online. Called First Page, this blog is written by the founder of Value Research online – Dhirendra Kumar.

Today in India, we pretty much romanticize the start-up culture. However, when I set out to learn more about Dhirendra and the genesis of Value research there was little I could find on the internet. Even the “About” page of Value Research yields precious little in this regard.

In 1990, just at the cusp of Indian liberalization in 1991, Dhirendra Kumar started an ambitious project which today is one of India’s best know equity research site. In some ways, Value Research Online is equivalent to the Morningstar of India. I first noticed the writings of Dhirendra Kumar through his weekly column in ET Wealth and realised that it gave me a different angle to a lot of things money, especially investing.

What I like about it:

Unlike other blogs where you feel like you almost know the blogger personally and are a spectator into his/her story, this blog is pretty minimal with the personal details. However, it makes up for it with a plethora of educating and thought-provoking articles in pretty simple language and a concise manner.

Considering the lack of other details, I thought it made sense for me to make up for it by talking about not one, but 2 of his articles in detail.

First big post:

One of my favourite posts from this blog is the one titled – Children, Money and Savings. The post deals with two distinct issues – one about products communicated as being specific for child-related financial goals and the other about the importance of personal finance education for children.

 

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Building dreams for your child is an aspiration a lot of financial product marketeers exploit

 

He first tackles the issue of products “specially” created for child-based financial plans head-on. You can see this pretty clearly when it comes to insurance where the child plan is widely promoted. There are also some mutual funds packaged in the idea that investing in them means saving for your child’s education and similar jazz.

As a marketer, one of the easy routes to communicate is to tell the consumer about the end benefit of using the product. Think of the Fair & Lovely ad where the resulting fair skin led to career progression or the Axe deodorant ad where a man spraying it translates to women running after him. How many of us really think that whatever the ads are portraying is literal and followed to the letter will provide the results advertised?

Similarly with money, it is about not buying into the hyperbole. While you can blame the companies advertising bad products in the name of the investors aspirations for their children, isn’t it a better idea to just educate yourselves to evaluate products better?

About the second aspect, while there is not much detailing, the article briefly touches upon the importance of teaching children the basics of how money works.

Second Big Post:

The second post which I read as an article in ET Wealth a few days back which really piqued my interest was titled Become a better investor. Here, taking from the work done by John Allen Paulos (an American mathematician), the author makes a compelling point as to how one of the key skills required to be a good investor is basic arithmetic skills which is surprisingly lacking in a lot of us.

 

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A core understanding of some basic mathematical skills is key to becoming a good investor

 

He gives two very interesting examples of which I will outline one here – If a number increases from 50 to 100, what is the incremental increase in percentage? Is it 50%, 100% or 200%? Most people got this wrong. (Check the answer at the bottom of the post :))

He also talks about another point made by Paulos (the mathematician mentioned above) that there is very little social stigma attached to poor number skills. Even in India, we use a slang of “grammar nazi” to connote someone who gets irritable and corrects everyone who dares to make a grammatical error. How come we don’t have any such term for numbers even though they could serve a much wider purpose for us in life?

In the end, Dhirendra urges the reader to brush up on basic number skills which could then lead to them becoming better investors as well.

2 More Favourite Posts:

  1. The Illusion of High Returns
  2. Cabbages and Perfumes

You can contact him through the blog, Twitter  or email

P.S. Answer to the question above: The increase was by 100%. In absolute terms, 50 increased by a 50 more. And what percentage is 50 on a base of 50? 100%. Did you get it right?

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