Home / Money / Personal Finance /  Mirae Asset Mutual Fund’s Neelesh Surana completes 15 years as a fund manager and CIO

Neelesh Surana joined Mirae Asset Mutual Fund in January 2008. The stock market had been in a bull run since 2003 and this new fund house was all set to launch its first scheme. Little did Surana or his colleagues know what was about to hit them. Their maiden scheme - Mirae Asset India Opportunities (today’s Mirae Asset Large Cap Fund) collapsed along with the rest of the market. By March 2009, it was down 43%. The scheme and the broader market recovered in the next couple of years, but the mutual fund industry went into doldrums. Domestic investors - individuals and institutions kept pulling out money till 2014. Foreign investors took the opposite call, but this was of little consolation to an industry focused on managing domestic money.

“We were in bit of survival mode in the first five years of our existence," Surana recounts. Then in 2014, came the historic Modi victory and Surana’s flagship funds - Mirae Asset Large Cap and Mirae Asset Emerging Bluechip got noticed for fairly consistent track record of outperformance. In 2014 alone, these two schemes were up 53% and 85% respectively, massively outperforming the BSE 100’s return of 34%. “I’ve managed equity funds through once in a lifetime sort of events like the Global financial crisis, policy paralysis, demonetization and Covid 19," recounts Surana. His performance dipped slightly in 2018 and 2020 but this was made up in 2019 and 2021. On a 3 and 5 year basis, Mirae continued to be an investor darling. “The only year in which we have underperformed in any significant manner is last year - 2022. This happened for a mix of reasons. We have predominantly growth stocks and 2022 was tough on growth. Simultaneously, our investment in few value stocks like gas utilities got impacted whereas markets rewarded sectors like PSU banks, and defence," he says.

Looking to the future Surana is confident that Mirae fund management team will retain a traditional fundamental investing style despite trends like quantitative investing and artificial intelligence gaining ground. We aim to spot market inefficiencies through deep fundamental research - looking at financial statements and this cannot gel with a quant approach. Over the past 5 years, we’ve focused on putting in place many processes to strengthen the institutional framework which do not make us person-dependent. For example, we have a ‘gatekeeper system’ for compliance of various processes which has additional supervision by our Head-of-equites and head of research rather than everything coming to my desk, Surana adds.

Successful fund managers get poached by larger AMCs, but this didn’t happen with Surana. “After a while, what matters is whether you are enjoying your job. Longevity also carries a premium in our industry," he says. 

Neil Borate
Neil heads the personal finance team at Mint. A former colleague called them 'money nerds' and that's what they are. They cover topics like mutual funds, taxation and retirement, all to improve your chances of building wealth. Neil graduated with a degree in law and economics. He passed the CFA Level I exam and began his writing career at Value Research, a mutual fund research firm in 2016. He joined the personal finance team Mint in 2019. Everyday, the Mint Money Team tackles personal finance questions such as where to invest and where to borrow, through articles, charts and reader queries. They also have a daily podcast - 'Why Not Mint Money' and an annual ranking of mutual funds - the Mint 20.
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