Investing lessons from the election-led market volatility

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The 2024 Lok Sabha election concluded with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance securing a majority. However, the disparity between exit polls and the actual results led to a sharp market surprise. As investors navigate the resulting volatility, it’s crucial to adopt strategies grounded in behavioural finance. Here’s how to maintain a resilient and growth-oriented investment approach.

Antifragility

Drawing from Nassim Taleb’s concept of antifragility, thriving amidst disorder and uncertainty is possible. Here’s how to apply this to financial planning.

• Volatility: Invest in diversified equities and use the barbell strategy, balancing low-risk assets like government bonds with high-reward opportunities. With the right mindset, volatility can be beneficial.

• Optionality: Maintain flexibility with various investment options and keep cash reserves to capitalize on market downturns. This approach allows you to seize opportunities when they arise.

Asset allocation

A well-structured asset allocation is crucial. Diversify across asset classes, sectors and geographies to spread risk and enhance stability. Regularly rebalance your portfolio to maintain desired asset allocation and risk levels. This foundational approach helps mitigate the impact of market volatility and political events, ensuring that no single event or market condition can significantly derail your long-term plans.

Behavioural biases

Behavioural biases often influence investor reactions, especially during elections. Understanding and mitigating these biases is key to making sound investment decisions.

• Confirmation bias: Investors might favour information that supports their political preferences, leading to skewed investment decisions. Counter this by considering diverse perspectives and focusing on data-driven analysis. Remember, markets are influenced by a multitude of factors, not just political outcomes.

• Loss aversion: The fear of losing money often outweighs the joy of gains, causing irrational holding or selling of assets. During elections, this bias can lead to panic-selling or holding onto depreciating assets. Stay focused on long-term goals and avoid emotional decisions.

Overconfidence bias: Political convictions can lead investors to overestimate their knowledge and make risky bets based on election outcomes. Continuous learning and humility are essential to avoiding overconfidence. Acknowledge the limits of your knowledge and rely on well-rounded advice.

Rational decisions

Stay aware of confirmation and overconfidence biases. Educate yourself continuously about market dynamics. Rational thinking helps navigate the noise of political rhetoric.

• Think long term: Focus on long-term goals rather than short-term market fluctuations. Harness the power of compounding by staying invested over extended periods. This helps in building substantial wealth over time.

• Diversification: Spread risk across different asset classes and regularly rebalance your portfolio. This approach reduces exposure to any single risk.

• Discipline and patience: Stick to your investment plan, avoiding impulsive reactions to market movements. Align your investments with specific financial goals, ensuring that every decision serves a purpose

• Education and guidance: Stay informed about market trends and work with a financial advisor for professional guidance. An advisor can provide objective insights and keep you on track during turbulent times.

Conclusion

Navigating market volatility requires a strategic approach that integrates antifragility, clear thinking and disciplined financial planning. By embracing volatility, maintaining a diversified portfolio, focusing on long-term goals and making rational decisions, investors can ensure financial stability and growth. Successful investing lies in staying calm, informed and committed to long-term aspirations, regardless of electoral outcomes. With these insights, investors can confidently navigate the electoral season’s market fluctuations, keeping their financial goals firmly in sight.

By understanding and mitigating behavioural biases, embracing sound investment principles and maintaining a disciplined approach, you can turn market volatility from a source of anxiety into an opportunity for growth. Remember, elections come and go, but a well-thought-out investment strategy endures. Stay the course, and let your long-term vision guide you through the noise.

Tarun Birani is founder and chief executive officer of TBNG Capital Advisors.