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Anto Joseph

Gamblers, day traders, and smart investors

By Anto Joseph
4 minute read

The ongoing volatility in sharemarkets has attracted plenty of first-time investors and wannabe day traders looking to cash in on wild swings in equity valuations.

One of the biggest stories to come out of the COVID-19 crisis has been the significant uptick in first-time investors. This was highlighted in a report by ASIC in early May. The regulator conducted securities market analysis in Australia using a focus period from 24 February 2020 (the first trading day after the market peak) to 3 April 2020. The benchmark period used for comparison is the six months prior (22 August 2019 to 21 February 2020).

ASIC’s analysis found that the average daily securities market turnover by retail brokers increased from $1.6 billion in the benchmark period to $3.3 billion in the focus period.

Even more compelling was the evidence of trading by new or dormant accounts, which ASIC calls “new identifiers”. An average of 4,675 new identifiers appeared per day in the focus period. To put that into perspective, during the benchmark period, ASIC observed 1,369 new identifiers per day.


The rate of creation of new trading accounts during the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis was 3.4 times higher than usual.

ASIC also found that trading frequency spiked during the period. The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively created a new breed of unsophisticated day traders eager to buy and sell the intraday price fluctuations of listed securities.

Losing streak  
“The average retail investor was not proficient at predicting short-term market movements over the focus period,” ASIC report noted.

“For more than two-thirds of the days on which retail investors were net buyers, their share prices declined over the next day. For more than half of the days on which retail investors were net sellers, their share prices increased over the next day. If all retail investors held their positions for only one day, total losses would have amounted to over $230 million.”

Short-term trading might be a fun way to gamble, but it is by no means a prudent form of investing. Poor market timing can be catastrophic. Particularly in volatile markets.

Day traders and gamblers play an extremely risky game. For investors, there are much smarter options to make volatile markets work in your favour.

Clarity of risk and return
Risk and return are the fundamentals of investing in any asset class. The more clarity an investor has on their risk and return, the better equipped they are to make informed investment decisions.

Throwing wild bets at the market may work when share prices are rallying. But as we have seen in recent weeks, markets remain incredibly volatile and linked to an ever-changing news cycle.

The economic impact of COVID-19 remains unknown. Infection rates have started to rise again in Victoria, and we have already seen tighter lockdown measures imposed as a result. Smart investors demand more certainty than ever and are looking for ways to navigate this volatility.

Structured products provide greater certainty of risk and return. The product is linked to a basket of blue-chip bank shares that have strong revenues, market share, balance sheet and the ability to withstand further shocks to the economy. An investor’s capital is only at risk if the shares fall by 40 per cent from current levels and this is only measured at maturity. 

Unlike direct equities, ETFs and hybrids, structured products are purpose-built around investment themes and provide significant downside protection.

As volatility persists, gamblers and day traders will continue to blindly play the stock market in the hope of winning big. Smart investors have their money in structured products, where risk and reward are clear.

Anto Joseph, CEO of Stropro