investment guide: Tata MF’s Meeta Shetty tells why consistent investment & financial independence are important for women

MUMBAI – In a special interview with ETMarkets on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Meeta Shetty, a fund manager at Tata Mutual Fund, spoke about how her financial investment journey began. She also dwelled on why women need to be financially independent alongside being able to take care of their monetary requirements.

Shetty has more than 16 years of industry experience and she manages assets worth more than Rs 12,400 crore at Tata MF across three strategies – Tata Digital India Fund, Tata India Pharma & Healthcare Fund, and Tata Focused Equity Fund. She has been overseeing Tata Digital India Fund and Tata India Pharma fund since November 2018.

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A CFA Chartered Holder from CFA Institute, US, Shetty joined Tata Asset Management in March 2017. She has worked with renowned brokerage firms such as Kotak Securities,

HDFC Securities, among others in her previous endeavors.

Edited excerpts:

Q. How did your financial investment journey begin?

Meeta Shetty: Despite being a part of the financial industry, I was making smaller investments in the equity markets and higher allocation towards different asset classes in the initial years.

But like most investors, when I realised the magic of the power of compounding and how it can lead to meaningful returns over time, the equity allocation kept increasing and accounts for a large share in terms of asset allocation today.

One key learning which I would like to share with investors is, start small so you can stay committed, as starting a SIP or any regular investment plan is not so difficult, but continuing it for a longer time can be challenging at times.

Hence, it’s better to start small initially but be consistent. This consistency will make a huge difference in the long run.

Secondly, with the information flow that we all have today via multiple social media platforms, many times also from our circle of people, it can get us anxious about our investment plans, but the key is to stick to a structured investment plan to achieve our financial goals.

Q. Given the need and emergence of financial independence, what will be your investment and savings advice to all the women on the eve of Women’s Day?

Meeta Shetty: Women have always been better at managing finances, even as homemakers. For decades, we have been managing household finances with an extremely conservative and logical approach.

As women’s workforce participation in the mainstream is on the rise, it is not surprising to see women breaking the stereotypes by getting into male-dominated industries, taking up the CXO level roles and thriving in this insanely competitive world.

All of this comes with an enormous amount of effort, struggles and a never-ending act of balancing between our responsibilities towards family and work.

But the brighter side is, the freedom to make choices that are not constrained by economic limitations.

While we are ensuring we are not dependent on our male counterparts for financial support, we still don’t see many women making investment decisions themselves. Though it’s gradually changing, we have a long way to go.

Women need to understand that while we are increasingly becoming independent for our financial requirements, our financial independence is also very important.

Asset allocation plays a vital role in our financial journey as our risk appetite and monetary needs keep changing with time. The right portfolio diversification will also help reduce volatility and the likelihood of achieving more stable returns over time.

The basic boxes to be ticked before one begins investing are (1) to get an understanding of the various financial products that are available, (2) to have a defined and realistic financial goal and lastly, and (3) to ensure financial discipline. It is better to start small and incrementally build on it, as it requires a lot of patience at times, especially when one is investing in equities.

The most important thing is that one must have a long-term investment horizon as the power of compounding can create a far more meaningful return vs the small quick gains.

Q. What’s your investment mantra and how well has it worked for you and your clients?

Meeta Shetty: The underlying philosophy is to follow GARP (growth at a reasonable price) wherein I try to capture both growth as well as the potential to re-rate.

I try to divide the portfolio into 2 key buckets, the compounder, and the alpha bucket. The ideal split is to have equal weight in both buckets and rebalance the portfolio when there is a skew due to stock performances or any changes in the view of our holdings.

The alpha bucket does the heavy weightlifting in terms of delivering returns and the compounder bucket gives stability to the portfolio in volatile times.

Q. What’s your overall outlook for equities in 2024? Are we likely to be among the top outperformers this year too?

Meeta Shetty: The Indian markets have been one of the best-performing markets globally given the robust economic outlook, infrastructure-led push by the government, and strong credit growth.

As the private capex starts picking up and consumption also inches higher, we expect the markets to continue to deliver returns over the medium to long term.

The FII holding in the Indian market is at a decadal low and as and when the flows turn, it should further help the momentum.

The Indian market valuations versus emerging markets are at a 90% premium currently, and is largely due to the single-digit valuation of the China market.

The long-term average for the premium is 65%, but given the robust macro indicators, we believe the Indian market can trade at higher than its long-term average.

We don’t rule out near consolidation or short blips of correction in the broader markets -term but remain very constructive from a medium to long-term basis.

(Disclaimer: Recommendations, suggestions, views and opinions given by the experts are their own. These do not represent the views of The Economic Times)

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