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More retail investors joining Singapore stock market

According to the Singapore Exchange, over 68,000 new share trading accounts were added in the last 12 months and a record 52 per cent of accounts had holdings.

SINGAPORE: More retail investors have been entering the stock market over the past year.

According to Singapore Exchange (SGX), over 68,000 new share trading accounts were added in the last 12 months, bringing the total to 1.6 million accounts. A record high of 844,000, or 52 per cent of accounts, had holdings.

Singapore Exchange said its stock trading school - the SGX Academy - has reached 85,000 people so far in the current financial year. This is more than double the 30,000 people it had, a year earlier. But SGX wants to do more to spread the word on stocks and shares.

Out of the 3 million-odd working population in the country, SGX said two in three are not in the stock market. SGX said there are a few common reasons why people do not dabble in stocks - they do not know how to start, do not know where to start, or do not have the time and money.

Lynn Gaspar, head of retail investors at SGX, said: "The stock market is a good alternative for people to be able to come in and invest in a higher-yielding asset. It's not without risk, but it's where it is transparent, because you can see the value of the asset that you're investing in. You can make those decisions and there's also liquidity."

SGX is leveraging a locally-developed mobile application, called TradeHero, which lets novice investors experiment with stock trading risk-free, using virtual currency.

According to SGX, half of new investors opening accounts are young adults in their 20s and 30s.

David Gerald, president and chief executive of Securities Investors Association Singapore (SIAS), said: "Opening accounts does not really mean that every client who opens an account is trading or investing. Yes, there has been an increase in the retail participation over the last three years. But since 2013, there has been a 4 per cent drop."

SIAS said some investors who have been burnt by the 2013 penny stocks crash, which wiped out some S$8 billion in market value, may be shying away from risk. It is calling for more stock advisory tools to be made available, so investors can make informed decisions to enter the market with confidence. 

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