Chairman’s Speak

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Mr. Raamdeo Agrawal - Chairman, Motilal Oswal AMC

Mr. Raamdeo Agrawal

Motilal Oswal Asset Management – Buy Right Sit Tight Insights - August 2016

Dear investor friends,

I am pleased to present the fifth edition of our “Buy Right Sit Tight Insights”. Through this series, we will share with you our investment insights and other ideas which we believe are relevant to the world of equity investing. 

This time, we discuss a very basic framework for equity investing – the Knowability-Importance Matrix.

Focus on the Knowable and Important; the rest is noise


 “There are two kinds of people who lose money: those who know nothing and those who know everything.”
— Henry Kaufman, economist & financial consultant


In the age of TV channels, mobile phones and internet, information overload is obvious. How does one take care of which information to accept and which to reject? The following 2x2 matrix helps me in allocating my time prudently:

The Knowability-Importance Matrix with associated probabilities


There are 2 types of information: Important and Unimportant. Further, within each of these, there are two types: Knowable and Unknowable

Important information is what one should be concerned about and where most of one’s time should be allocated. Even within the Important information, much of it may pertain to the future and hence Unknowable. Thus, very little of what is Important is Knowable.  Just to give it a numerical flavour, 99% of all information may be Unimportant and only 1% Important. Of this 1%, again 99% may be Unknowable. Thus, only 0.01% of all the information may be both Important and Knowable.

The human mind gets drifted into issues which are Important but Unknowable, particularly relating to global macroeconomic issues like Chinese credit bubble, Brexit, US interest rates, etc, etc. Our effort is to cut all the noise and allocate maximum time in researching what is Important and Knowable.

Basically, everything around the company / business / competition is what we focus on. Time is limited and how we allocate will decide where we get maximum edge.  True competitive advantage of an investor is in superior understanding of Value i.e. the Moat and Growth of the company. (Price is same for everybody.)

In conclusion

Howard Marks’ book “The Most Important Thing Illuminated”  has a chapter titled “The Most Important Thing is … Knowing What You Don’t Know”. The closing words of the chapter are apt in this context – 
“Overestimating what you’re capable of knowing or doing can be extremely dangerous – in brain surgery, transocean racing or investing. Acknowledging the boundaries of what you can know – and working within those limits rather than venturing beyond – can give you a great advantage.”

So let’s focus on what is Important and Knowable and put disproportionate effort over there. 

I welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement. Please email the same to insights@motilaloswal.com.


Raamdeo Agrawal

Chairman





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