India's Best Fund Managers 2017

First mover

Dhiraj Sachdev loves the pay-offs that follow by being early in the game 

Soumik Kar

Dhiraj Sachdev of HSBC learnt his lessons very early when he bought his first few stocks about two decades ago. While he was working with India Infoline as an analyst in the early ’90s, he picked a hardware company HCL Infosystems, where he went on to lose money. “In a hardware business, I did not realise that the character of the business was entirely different. Hardware is a business characterised by falling prices on rising volume. So, you are constantly on a treadmill as a result of competition. One of the biggest learning was that you cannot get attached to a stock and hope for a recovery. You need to cut your losses when things are changing. If the facts change, you need to change,” says Sachdev.

Nevertheless Sachdev’s regret was partially negated with handsome money he made in a software company. “Around the same time I also invested in Infosys. I liked the IT business since there was no need for major capex and India’s IT skills were getting demonstrated. It was a scalable business, extremely capital efficient and generated a lot of cash. That coupled with the huge IT outsourcing opportunities in the US excited me,” says Sachdev.    

Immediately after completing his Cost Accounting and Chartered Accountancy course in the year 1997, he joined India Infoline as an analyst. “Being a chartered accountant and a cost accountant I could have joined some manufacturing firm which would have paid me better but the interest in fundamental research held me back,” says Sachdev. “It didn’t pay very well so you had to have a passion for what you were doing. In fact I had shifted to an IT company after a brief period. However within six months, I realised that it was not my cup of tea. My interest and passion was always in equities, so I returned to the capital market,” he adds.

Sachdev, who is 44 now, realised the importance of research early on. While in India Infoline, he did a lot of primary research on industries and companies. Meeting managements, forecasting financials and writing detailed reports on companies helped him understand how companies worked.

This laid the foundation for his journey into investing. Sachdev joined HDFC Bank in 1999 as head of research in private banking and treasury. As part of the treasury te

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