Feature

Confession of a FOMO investor

Investors tend to take on risky bets driven by the fear of missing out

Recently I came across a term, which was new to me: FOMO. It’s slang perhaps inspired by new age media, which basically implies a form of envy when you miss out on action. And when I looked at what is going on in the financial world for the past few years, it seemed that this ‘infection’ had consumed a significant majority. I don’t claim to have read market cycles over centuries, but I have not seen such extremely narrow and extreme valuations going back several decades. There was FOMO in the real estate space before 2008. Now, pensioners get nothing in their FD, so driven by FOMO, they take equity risks even for their monthly bills. Equity market participants are scared that the market may climb even higher and they will not be able to participate later. Many have FOMO in FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) stocks. Global investors have FOMO on India. Indian investors have FOMO on HRITHIK (HDFC, Reliance Industries, Infosys, TCS, HDFC Bank, ITC and Kotak Mahindra Bank).

How I got sucked in

I consider myself a disciplined investor who has the ability to stay away from the crowd for extended periods. And that’s what I did for a good part of two decades before I seemingly (and unknowingly then) succumbed to it over the past few years.

Over the past two decades, I made a tonne of money in bank stocks. In the second round, I lost money in one of the PSU banks. But the bad dream (or should I say sloppy work at my end) did not end there. I had bought two other PSU banks prior to that and two more thereafter. I always knew they were mediocre banks, but in hindsight its hard to pinpoint which one turned out to be the worst in th

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