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Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Life as a full-time investor


Once upon a time, I had a full-time job. I used to go to the office and do the “office work” and in the evenings and weekends, I used to hone my investing skills. After about 15 years of such existence and having reached a semblance of financial independence, I started toying with the idea of leaving my job and becoming a “full-time investor”, and FTI, in short.

In the investor circles, there is a perceived highbrow feeling that I get whenever I spoke to an FTI. In conversations, the FTIs would make me feel that unless you were part of the FTI crowd somehow you were not a serious investor. Which of course is really stupid. I know so many great investors who are happy and probably better off because they are part-time investors. Having a stable income from a job can be a very liberating thing. You can focus on identifying a handful of companies every year and then let those investments work the magic for you. Of course, if you yearn to be a day trader, having a job is not going to work.

As a full-time investor, the first thing that hits you is the amount of time you have at your disposal. And unless you are disciplined it can derail your efforts very quickly. Distractions in the form of Whatsapp, Twitter (ever notice how many so-called investors tweet so many tweets during the day?? I wonder what they actually do for work or is it all just an exercise in social media outreach) can take you down a rabbit hole and you realise that you have spent a few hours and accomplished nothing.

But having this additional time can be a boon. You get time to reflect on different businesses. You get a lot of time to learn different things. I focused a fair bit on reading much more diversely. You can slow down and learn things slowly, at your own pace. Macroeconomics, quantitative theory, technical analysis, geopolitics were topics I started picking up slowly.

My strategy is to break up my work into three distinct parts. I had two till some time back and added the third (will come to that shortly). Here are my parts of work:

  • Passive (reading, monitoring portfolio and watchlist stocks, learning new things, listening to podcasts)
  • Active (Writing, Coding, creating summaries of stuff which I have read or listened to, running screeners)
  • Thinking (the new addition)

I wasn’t keeping aside time for thinking. And the challenge was unless I actively keep aside time for thinking about making decisions like if I want to make a switch in my portfolio, I was leaving it aside for it to come and hit me while I was pursuing my active work like writing about my portfolio picks.

I started marking my days of the week based on themes of study. So, Monday and Tuesday are for Quant & technical analysis, Wednesday is earmarked for general reading including macro, geopolitics etc, Thursday and Friday are kept aside for looking at interesting businesses and business models. These theme-based days help in focusing attention and making progress in each area.

My biggest challenge was that I simply overworked and overstimulated myself. Previously, office work and investment study were different. With now both coinciding, I ended up doing investment work for 12-14 hours a day without a break, seven days a week.

For twenty years, my “hobby” or “passion project” was investing. Now that is the primary focus. So, after many years, the search is on for building a new hobby. Reading fiction, watching movies, sports have started taking up more time in the day which provides a mental break from investment work. Hopefully, once the pandemic is behind us for good, then I can resume playing again. Losing the battle of the bulge for the last twenty years, seriously considering taking up some sports or activity that will focus on the health and fitness aspect.

Looking back I feel lucky I started the advisory because it gives me some purpose and work to do. Otherwise, I would probably have just sat the whole day reading and writing!! Running the advisory, interacting with investors, reading and responding to their questions gives me an immense amount of pleasure and most of the time helps me in my learning process as well.


  1. For us muggles, you have shown a path :)

  2. Did getting the SEBI registration take a lot of time and effort? Was the exam helpful in furthering your knowledge?

    1. The paperwork did take time with multiple iterations. The exams are simple and straightforward for someone who is a practitioner.

  3. I feel safe when my investment advisor is conservative in predictions. Thank you for good blog.

  4. This article has strengthened my courage to dive deep in the world of investing by working simulataneosly in a day job. I just need to more methodical in my approach to read , reflect on new trends and think about next disruptive ideas which can radically change the industry.