In this episode of Meet an Investor, we will meet Dr Ryan DSouza.

He is an ophthalmologist or an eye surgeon who practices at Mumbai’s Lilavati hospital. He also has a daycare hospital of his own.

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Let’s see what he has to say about investing:

Full transcript: Dr Ryan DSouza

Tell us something about yourself.

So my name is Ryan Dsouza and I am a medical professional and I have been practicing I am an ophthalmologist. I have been practicing for the last 20 years in Mumbai. I have my own daycare hospital and I am attached to Lilavati hospital as an eye specialist as an eye surgeon and like I said I am a medical professional and not really an expert on finance or investing but I have been… I do a lot of reading and self-study so I have been investing for a while now.

When did you start investing?

So I started investing in markets in the year about 2002 or 2003 and prior to that like most medical professionals, I was relatively inexperienced with finance. I just kept my money in fixed deposits, bank savings account and even worse, current accounts. So like most people who are not savvy or good with finances you just want to see some figures in your savings account or your current account and you are quite happy about that and in 2003 an uncle of mine who is very very well versed with finances and the markets, he spoke to me about getting into investments and at that point in time believe me the only thing I knew about funds were chit funds and all I had read about them were that those were scams. So when he told about mutual funds I likened it to some kind of scam. However, we had a long discussion and I decided to take baby steps and I remember I invested a very very very tiny amount in 2002 just to get the hang – invested in a mutual fund and since then it’s been a long long road.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

What would I tell my 20-year-old self-today? Well today the first thing I would say I made a very very good decision. I am very happy that I decided to take this little risk. At that point in time I was completely risk-averse and my parents, they were only into fixed deposits and PPF and yes I remember that and believe me I felt even those were risks and I felt even fixed deposit and anything that was not a figure in your savings account and something you couldn’t see was risk. I am very happy I took that decision to start investing and I would tell my 20-year-old self, I would tell myself from 2003 that maybe I should have even been a little more aggressive then I should have taken a little more risk then. But I am happy I took baby steps and it has helped me to slowly grow over time.

What has been your best investment so far?

Well, there have been many good investments over the years, many decent investments but I think one of my best investments have been my hospital property. So I invested into my hospital property at a time when the real estate was at it’s lowest and subsequently real estate zoomed. This was around the year of 2005-2006 the value of that property has now significantly appreciated but next to that my disciplined systematic approach into the markets in equity markets in the form of mutual funds over the years and I have been a very dedicated and disciplined SIP investor and I think that has also been a very sensible and sound financial decision which has helped me really grow my finances over the years.

What is your worst investment so far?

I made a lot of bad decisions as well along the way. I think one of the worst decisions I made was in 2005. So at that point in time I was offered a commercial property in Bandra and now Bandra is one of the prime real estates in Mumbai today. Being young at that point in time, I chose to put that money into a luxury car and now today 15 years down the line that luxury car is worth nothing. It is zero and that property has probably appreciated 10 times over and so every time I pass that property I feel a sting today because for that money… that money would have multiplied 10 times today and the car is worth nothing today and that would be my worst decision over the years.

How did you deal with the 2008 crash?

I think as far as I said in the beginning, I am a very disciplined investor. I don’t look at the markets on a day to day basis. I am here for the long term. I am not here for the short term and I do remember when the market crashed at that point in time even my uncle who had got me into investing called me and panicked, and he is a really seasoned investor, and said sell everything, cut losses, wait for the gains, wait for the markets to climb again, but I refused and kept investing at that point of time in my SIPs and didn’t look at what my portfolio was valued at and I think it paid off. In the end, I did it then, I did it again recently when there was a market crash. I just kept my SIP’s no matter whatever happens – comes hell or high water my SIP’s continue every month.

How do you plan for your children’s education and for their future?

There’s the thing you know, we started investing in the early 2000s the concepts of finance and investing were not as fleshed out as today so I did not start with any kind of intention to have planned for goals or plan for targets. The idea was just to create and generate wealth over a period of time and just to invest sensibly and create wealth over a period of time. I had not really planned for any specific goal in mind, but the idea is to create a corpus so that when I have to meet those goals I have the corpus to do it so I don’t look it as individual buckets from which I have to pick out. I look at it as one large bucket and keep draining the bucket as and when the time comes. The idea is to be flexible. I have friends and colleagues who let’s say have invested something, let’s say a child’s education or marriage or whatever but contingencies do happen. Sometimes health emergencies and other emergencies may come along. You have to know how to balance out your investments or kind of move your investments from one bucket to the other as and when those goals arise. Maybe if I was investing today as a newcomer I would have thought about goal-based planning and all of that but no I have not planned for any specific goals in mind. I just plan generally to grow my investments over a period of time.

Do you have any holiday saving plan?

Holiday savings? No. As I said I don’t plan specifically. I do plan holidays regularly. We have a lot of families abroad. We do visit them almost every year but I don’t specifically plan my investments for holiday or as I said for any specific goal be it child’s education, buying a car, or buying a whatever. It’s sensible planning over time and as and when I need the money I decide from where I can move that money.

Do you have any emergency planning?

As I said I don’t do any specific emergency planning but if an emergency does come I hope to move from my present investments. The way I look at emergencies is basically for me really is a health care emergency so I have taken very very good health care plans, life insurance plans, I have looked into all of that so I have covered myself for health insurance. For life insurance adequately and I have covered my home and my properties against all kinds of emergencies. And I have also taken personal accident covers and being a medical professional my hands are everything so I have covered myself for any kind of loss of limbs and anything and you know. I have kept myself covered for any emergencies and contingencies through taking sensible insurance policies and investments are separate completely separate. So I hope as and when the emergency comes in or any kind of contingency I have a separate resource for that.

Do you and your colleagues discuss finance? Tell us something about it.

Not really not really I mean we are medical professionals and we like all medical professional when we sit together we pretend to know a lot about finance and we very often we used to sit in the doctor’s lounge in the hospital and we used to all think of ourselves as great financial gurus and keep advising each other. All of us have made a lot of mistakes. Some things have been good over the years. So during my early years I remember there was a talk with my colleges about things like portfolio management services and different kind of financial instruments. A lot of people would say how they burned their hands. A lot of people, lot of my friends have invested directly into equities. So i think over the years i have learned one thing is listen to everybody, hear a lot, but I think you need to do your own research, your own study, and your analysis of your own finances and plan accordingly. I don’t think anybody can really help you in that they can guide you but i think you yourself have to understand your finances, your own inflows, your own outflows, and plan based on that. I also had, unfortunately, I had not so good experience with so-called financial advisors over the years. You know I have been through a lot of financial advisors. Most of them had probably good intentions. I was not really happy with the financial advisors because I felt most of them were trying to pressurize you into some product or rather influence you specially ULIPs. So I have burned my fingers a lot in the early year with ULIPs after listening to the advisor and one thing that I learned from there is never ever mix investments with insurance ever. So even as recent as a couple of weeks ago, I did have one of my financial advisors come to me with proposals of ULIPs and they tell you that now things have changed and I have learned to keep investments and insurance separately. Also they try to convince you that ULIPs are now most tax efficient now that there are taxation on long-term capital gains but I think trying to plan investment trying to keep taxation in mind is asking for trouble because taxation is something that can change year after year we have seen it with long term capital gain, there’s no saying tomorrow that the government will not tax the insurance policy or may not tax anything else so I think taxation though it’s very important to factor while planning your investments I don’t think that should be your primary focus for investment at least that’s what I do with my investments. So no really funny stories or exciting stories but small little nuggets over the years that help you make sound investments decisions hopefully.

What would you tell to all the young investors out there?

Well, this is purely my opinion based on what has worked for me. I don’t say it will work for everybody. I think the most important thing is financial discipline. So you set your goals, you set your targets whatever it is, whether it is a certain amount of wealth that you want to create, whether it’s a holiday you want to go for, whether it’s a specific goal and you invest in a disciplined way. I think any kind of investments whether it be equities or mutual funds or whatever if you go about it in a very systematic and disciplined way you will only do well in the long term. Anybody trying to get into equities or mutual funds for short-term and panic with every kind of fluctuation or change there is in the market then maybe don’t get into equities – don’t get into mutual funds, don’t get into the markets. Then stick with fixed deposits or whatever. If you are getting into the market, equities, I think the important thing is to stay disciplined over a period of time. Give your investments time to grow. Do not panic every few months or every few turns in the market. So I think the most important thing in my opinion for investing is discipline. Do not look at your portfolio on a daily or a weekly basis. Do not try to track the market daily or weekly if you are a normal investor like I am. I mean day trading, playing with the markets, those are meant for people who do that on a regular basis – the trader, the people who’s living whos profession is the markets. So people like me who are regular investors, I think what’s important is to be there for the long term and to be very very disciplined about our approach to investing. So like I told you even in 2008 or whenever there was crash in the market I didn’t look at the market. There was a lot of talk around me, my friends, my colleagues who would panic and say let’s sell, let’s sit on our losses but there is nothing like a loss. Who knows what the bottom is? Who knows what the top is? So I was talking to this friend the other day who I remember when the market was around 30000, the sensex was around 30000, he would say it’s too high right now let’s not invest, let’s wait. I said wait for what? Today the markets are 35000. I tell him look if you had invested at 30000 you would be sitting on some profit today. Tomorrow if the markets are 45000 you will regret you didn’t invest when the market was 35000. So I don’t think if you are here for the long term you are not going to look at what the markets are today because there is always going to be an upside in the future. There will be minor downsides here and there but you got to ride that out for the long term.

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are of Dr Ryan DSouza and does not reflect those of Groww. Dr Ryan DSouza is simply sharing his personal experience. This video and transcript are not to be used as financial advise.