Written by Sumeet Iyer
As part one of a Poocho study series, Ka-Ching!, aimed at understanding how Indian youth (18-30 yrs old) currently manage their money, I spoke to young Millennial and GenZ males in India. The interviews focused on understanding their money management practices, views on wealth creation in the short term and long term and who and what influenced their relationship with money. I spoke to Anurag*, a working professional from Durgapur about his money management habits. His views on money, making it and managing it, seemed to have been influenced at an early age by his father’s own views and habits.
- 26 years old
- Living alone
- Personal income: More than INR 20 lakhs
He took the leap with Zerodha
Anurag has been a Zerodha user since 2017, when he was still a student. What got him started, I asked. “It started with a competition, I got a reward of 20,000 rupees. So I opened a Zerodha account and started investing directly in the market. It did not give much returns, some 500 rupees.”
Anurag followed that up with an anecdote that sounded like it was straight out of a 90’s Bollywood movie. “There was a personal thing that happened in my life, I was rejected in an interview after the very last round, based on the top marks.” He was initially selected. “So, I somehow felt that I should buy stocks in the company and try to take over (the company)!” he said unassumingly, looking back.
What was his initial Zerodha experience like? “I started investing very gradually. When I sold it, it was almost a 5x multiplier. So my conviction in market growth has been very strong.” Whilst initial experiences go a long way in making or breaking people’s faith in the stock market, Anurag’s experience sounded like the motivation one would need to continue investing directly in the stock market for wealth creation.
His dad was his biggest influencer
So how did he develop his stock market acumen so early in life? “My father was the person who helped grow this interest in me,” pat came Anurag’s reply.
“My father used to turn on the TV, NDTV Profit or CNBC at around 9.00am. So, if I was home during summer vacations or other holidays, I would have a peek. I used to hear him talking to brokers. I followed the conversations, asked him what was happening and gradually my curiosity grew. I followed a lot of news around that time, I’d roll over the pages (of The Economic Times). Even though I might’ve not understood everything, I got a sense of why people buy and sell shares.”
So how does he make his decisions now? “I prefer to rely on my choices, my parents as well as friends – people who have been investing for a long time. My father has been investing in the market for almost 35 years.”
Whilst Anurag spoke at length about his father’s early influence on his journey into the stock market, I was more curious on what his early relationship with money was like. Were there conversations at home about money growing up? “I had conversations with my father. He used to say, “Never stop yourself from spending money, but make it a point to earn a much bigger amount. If you're spending x rupees, you must earn 5x rupees. Rather than saving, make investments that will earn you 5x rupees.” That's a philosophy I still follow. Maybe my bets are more aggressive, I prefer to earn 10x if I spent x.”
That sounded like an aggressive approach indeed. I asked Anurag why he considered Zerodha to be the ideal platform to hedge his big bets. “There's a feature called nudge. Whenever you're trying to do something which is not permitted or is risky, it sends you a nudge saying ‘this is going to happen.’” He was clearly a fan. “I find this platform very comprehensive and integrated. For the stock market, it has everything.”
Anurag currently works with a startup that also offers him ESOPs. “This role proved to be perfect, it was a mix of content, marketing plus something of tech. It was a high paying role.” How did that decision align with his financial goals? “For my MBA, I had to spend around 40 lakhs. My first target was to make it up within a year or so. This job would help me do that. I had an ambition that I would work in a startup, sell my stocks and get out so that I could pursue an entrepreneurial role after four years of working.”
Did he ever consider seemingly ‘safe’ options like insurance, PPF, etc.? “No, no, I'm not into safety, as such. I have the appetite for risk taking, for 3-4 years.” I probed further. “One is the amount of disposable income I have currently. That’s a big factor. Second, (earlier) I could invest sufficient time in tracking the market every day, every hour, every minute. With my current job, that’s not possible. So I prefer to invest in stocks that move a little slowly but steadily.”
Anurag had worked for two years prior to pursuing an MBA. “I do not have any financial loan because my entire (MBA) programme was funded from whatever I had earned and saved over months… but at the end of the programme, I had almost nothing. So my target was to build up a base of at least 13-14 lakhs savings at the end of one year.” His financial planning had set him on track to meet his goals.
But surely no journey into the world of bulls and bears is without its share of concerns and apprehensions. So, did doubts ever creep in, I asked him. “Initially, I did feel I might lose my money. Before opening my Zerodha account in 2017, I had often invested with my father in a joint demat account. Only when COVID hit, I started doubting myself, whether I’d made the correct decisions or not. But around August 2020, things started improving and I was pretty secure that I’ll get my money back.”
He’s still only 26, but sounded like he had his head firmly on his shoulders. “My financial habits haven't changed much. Yeah, I spend a bit more on accommodation but there hasn't been any major change. My net spending is almost the same proportion as earlier.”
Armed with his stock market chops and his high risk appetite, I wasn’t surprised that he had his financial future roadmapped out! “Over the next few years, I intend to build a folio of at least one crore to have a safe haven to make bigger bets. Over 10-15 years, l have a basic plan of starting something on my own, building an enterprise that is very scalable in the manufacturing and heavy engineering sector because that is where I come from. You cannot get funds from investors for heavy engineering so it has to be either your money or your friends’ money, nothing else.”
Sounded like a plan. He also admitted to me,“I never had any financial obligations to my family from the very beginning. My father has a fair pension and he has his savings. So I never had to think of having to bear expenses in the family. I can invest everything wherever I like.”
I appreciated him speaking candidly about his long term plans. I had one last question for him as we wrapped up. Did he feel a weight on his young shoulders? “I'm always concerned about money that I would like to make. It is anticipation on the positive side, not on the negative side.”
Crystal clear! These are indeed the stuff dreams are made of.
*Name changed to maintain privacy of the participant.