morningstar india: Mind Over Money: Wildlife photography is like meditation for this India head of a global research house

“Being in the wild is a form of meditation for me. Disconnected from the rest of the world, leaving the routine of your hectic professional life behind, nature has a way of helping realign priorities and bringing back focus in your life,” says Aditya Agarwal, Managing Director, Morningstar India.

In an interview with ETMarkets, Agarwal who has been heading the India business for the past 14 years, said: Living in basic accommodation, without internet and spending the entire day in the forest in scorching heat or chilling winter, is an absolutely rejuvenating experience.

Edited excerpts:

Wow! Wildlife photography, sounds interesting and at the same time adventurous. How did it all start?
I have always loved being in nature. Born and brought up in Dehradun, I used to spend time going for treks with my school friends and wandering in the beautiful hills and meadows in the region.

Even today, I love doing road trips and spending as much time in nature as I can. I have been going to the jungles for about 12-13 years now, and I can tell you that the experience has been enthralling and has completely changed my thought process.

Being in the wild is a form of meditation for me. Disconnected from the rest of the world, leaving the routine of your hectic professional life behind, nature has a way of helping realign priorities and bringing back focus in your life.

Living in basic accommodation, without internet and spending the entire day in the forest in scorching heat or chilling winter, is an absolutely rejuvenating experience.

You have been heading the Morningstar India business for the past 14 years. How has this passion of yours helped you in financial planning?
At Morningstar, our mission is to

investor success. We do put out a lot of research for the investors to help them make informed decisions and guide them to build a portfolio keeping a long-term vision in mind.

One of the most important aspects to be successful in investing is to have patience and spend time in the market. I see many investors wanting to make quick money and trying to time the market.

In this process, they tend to have sub-par returns and sometimes even end up eroding their capital.

You need to be focused on your goals and take risks commensurate to your appetite. Once you have agreed on your asset allocation with your financial advisor, stick to it. Don’t feel greedy or fearful about what’s going on in the market.

The lure to make money in the short-term by deviating from your asset allocation and overinvesting or underinvesting in a particular asset class can be detrimental to your long-term goals. It is the same thing in the wild as well. Spend time in the jungles, absorb nature, and you will be rewarded.

I also enjoy doing wildlife photography – it is a great stress buster and at the same time, you connect with nature. I think when it comes to fast-paced spaces like markets, or MFs for that matter — it helps us understand one thing –- to slow down. Let nature take its course. What are your views?
I totally agree with you. I think the two key things are patience and focus. Your desired output cannot be achieved overnight. It takes patience and perseverance.

At times, we would have to wait for several hours just to get that one fine shot. Similarly, equity or mutual fund investing should always be looked at from a long-term horizon. Short-term disruptions should not deter one from investing.

Mind Over Money: Just like a wildlife photographer investors need to be focused & patient, says Aditya Agarwal

“As an investor and a wildlife photographer, you need to stay focused and be patient… whether that’s waiting to photograph a tiger, or hoping to gain from stock investments,” says Aditya Agarwal, Managing Director, Morningstar India.

Tell us something about your journey in the financial space. A little bit about your background, schooling, and your inspiration.
I was born in Dehradun and did my primary education in Kolkata before moving back to Dehradun again. I was fortunate to have been exposed to financial markets before most people of my age. I began managing my mother’s money when I was still very young, and just out of school.

I used to visit our local sub-broker/investment consultant to invest my mother’s money in company fixed deposits, which provided better returns than bank deposits.

Spending time with our investment consultant turned out to be really beneficial as I gradually began to understand the nuances of stock investing.

Given my interest in capital markets, my career options were pretty clear to me. I worked for a few reputed financial services firms in Delhi, before venturing out on my own to start mutualfundsindia.com in 1999.

This was India’s first dedicated mutual funds portal that provided research and analytics on a host of Indian mutual funds. With more than a little pride, I can say that the portal was rated among the best 150 websites in the world by Forbes.

Then in 2008, I joined Morningstar, a company I always admired for its mission of helping investors take the right decisions, as their first employee in India. Today we are over 4,000 in India and still growing.

What would you advise investors who want to pursue photography?
One of the things I have always believed in and advised others is to find ways to work with nature and not pit yourself against it.

In this era of rapid urbanization, we need to protect our forests, and our biodiversity and do everything that we can to protect the environment.

As an investor and a wildlife photographer, you need to stay focused and be patient… whether that’s waiting to photograph a tiger, or hoping to gain from stock investments.

Don’t get distracted by imagined opportunities you might be missing and live in the moment instead. Have a positive attitude in life.

(Disclaimer: Recommendations, suggestions, views and opinions given by the experts are their own. These do not represent the views of Economic Times)

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