One of the great things in life is the occurrence of chance events which turn out to be enriching experiences. One of those happened on a normal Thursday evening when we met Prashant Jain, one of the most brilliant fund managers in India. The meeting was very thought provoking and inspiring.
Mr. Prashant Jain, is currently the Chief Investment Officer at HDFC Asset Management Company Ltd. Prior to his current role Mr. Jain was the Chief Investment Officer, Head of Funds Management and Fund Manager at Zurich Asset Management Company (India) Private Limited. Before that, he worked at SBI Mutual Fund as Fund In-Charge. Mr Jain is a Chartered Financial Analyst from AIMR. He earned a PGDM from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. Mr Jain also received a B. Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
He discussed his investment philosophy, how he looks at companies during a change in leadership, corporate governance, how he spends his day, etc. He gave us his contemplations on many different aspects of investing and also spoke about current events. Below are some takeaways from our interaction with him.
Views on the new generation taking over blue chip corporate houses
Mr Jain’s experience where the new generation has taken over blue chip companies has been largely positive. He observed that the new generation of leaders are extremely well educated, and have an open mind to suggestions on how to modify running the operations of the business. They come equipped with knowledge with a fresh zeal and energy. This attitude often results in improving the company’s profitability.
On contrarian calls
He has often believed in going against the tide of popular opinions. He trusts his experience and knowledge, rather than going by the popular opinion. He gave multiple examples where has has gone against the tide when valuations appeared frothy.
How he spends his day
Mr. Jain said he has stopped reading investment books since it stopped adding incremental value. He believes in reading more data driven articles from newspapers and magazines. He recommends books authored by John Bogle and Warren Buffett. He said he reads close to 8-9 newspapers a day searching for new themes or ideas which might spark his interest.
Thoughts on private management running a PSU bank
He said this is an experiment as no one knows how this combination will pan out. However, he thinks it’s worth a try. One should observe the way these institutions will be run by private management.
In addition, he spoke about the role of technology in the banking sector, his investment mistakes and the future of the new banks that have come up. Mr. Jain juxtaposed his experience and his knowledge, imparting what is useful and weeding out the rest, providing enormously valuable insights, and that is what made the meeting immensely memorable.