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  • Writer's pictureTikona Capital

Overcoming Denial and Fear as the Market Reaches New Heights

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

In quest of sharing investment wisdom with our clients and prospective investors, here is our article in Market Moguls which is an an elite platform, where the who's who of Indian financial markets blog on investment wisdom, strategies and challenges of investor interest. In this article, we explore the psychological hurdles that investors face as the market reaches unprecedented highs. As the numbers on stock tickers soar, it's only natural for doubts and fears to emerge, leading to denial and hesitation.


Investors are often hesitant and fearful of investing when the market nears new all-time highs, despite being opportunistic during market downturns. This behavior could be attributed to denial and fear caused by past losses and cognitive biases. Overcoming these biases requires analyzing the present market situation objectively and seeking professional advice from experienced portfolio managers.

Complete Article at ET Market Moguls

The Nifty50 is merely 3% away from its all-time highs, leaving many investors gripped by fear and denial. India's strong post-COVID performance, with some recent underperformance, Japanese and European markets have reclaimed their previous highs, while the US and Chinese markets are still on the path to recovery.

Interestingly, while most opportunistic investors eagerly await market downturns like COVID or the Global Financial Crisis to invest large sums, they often hesitate to enter the market when it is near to new all-time highs.

With over 15 years of experience as a seasoned portfolio manager in the Indian equity markets, I have observed a recurring pattern among investors: reluctance and fear when confronted with market highs. This behaviour is both intriguing and worth exploring, as it holds valuable insights into the psychology of investment decision-making.

Throughout this blog, I will delve into this phenomenon, drawing from my professional experience, the wisdom imparted by my mentors, and insights from renowned books on investment psychology.

Denial: The Burden of Past Losses

Investors frequently find themselves in a state of denial when markets achieve new highs and struggle to accept the current rally. This hesitation might be related to the weight of prior losses that continue to weigh on their minds.

Sir John Templeton rightly observed, "The investor who says, 'This time is different,' when in fact it's practically a repeat of an earlier situation, has uttered among the four most costly words in the annals of investing."

Investors must examine the current market environment objectively to overcome denial, as opposed to letting their prior experiences control them.

Fear: The Lingering Shadow of Market Corrections

When markets reach new highs, investors often find themselves gripped by fear, struggling to embrace the current rally. This reluctance can be attributed to the burden of past losses that still linger in their minds.

Warren Buffett's wise words resonate: "The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient." Fear can impair judgment and cause missed opportunities. Overcoming denial requires investors to analyse the present market conditions objectively, rather than being held captive by their past experiences.

Lessons from Behavioural Finance

Insights into the emotional biases that affect investor behaviour are relevant from the perspective of behavioural finance. In his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," Daniel Kahneman demonstrates how cognitive biases influence our judgment.

Confirmation bias, for instance, may cause investors to seek evidence that supports their previous views, reinforcing their fear and denial. To successfully navigate the financial landscape, it is crucial to be aware of these biases and develop a disciplined approach based on in-depth study.

The Power of Knowledge and Education

Knowledge and education help reduce investor fear and denial. Gaining knowledge of market cycles, historical trends, and the principle of diversification increases confidence in making investment decisions.

As Peter Lynch advises in his book "Beating the Street," "the key to making money in stocks is to not get scared out of them." By continuing to study and stay informed, investors can build the resilience needed to face their fears and seize market opportunities.

Embracing Rationality: Seeking Professional Guidance

Overcoming denial and fear can be challenging for investors. Seeking professional guidance from experienced portfolio managers can provide a balanced perspective and help navigate the complexities of the market.

As Burton G. Malkiel, the author of "A Random Walk Down Wall Street," writes, investing should be more like watching paint dry or grass grow. For excitement, go to Las Vegas with $800. Relying on professionals with a proven track record can instill confidence and alleviate fears associated with market highs.


While the timing of market bottoms and tops can only be determined in hindsight, we firmly believe that India, as a country, is currently experiencing a transformative phase known as the "AMRITKAAL" period. This period is characterized by several drivers and enablers, including widespread technology adoption, healthy balance sheets, and strong corporate as well as political leadership.

These factors lay the foundation for sustained growth and indicate that the markets are likely to remain constructive, even as they continue to hit new highs.

As we navigate this transformative period, staying informed, adapting to changing market conditions, and seeking guidance from experienced professionals can empower investors to make informed decisions.

While uncertainties may persist, the underlying factors supporting India's growth trajectory provide a solid foundation for investors to participate in the market's journey and capitalize on the opportunities it presents for long-term success in high-flying markets.

Sumit Poddar

Chief Investment Officer & Smallcase Portfolio Manager

Tikona Capital

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