The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t just change the way in which we live, it has also changed the way we’re investing. What the recent GameStop-WallStreetBets debacle has shown is that individual investors (also known as Retail Investors) armed with technology have power – power that has existed long ago, yet remained largely untapped.
This is now the New Normal of investing, as Edward Stanislaus, managing director of stock market data analytics portal ShareInvestor, points out. Just between March 2020 to February 2021, over 289,772 new CDS individual trading accounts have been opened on Bursa Malaysia.
The increase in domestic retail investors in 2020 brought the retail average daily trading value (ADTV) up by 236% to 1.6 billion – the highest retail ADTV to have been recorded in Bursa Malaysia’s history.
Enabling the new breed of savvy Retail Investors
This, in many ways, isn’t surprising to Edward. The proverbial wave has long been surging, with him surfing on top. On a collective basis, ShareInvestor’s educator partners’ three-day investment bootcamps, held every quarter, are attended by 4,000 to 5,000 adult participants, each willingly paying between RM3,000 to RM6,000 to attend just to learn investing strategies and improve financial literacy. ShareInvestor role is to enable the new breed of savvy investors.
“This is not a fad, but a growing trend that’s here to stay,” Edward says, adding that the phenomenon isn’t constrained to Malaysia – US households bought roughly US$211 billion in individual stocks last year, the New York Times reported, with retail trading accounting to almost as much volume as mutual funds and hedge funds combined.
This places ShareInvestor squarely in the centre of this status quo shake-up. The 20-year old tech company has been providing not just stock market information and news to its users, but the tools and knowledge for people to become retail investors.
“The democratisation of technology has made it possible for people to have easy access not just to information, but also to analytics which is now able to provide people with intelligence to take action,” he says.
“We can make better, well-informed independent decisions because of technology. Now, truly everyone has the access to almost the same power as the likes of Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs.”
Learning the right way
Essentially, technology has democratised investing for everyone. The challenge now is to democratise the knowledge to tap into this technology. This is something Edward understands.
“Very few people have the innate ability to go solo and be successful. Just like going to college or university to learn, people need to attend a course on investing that’s conducted by credible educators,” he says.
He would know. Edward himself attended his first investment bootcamp only in 2019, and describes it as an eye-opening experience.
“Before attending my first investment bootcamp, I can admit that I was merely speculating based on news or simply gambling based on rumour. And the negative balance of my portfolio reflected this,” he confesses.
In short, even investment veterans need to invest in knowledge. Edward has long been entrenched in investment and finances. Prior to joining ShareInvestor in September 2019, Edward spent 22 years with The Edge, a financial media group, being part of the team that launched both the Malaysian and Singaporean publications.
Edward has also been an active investor in Bursa Malaysia and the Singapore Stock Exchange over the past 15 years. “As such I am totally at home when it comes to investing in the stock market. But honestly, the power of data analytics only became real for me after I joined ShareInvestor,” he says.
“It is only now that I can say I’m savvier than I’ve ever been before.”
Investing in the future
Pairing knowledge and technology-driven tools is one way to become a retail investor. Still, Edward stresses the importance of people in the process. With access to ShareInvestor’s BursaStation, WebPro & SI Station platforms, investors can make informed decisions and trade stocks via their smartphones and computers independently.
While ShareInvestor is, by and large, a tech company, it is ultimately driven by people and knowledge. Edward says that the company has 22 full time staff comprising stock market research and data analysts, systems engineers, apps developers and website designers. They also collaborate with Investment Educators who use their platforms to teach.
Apart from collaborating with leading educators to provide ongoing Investor Education for retail investors, they also provide Online Investor Relations Services for public limited companies (PLCs), for whom they provide interactive cutting-edge website design, maintenance and uploading of their IR announcements. For some of these companies, ShareInvestor even provides website hosting services.
It’s a formula which works. According to Edward, ShareInvestor has subscribers who has been with them for over eight years, and are willing to pay for access to their platforms despite the availability of free platforms.
Edward, and ShareInvestor, are now at the precipice of another shift. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought its own New Normal for the company – the movement control order (MCO) has prevented ShareInvestor’s presence at physical Investor Education courses. But it’s also an opportunity – Edward notes that the smarter investors have deployed part of their money from their savings/FD accounts into the stock market to generate better returns compared to the low interest.
At the same time, the pandemic brought investment opportunities in glove, tech, pharmacy, logistics and telco industries. “We faced a huge subscription demand for our stock market data analytics platforms,” Edward remarks.
ShareInvestor is now investing for the future. Edward notes that the company faced challenges in accommodating the “incredible surge” in traffic, something they have tackled by expanding their bandwidth and of late, migrating to Amazon’s AWS cloud services.
“With that achieved, we will focus on providing more data analytics features and a better mobile experience for our subscribers,” he says.
Investing is about looking ahead – understanding trends, preparing for storms, and being rational and safe. It would seem that ShareInvestor is making all the right investments.
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