One of the central tenets of modern macroeconomic thinking has been the emphasis on following a counter-cyclical policy — raise interest rates during the boom phase and lower them during a slowdown. This counter-intuitive idea lies at the heart of Sailesh Raj Bhan’s investment strategy. Bhan vividly recalls, how his ability to spot sharp distortions in relative sectoral valuations across different business cycles since 2004 enabled him to spot the right opportunities and earn a 10-year return of 10.79% compared with the Nifty’s 5.54%. Bhan ranks ninth in our survey, based on his past 10-year performance and currently manages assets worth over Rs.16,000 crore.
Born in Hyderabad, Bhan acquired his graduation degree in genetics (1993) from Nizam College. Given the limited opportunities in geneticsresearch at that time and with the equity market in Indiapresenting immense potential, Bhan went on to do his MBA in finance from Osmania University. He also holds a CFA charter from Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, Hyderabad. Bhan recalls, “My first brush with the stock market was in 1995. It’s not a job with a finite framework, it’s a job with a framework that is too large, you have to make it finite, or else you get lost in the whole system! And that makes it exciting.”
Before joining Reliance Capital Asset Management — as it was formerly known — in November 2003, (which then had assets under management of Rs.700 crore) Bhan was leading the research team at Emkay Share and Stock Brokers for one and a half years. This was after he had worked as a pharma and technology analyst for five years at Shah & Sequeira Investment, a Mumbai-based brokerage house.
He attributes his analytical rigour to the experience he amassed as a sell-side analyst before becoming a fund manager. “The equity research stint helped me build a hypothesis, which allowed one to take decisions, but now as a fund manager, you have to live those decisions. It is one thing telling someone to invest for the long term, but actually making money by investing in companies for the long haul is another thing altogether.”