Finance & Economics

Rise of Structured Products in Wealth Management

download (1)Credit crises in 2008 highlighted the risks associated with complex derivatives and securitization. However complex and exotic derivatives have also helped to diversify risks in the form of structured products which form part of alternative investments in wealth management.

Structured products, as described by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), are securities derived from or based on a single security, a basket of securities, an index, a commodity, a debt issuance and/or a foreign currency and swaps. Structured products can be plain vanilla product (composed of zero coupon bond and put/call options) or can have exotic options (digital options, look back or knock out structures) and can be principal and non principal protected. Structured products could range from simple index linked structures which are principal protected to non principal protected structures having credit default swaps as an underlying asset class. Globally, low interest rates have driven investors in search of high yield products apart from traditional asset classes like equities, fixed income and real estate.

Structured products are one of the fastest growing products in alternative investments especially in Asia in private banking and wealth management for high net worth investors (HNI investors with investable surplus of USD 1 million). Structured products help investors to diversify their risk and form an important asset class in Markowitz portfolio theory of efficient frontier.  Structured products can also be tailor made by asset managers for investors (HNI/UHNI) depending on their risk profile, investment horizon and view of the underlying index. Moreover structured products appeal to the growing investment savvy investors who are themselves sophisticated enough to understand complex derivative structures and investment strategies.

images According to Credit Suisse, global wealth is USD 253 trillion with Asia especially China as the biggest growth market and not surprisingly has the second highest number of millionaires next to United States. After credit crises, appeal of complex structured products which are more common in United States and Europe is on a decline with simpler vanilla structure products being favoured especially in Asia. Strict rules and regulations against complex derivatives, CDS market nonexistent except for a few blue chip companies and non convertibility of currency esp. in India limits the scope of complex structured products in emerging markets. In India about 90% of the structure products are equity linked products to Nifty while in China trusts and vanilla structures are sold routinely in unregulated shadow banking.

1-Cash-Prevails-Over-Equities-2015Going forward as capital markets especially the derivative markets develop and become more complex in emerging markets like China and India and as investors become more investment savvy,  structured products will play a pivotal role as a diversification option compared to traditional asset classes like equities and fixed income. According to Warren Buffett derivatives might be financial weapons of mass destruction but when used judiciously it helps to diversify risk and add liquidity to the system.

The richest 1% of the world’s population now owns 50% of its total wealth, according to Credit Suisse. Why?? Is this information not disturbing.. 

Detailed report on wealth management coming soon..Stay tuned


Wellbeing & Fitness

Bikram Yoga..Hot Hot Hot Yoga

P1In this article we will be discussing my experience in Bikram yoga. This and coming month we shall be discussing about fitness, well being including yoga and meditation. To begin with Bikram yoga is performed in a hot room and is of 1.5 hrs which includes twenty-six patented yoga asanas. Bikram Yoga is very popular abroad especially in North America and Europe.

Bikram Yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury when he visited United States during the 1970’s. The postures are based on the hatha yoga technique while  I remember watching a video of Bikram Choudhury where he discussed how it is easy to mold metal using heat. This analogy applies to your body and mind to make it more supple and flexible when you practice yoga asanas in a yoga studio which is heated to nearly 40-42 degrees with special heaters and humidifiers. The difference between Bikram Yoga and other yoga techniques is that due to the temperature it maybe helps to accelerate weight loss and flexibility. Continue reading “Bikram Yoga..Hot Hot Hot Yoga”

Spiritualism, Travel & Adventure, Wellbeing & Fitness

Yoga at its Best:Sivananda Ashram

Continuing my series on Fitness & Wellbeing, Travel & Adventure and Spirituality, we take a look at Yoga as a means of Fitness, Wellbeing & Spirituality in this article. Yoga sutras a compilation of asanas with mindfulness  is credit to Yogi Patanjali. they are a set of physical asanas along with meditation which help in the union of  body with consciousness resulting in both physical and spiritual well-being.  We will not dwell deep into the origins of Yoga since Swamiji_Classic_1many books and literature is available on internet.

In this article and series of articles i will discuss my experience at various Yoga centres across India during my spiritual sabbatical apart from my experience in Vipassana meditation.
We begin our journey by discussing the very famous Sivananda Ashram  which is spread across the world with headquarters in Canada (not surprised since Canada is emerging as a spiritual hub in the world).  Founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedantamaster Centres, Swami Vishnudevananda, was a world authority on Hatha (yoga symbolising physical postures)  and Raja Yoga. Swamiji was also known as the “Flying Swami” for the different peace missions he accomplished around the world.Swami Vishnudevananda was a disciple of Swami Sivananda, who was one of the greatest Yoga masters of the 20th century, Swami Sivananda, is the inspiration behind the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. The teachings of Master Sivananda ( photo on right) are summarized in these six words: Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize. ( Source: Continue reading “Yoga at its Best:Sivananda Ashram”

Science & Technology

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 jointly shared by Chinese, American and Japanese

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

with one half jointly to

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura
for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites

and the other half to

Youyou Tu
for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria

Diseases caused by parasites have plagued humankind for millennia and constitute a major global health problem. In particular, parasitic diseases affect the world’s poorest populations and represent a huge barrier to improving human health and wellbeing. This year’s Nobel Laureates have developed therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases.

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura discovered a new drug, Avermectin, the derivatives of which have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases. Youyou Tu discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from Malaria.

These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually. The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.

Read the full article here.

Science & Technology

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015

12047030_10206096388226073_8678560525103461817_nMetamorphosis in the particle world

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 recognises Takaaki Kajita in Japan and Arthur B. McDonald in Canada, for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass. The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe.

Around the turn of the millennium, Takaaki Kajita presented the discovery that neutrinos from the atmosphere switch between two identities on their way to the Super-Kamiokande detector in Japan.

Meanwhile, the research group in Canada led by
Arthur B. McDonald could demonstrate that the neutrinos from the Sun were not disappearing on their way to Earth. Instead they were captured with a different identity when arriving to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory.

A neutrino puzzle that physicists had wrestled with for decades had been resolved. Compared to theoretical calculations of the number of neutrinos, up to two thirds of the neutrinos were missing in measurements performed on Earth. Now, the two experiments discovered that the neutrinos had changed identities.

Click on the artcile below

Travel & Adventure, Wellbeing & Fitness

Curious Case of Boot Camp: Commando Training to Physical Fitness

aaalistairrene1“Life is either a great adventure or nothing” Helen Keller

This is my first article on Travel and Adventure so as usual we will start with an adventurous video come along with me on an epic not be afraid take my hand as well travel across the highest of mountains to the deepest of the valleys, across blue oceans to dry deserts, across continents & galaxies, across dimensions…This is just the beginning…Take my hand…If i can do it so can everyone in the world…  

The photo above is not from our boot camp. I put it up there because i wanted to highlight the spirit of adventure and loved the essence of the photo.

MultiFit is a fast rising and innovative gym in Pune which uses cross training, Tabata, Bodybuilding and Spinning classes to build endurance and muscles. The gym is presently owned by Sameer, a fitness enthusiast and has some well rounded trainers who are experts in their field.

12039487_657315244411554_4737246778409121552_nThe gym primarily focuses on using your own body to built strength and endurance as compared to other gyms which rely on weights to gain muscle and power. The concept of Tabata also known as High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T), was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. The concept has quickly gained worldwide popularity and with enhanced effects in both aerobic and anaerobic systems. The workout is designed to increase anaerobic system which includes intensive workouts/circuits with minimal interval generally less than 2 minutes. This helps increasing the metabolism since the exercise is performed in excess of 90% heart rate which results in faster fat burning and toning of muscles. Tabata helps in enhanced aerobic and anaerobic systems while traditional gymming helps to boost aerobic system with less effect in anaerobic system.

“A study by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata, who founded Tabata training, found that high intensity training improved VO2 max (or your maximal oxygen consumption)  by about 14%, while anaerobic capacity improved by 28%. These effects will help you shed those extra pounds of fat, while also building lean muscle”. 


Tabata training is a workout that lasts four minutes and 20 seconds with about 10 seconds break. Tabata Training can be done with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or just bodyweight exercises. The workout usually includes 5 repetitions for beginners while advanced members ideally do between 7 to 10 repetitions which would average about an hour.

Th event was organised by MultiFit. One of the innovative features the gym has implemented is JKD training classes by Dhruv who is one of the trainers in MultiFit.

Bruce LeeI fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

What is Jeet Kune Do?

12079483_10156137401065634_360562725124378050_nJeet Kune Do popularly known as Bruce Lee Kung Fu is an eclectic art of fighting designed and perfected by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee is one of the most famous students of the legendary martial arts king IP Man who perfected the art of Wing Chun in modern times. Wing Chun is mother of all martial arts originating from China and according to a legend was invented by a Chinese woman who fought to defend her honour against a lecherous king. Unlike Wing Chun, JKD is an evolving art which features a formless form of martial art which is more vibrant and fluid against opponents especially over a longer range. JKD will be exclusively covered as a martial art with more exclusive features coming up since I grew up idolising the greatest action hero of all time. Going forward there would be a separate section covering up the legendary hero.So do you have it in you to sweat it out? Are you willing to test your endurance? Test your limits. Have the desire to win..In body and mind..

Can you defend and fight like Bruce Lee or Jet Li or have the endurance and strength of Usain Bolt or the new ironman of India Milind Soman. Maybe you like to sweat blood to look like Salman Khan or just he happy to stay fit by running, spinning, practicing yoga and aerobics…The choice is yours…   

What is fitness? Amalgamation of body & mind and for a sound mind you needs a healthy body.

Let the journey begin…
12088471_976571425738990_2536652428421242283_nRecently Multifit organised a boot camp event near Pune, an extensive event of outdoor activities over a period of two days. I was invited to attend the event by Dr. Samir in order to get a perspective of what Multifit is organizing for its members as well as non members. It was two day event with multiple themes which included running, trekking, swimming, kayaking, various obstacle exercises and cycling. The event was brainchild of Samir and Sally and included about 20 participants predominantly men (no surprise there). We left Pune at around 5 am and arrived at around 6.30 am to our campsite.

The campsite is one of the most picturesque places around Pune. Absolutely stunning landscape and headed by dynamic Navin, the place is a must visit for everyone who visits Pune and looking for adventure or solitude. After and immediately went for 7 kms run after a brief warm up. The terrain was very uneven and run included breaks where everyone did burpees and ran up and down the steps of a nearby temple. As soon I started to run, I immediately felt uncomfortableCampsitee with my back aching realizing the difference between running on treadmill and on hard hilly terrain. I am a slow starter but tend to adapt and reinvent myself. After the run everyone headed for a stupendous breakfast which included nutritious south Indian food, bread, eggs and the other usual. After a brief rest everyone headed to the lake (backwater of Andhra Dam). The lake was visually refreshing with cold sparkling water and we all swam across wearing our life jackets splashing around. Post our rendezvous at the lake we all refreshed, rested for a while, had another heavy meal and after a brief rest headed for trekking. ( Right side pic campsite main dining hall)

 Trekking: Denmark in India 

Everyone went for a trek12046666_657122324430846_2604623536881479225_n into the mountain nearby. The mountain has thick undergrowth of grass due to the rains and this made the trek particularly tricky and slippery. At some places the slope of the mountain was very steep and we had to clutch the grass to walk to the top. We all made it however there was some causality on the way due to treacherous path. Sally twisted her ankle while descending down from the hill. The view from the top of the mountain was mind boggling, riveting and splendid. Misty mountains, cold breeze and lush green surrounding had a very soothing effect on everyone.

(Inset Samir with The Dude..Windmills in the background) For me it was a déjà vu, the surrounding mountains had number of windmills along a line reminiscent of Denmark known for breathtaking visuals and pristine wind mills. I nicknamed the trek as Denmark in India which everyone loved and joked around. The following conversation took place with some of my fellow adventurers…

The Dude: Wow the look is stunning here…it’s as if we are in Denmark without physically being present in Denmark. It’s as if it is Denmark in India… Everyone: HAHAHA… Loud Laughter… The Dude: You know money cannot buy everything but for else there is a??? Dhruv: MasterCard…The Dude: No credit card… Everyone: HAHAH Loud Laughter(Dhruv was correct since it is the punch line from MasterCard advertisement but as usual I had improvised a bit)

unnamed (1)As we all headed back, it was evening and we all were exhausted. I was feeling happy, cheerful and elated since this was my first trek in more than 20 years and it felt so good.  The surroundings were visually stimulating and it was fun with everyone enjoying at the same time we all were very exhausted. It was time to hog and hit the bed after a very exhausting day of exercises testing your endurance. My back felt a bit better with tell tale signs of blisters on my soles.  All of us went to our tents which included cosy beds and as I was lying on my bed I reflected back on the activities of the day. I analysed my performance in the morning run and wondered if inadequate warm up along with my lack of experience of running in nature had resulted in my woeful experience. We all had a very early start at 5am next day and it was good idea to rest since recovery is one of the most important functions to build strength and endurance. acoomodation-swiss-tent1I remembered wise Confucius words “Our greatest glory is in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” and “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”. I had my strategy for the next day

Day 2

6 am: Middle Path: Accept..Adapt..Reinvent..Innovate…Run Nish Run…Run Nish Run…

When i got up at 5 am next morning, I was a bit skeptical whether it would be advisable to run since I still had back pain lingering from the previous day. I am a tenacious little guy and decided to go all out. I had a well laid out strategy and once I decide on something, I adapt, reinvent and implement the best way possible. I decided to start very slow and to keep running consistently without any stoppages. We were around 15 down 5 from the previous day since some of them had sustained injuries and we all started with few stretches. I started running very slow initially to warm up my body and knew everyone will have to run 8 kms including the very exhaustive climb of long steps to the top of a temple with 5 repetitions. I decided to go very slow, conserve my energy and give my best in the last two kms. Work smart and not hard is what I had taught my students in SIBM when I had taught there). It’s time to use my mind and implement it on the ground…The Mantra was to run slowly but consistently without stopping.
11254572_981504485245684_8248110405536043422_nEveryone ran in full steam and I was left behind as usual. But that did not bother me at all since I was expecting this. I started very slowly which was more of a stride and slowly accelerated as the time went by. After 10 minutes I was totally alone with no one in sight but I slowly accelerated without any concern. I wanted to compete with myself and did not stray from my plan. After 15 minutes I was still alone with no one in sight but no worries. I was very happy with myself since I had run without stopping once and the back pain was miraculously gone. Lesson one if you make a holistic resolution to compete to the best of your abilities, the nature is bound to help you.   At about 20 min I saw the first person, a tall friendly bloke who was struggling with breath and I soon overtook him. One up. Soon I came across a couple, a young girl and another youngster and slowly overtook them. During all this time I gradually increased my pace and refrained from sudden bursts. It helped me since I was not out of breath and my heart rate slowly increased, making me less thirsty and out of breath. I came in fourth and was pleasantly surprised at myself since I had outperformed my benchmark by a mile…Confucius works…No wonder China had excelled as compared to so many other civilizations. So what were the takeaways from this experience?

First accept the situation. I had accepted that something was not right and once you accept then you analyse. Reinvented myself with a new strategy and implemented it in an innovative manner. Set realistic targets, keep faith in yourself since you know the best about yourself and work consistently towards your goal in a consistent manner.

After another heavy lunch, everyone headed for the best part of the boot camp which were obstacles designed by the campsite. There were a wide variety of fun adventurous games including Burma Bridge; army swings across trenches including crawl through which I completed in record time, walking across a pool of water balancing on two ropes etc.

12096099_981502925245840_8654032964679194897_nThe Burma Bridge was a bit of an enigma for me since I was the only one who did not manage to cross the bridge. I courageous started but somehow lost focus in the middle of my adventure.  It was very hilarious since I lost balance at least twice and tried to regain my composure before deciding that I wanted to come back.

I would upload the video recording of this soon…

The fun part was the exchange below with one of the trainers at Multifit. The person in charge of Burma Bridge had recommended me to use my feet in small steps with toes pointed in outward direction while i did something else.

Annavi:  What went wrong? The Dude: I innovated. Annavi:  What do you mean? Did you follow the instructor’s instructions, his  way to cross the bridge and was it correct?  The Dude:  Yes the instructor way was correct. Annavi: So why did you fail?    The Dude: Because I followed my way…

HAHAHA…Laughter all around. Everyone present was hysterical and agreed they had great entertainment….Remember the great Nikola Tesla who said “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that would not work”

I forgot to write in my introduction on my website, about my talent for witty one liners but hey no worries. Another person who creatively used one-liners was Samir who marshalled his team of trainers in a very efficient manner along with fun. The obstacles were the most fun since everyone unwinded and played pranks on each other… fun all around. The gold medalists were Dhruv and Annavi who both tried to outplay each other mischievously. Annavi tried her best to foil Dhruv’s attempt to cross the pool of water using the two ropes to dis-balance him. Annavi in spite of her best efforts couldn’t thwart Dhruv’s effort thanks to Dhruv’s muscularity and strength especially in the arms. Both Dhruv and Annavi are best of friends and you could consider them as Batman (Dhruv) and Robin (Annavi) with Annavi as Dhruv’s sidekick. It was nice to see kids have fun.
The end of day activity was cycling among the hilly terrain for 40 kms. I was too exhausted then..give me a break i had no Kit Kat and my protein bars were exhausted... I followed the same strategy which I had used in the morning for my run and again succeeded in finishing my race although I was last among the cyclists who finished the race successfully. Remember change is constant… 12122638_981503371912462_4313089652077554449_nWhat worked for one event might not work for all the events…customise. I had started with the aim to finish the race and had no desire to do much. My blister in my heel was hurting a lot and I decided to enjoy the view while riding. What a view? I will always remember the waterfalls falling down from the mountain with mist rising from the peaks, as I cycled across the mountains. The ride was exhilarating, adventurous and straight out of a Hollywood flick. I had always desired to go on a trip like this and my desire was fulfilled. It was wonderful to see the faces of small children smiling, giggling as I rolled past them. Kodak Moment, worth a thousand ships. I briefly stopped at a small dwelling in chirpanni for water and chatted with everyone around. It felt great to meet simpletons from far distant places and connect with them on a personal level. In the end the destination does not matter but the ride to the destination is the most important. If the ride is full of miserly then reaching the destination is a pyrrhic victory while if the journey is enjoyable filled with fun then you have already won a decisive victory.

The memory of this trip will linger in my memory for some time and surely plan to visit the place again. This was one of my very few trips in life focused on adventure and leisure since I have mostly traveled on spiritual trips. Is it right to always travel only to spiritual or religious places??? My mother brought me up in a very puritan manner where there was a very limited concept of leisure. I remember as a kid my trips with parents were mostly limited to Hindu religious places??? Is it The Middle Path??? Is not deviating from the moderate path??? Is it right to do too much of anything??? Is not fitness and adventure a way of connecting with your inner self??? It is a point worth looking and pondering at…

12107092_657122657764146_2285667112201085668_nThe boot camp was an amazing experience, although everyone was barely alive at the end of the event but at the same time everyone was happy, invigorated and refreshed. I personally felt very good since the location; facilities and event were top class and sincerely hope this trend continues going forward. Fitness should not be only limited to weight training but should encompass a whole gamut of outdoor exercises. Great initiative to organize the boot camp, maybe it might be a paradigm shift for other fitness centers to follow. Keep it up and well done.

Let’s 36 hours everyone ran 14 kms in rugged hilly terrain, trekked to the top of a mountain covering about 10 kms, bicycled 45 kms, done at least 50 burpees, about 50 push ups, ran to and fro on steps of a very high temple, some of us swam at least 400m and ventured on many obstacles…It was commando training, exhausting but at the same time exhilarating. A different experience and perspective…

12107270_981505635245569_3443077162174781388_nTo wrap up I wanted to recap one of my cameos with Chai from Multifit on day 1. It was raining like cats and dogs and both of us did 20 burpees, 30 push ups and 10 squats continuously without any breather in full view of tourists … And I shouted…You aren’t fit if you are not a member of Multifit.

Maybe that’s the new slogan for Multifit gym. There was a prize distribution ceremony in the end for the top three participants but I feel all were winners who competed in the spirit of sports an displayed sportsmanship . 

If you are not…It’s Alright Alright Alright, I am myself a member of Gold’s Gym…

The biggest takeaway was that I am still very fit but there is lot of room for improvement. I realized I love to run and plan to focus on outdoor running for the rest of the month apart from 400 push ups. Come on Nish you can do it…

The article is dedicated to the spirit of adventure, to the spirit of fitness, to the spirit of exploration and to the spirit of well-being…

Next article on Gold Gym and an exclusive inside take on a master from bodybuilding industry…and of course Yoga

Coming Soon…The Dude will soon start applying for his PhD and start his career as an author…

Wish The Quintessential Dude Luck…