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Showing posts from July, 2009

See Your Money Work

A column that I recently wrote in the magazine where I work
Distributors will now, rightly, be paid for the service they give FROM 1 August, when you go to buy a mutual fund (MF), you will not have to pay upfront commission, or entry loads, as they are called, typically, around 2.25 per cent. These loads are commissions that are presently coming from the amount that you invest with your fund and get passed to your agent. But market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has mandated that your agent and you will now have to mutually decide upon an amount that you would like to pay him and he will also have to disclose his commission. A sweeping impact...Understandably, agents are finding this tough to swallow. A senior manager of one of India’s largest distributors said that if customers don’t ask what the retailer’s commission is when buying a washing machine, for instance, then why has Sebi asked distributors to disclose commissions to investors. He may be right, but c…

The Week That Was...

After a long and tiring week, a small wrap of things that went by. Some movies apart from the dud Harry Potter I managed to catch. 'New York' (John Abraham, Niel Nitin Mukesh, Katrina Kaif and Irfan Khan) and 'The Hangover'. NY was good, better than I had expected. This is a story of three friends studying in NY and how their lives get into one big mess post 9-11 massacre. It is a story of how racial bias can play havoc with you if you are caught on the wrong side of the law. The story picks up pace after the movie's only song and what seemed to be as long as the movie itself! Nice watch, though it could have been better.
If only our film-makers go the extra mile to make a good film, a great one. Whenever we show movies that place a lot of importance on locations or caste/creed/race, a little of research is required. Authenticity in this regard can elevate the movie by leaps and bounds. 'A Wednesday' could have come across as a much-better researched movie …

NOT QUITE THE CHARMS

I had no plans to watch the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series yesterday evening, but circumstances led me to Sterling Cineplex eventually; a personal record for me, I have watched all the editions of Harry Potter here. Plus, of course, a reasonable ticket price of Rs 120 bodes well for me, although I am not such a great fan of Screens 2 and 3 in here (there are a total of three screens). Screen 1 still remains much better than the other two. But a ticket price of Rs 120 and a food court down below makes Sterling a good multiplex deal.
So did I like Harry Potter and the half-Blood Prince? The answer is a resounding 'No'. I do not want to go on a trip of how the makers did not adapt this or that from the book and left out this or that, and so on, but yes if you are adapting an exceptionally well-written book, you had better lived up to the standards. Like it or not, adaptation is crucial. You may take creative liberties from the book- which this movie seemed to have t…

Buying Mutual Funds To Get Simpler

A story that I wrote in the magazine where I work...
Get ready to trade in Funds as simply as it is to trade in equity shares
Isn’t it ironical that when you need to invest in, say, five different mutual fund (MF) schemes, you need to sub­mit five forms and five cheques, but when you want to invest in equity shares of five companies, you either phone your broker or log on to the Internet and complete your transaction? You get a con­solidated account statement of all your equity holdings from your depository par­ticipant (DP), but get statements from as many MFs as you have invested in.Wouldn’t it be easier if MF transactions could happen as they take place for equity shares? Thanks to the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (Sebi) chair­man Chandrasekhar Bhaskar Bhave, the Association of Mutual Funds of India (Amfi) has appointed a committee of six MF officials to devise a platform for trad­ing in MF units. The objective is three-fold: to make buying and selling of MF units less cu…

Monsoon Magic in Mumbai

No Fx Coins, We're Banks, Please

The level of services in Indian banks need to improve by leaps and bounds. Although some of the facilities offered by some of them are quite good and offer lots of conveniences, some of their policies can be very strange. For instance, exchanging foreign currency. I went on an international trip last year and again, last month. Both these times I took foreign exchange (fx) from my bank, ICICI Bank. Both the times they did not give me coins, even though I wanted coins. Whenever we travel abroad, its always advisable to carry some coins with you, to give lose change to be able to buy small items, like say under a dollar, or to make telephone calls from public telephone booths.
Upon returning back to India, most of us usually give away the left-over fx in exchange for Indian rupees. Now, it's quite natural that when we go abroad, we're bound to accumulate coins. The longer you stay, the more the number of coins, both in quantity and denomination, you tend to accumulate. But when …

Budget 2009 and mutual funds

There was nothing much for mutual funds (MF) in this year's budget. One small change though. Customs duty on gold bars increased to Rs 200 per 10 grams, up from Rs 100 per 10 grams, earlier. Impact:The net asset values (NAV) of gold exchange-traded funds (ETF) will increase (it did so on Tuesday 7 July; a day after the budget was announced) by Rs 10. Since one unit of most Gold ETFs is equivalent to one gram of gold in a majority of gold ETFs, the increase of Rs 100 in customs duty per every 10 grams of gold would translate to an increase of Rs 10 in the NAV of an average gold ETF.
Apart from the marginal rise of the gold ETFs, there’s not much impact. The reasons for holding gold ETFs still remain true. There’s nothing more to it. Since customs duties of such nature are not in the hands of funds managers and are imposed universally on all gold ETFs, it does not alter your gold ETF holdings. The benefits of holding gold ETF in your portfolio still remains. Stay invested.

What about…

Solace In The End

I am a deeply religious man. No,I do not believe in forwarding all those chain emails requesting me to forward to several dozens of people, failing which bad luck would descend on me. I simply throw such emails in the trash. I can't fathom why people believe in such emails. If you are reading this and if you still keep sending me such emails, I will soon block you completely, on my email. But yes, I believe in prayers, even though I never proclaim my beliefs to the world. But yeah I feel prayers heal and I also feel that miracles do happen, time and again, if you are sincere in your heart and if you have the faith.
Like today evening, work was at its chaotic worst. A fund manager ditched me last minute for a column he had promised to write in my magazine and my editors were hopping up and down. So was I. I had plans for the evening- more of that, later- so it was important that I get out of the office. Just when it seemed like I was trying to move an immovable mountain, my colleag…

15-LOVE-FEDERER

Tennis is a cruel sport. Star tennis writer Jon Wierthem was right. Isn't it ironic that in a match that lasted four hours and 16 minutes, despite Roddick holding his serve wonderfully for most of the match, serving from behind all throughout the fifth and penultimate set, the one time he lost his serve was that final game that handed Roger Federer the Championships? For most part of the match, Roddick was the better player, yet a few points here and there turned around the match and gave us the result of a lifetime. True, Roddick had four set points in the second set tie-breaker when he led 6-2, but Fed came back to win it and level the match at one set a piece. Tennis is a cruel sport when after four hours and 16 minutes, only one of the two players has to emerge a winner and the other a loser. And sorry, the cliche 'there are no losers' don't make things any better, okay? Try telling that Andy Roddick!
But Roddick is back as a better player than he was five years b…

SLOW SPEED

Another rail budget went by and nothing significant for the average Mumbaikar.
While the full list of stations to be upgraded to a world-class standard is awaited, it looks like both Sealdah and Howrah stations (both stations in Kolkata; capital city of the rail minister's home state) are included, but Mumbai gets only Mumbai CST. Mumbai Central seems to have been left out, despite its prominence. Stations like the Bandra Terminus and Kurla Terminus, which were built to decongest Mumbai Central and Mumbai CST stations, respectively, seem neglected. My friend Prashant Mahesh recently caught a train from Bandra and was quite distraught on seeing the conditin of the station complex there. Imagine getting out of a Meru Cab and getting in the Bandra Terminus; that is some irony.
At the Mumbai Central station, for many years I had seen policemen wonderfully manning the taxi stand there. No more of that now. What do we have instead? Rude and greedy taxi-drivers lining up their taxis outsi…