In the early nineties, comic books in India were coming of age. Complexity was being added to stories and outlines of characters, and graphic novels were just a few years away. The books were a preoccupation with most adolescents, but not Asit Bhandarkar (then in the eighth grade). He was more fascinated by financial dailies, which were running stories of “Big Bull” Harshad Mehta.
The pink papers were full of his exploits and magazines wrote of his flamboyant lifestyle, including his Mumbai penthouse with a mini golf course and imported fleet of cars. “It was simply incredible for me as a kid to know that someone could increase wealth so fast by investing in the stock market,” recalls Bhandarkar. It seemed superheroic.
In a year, in 1992, that myth fell apart. Mehta’s scam was revealed, detailing how he had manipulated the market, taken advantage of the loopholes in the banking system to finance his buying and siphoned off funds in the process. Bhandarkar was absorbed by how fast it unraveled. People were committing suicide, criminal cases were being filed and the market came crashing down. “At that time, I thought to myself that the stock market is a different animal that needs to be scrutinised and analysed to develop further understanding. And that’s how my interest in the stock market began,” he says.
This interest soon developed into a passion, and eventually, profession for Bhandarkar, who currently handles four funds at JM Financial Asset Management. “I am one of the luckiest few people who chose where he wants to be and managed to reach there,” says Bhandarkar, who holds an MBA in finance. He handles the JM Arbitrage Fund, JM Value Fund, JM Large Cap Fund and JM Core 11 Fund — each catering to a different investment need. And across these funds, Bhandarkar has been able to deliver consistent return to investors, year after year.
Bhandarkar’s success lies in his ability to identify opportunities and then to build skill-sets to capitalise on them. For instance, he says, during his MBA in 2000-02, he observed that there wer