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FMA cautions new investors against piling into the NZX if they haven't done their homework, as its Aussie counterpart proves retail investors trying to time the market are failing miserably

FMA cautions new investors against piling into the NZX if they haven't done their homework, as its Aussie counterpart proves retail investors trying to time the market are failing miserably
Image sourced from Flickr

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is suggesting do-it-yourself investors don’t dive head-first into the share market now, if they haven’t done their homework.

“We would caution against developing a new, untrained, appetite for trading on the NZX during this period of volatility and uncertainty without doing sufficient research,” it said.

The regulator’s warning comes as its Australian counterpart, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), has released a paper ringing the alarm bells over the spike in retail investors chasing quick money.

The FMA hasn’t done such research, but NZX data shows retail investors have been piling into the market.

In fact, the spike in activity caused the NZX’s systems to crash last month. This saw investors experience potentially costly delays buying/selling shares and resulted in EY being brought in to do a review.

This graph shows the severity of the knee-jerk reaction retail investors made in response to COVID-19:

As trade numbers went up, the average value of individual trades went down.

What's more, wholesale investors didn't go on the same spending spree that retail investors went on in April. While wholesale investors sold more than they bought, retail investors bought a lot more than they sold.

ASIC noted trading frequency in Australia has increased rapidly, as has the number of different securities traded per day.

It said retail investors are holding shares for significantly shorter periods of time, indicating a “concerning” increase in short-term and ‘day-trading’ activity.

ASIC found that between February and April, “on more than two thirds of the days on which retail investors were net buyers, their share prices declined the following day.

“On days where retail investors were net sellers, their share prices more likely increased the next day."

ASIC warned: “Even market professionals find it hard to ‘time’ the market in a turbulent environment, and the risk of significant losses is a regular challenge.

“For retail investors to attempt the same is particularly dangerous, and likely to lead to heavy losses – losses that could not happen at a worse time for many families.

“Retail investors chasing quick profits by playing the market over the short term have traditionally performed poorly – in good times and bad - even in relatively stable, less volatile market conditions.”

ASIC found that, “In addition to the increased trading, there was a sharp increase in the number of new retail investors to the market – up by a factor of 3.4 times - as well as a marked increase in the number of reactivated dormant accounts.”

Trends in New Zealand are likely to be similar, with the online share trading platform, Sharesies, gaining 50,000 new users in the past two months, bringing its total number of users up to 150,000.

Sharesies co-founder, Leighton Roberts, said 70% of its new users consider themselves new investors.

Sharesies launched (initially to a limited number of users) in 2017. It has been a gamechanger in the New Zealand market, giving retail investors cost-effective access to the NZX. 

With $370 million under management, users have an average of $2,467 invested.

See this FMA resource for useful information on share trading, and this one for more on partaking in a rights issue.

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"..share trading platform, Sharesies gaining 50,000 new users in the past two months, bringing its total number of users up to 150,000."
50 percent rise in users is roughly similar to the gains sone companies made since late March ... must be something in that. Or just the fact that sharesies have been running lots of tv adverts recently.

50,000 new users. Maybe because TD rates went from 5% to 2.5%? I decided to leave a lot of money out of TDs since my 5% paying TDs came due. But couple of months ago inflation was running around 2.5% giving me approx. 2.5% return. Now inflation will possibly be zero or negative???? Maybe I should think 2.5% TD will give me the same return as 5% a while ago???

Thanks Jenée to bring this issue ATM. We need to protect our young retail investors during this volatile market conditions. New regulation should to be enacted to prevent investors chasing quick money.


Yes lock them out of that market and force them to buy houses instead


Seriously? Are we just going to abdicate all personal responsibility from now on?

Sickening isnt it?

How would you lock them out? Age? Size? Race, size of their bank account? In the end the individuals who choose to enter the stock market must accept responsibility for their own actions. There is an awful lot to be read on how the play the stock markets, and anyone can get there. I ultimately must be down to the individual.

Individual responsibility you say.
Now if that were true there'd be no need for all that money that's being pumped in.

Is that rule 101 from the socialists handbook... we control them through fear of the unknown, by using the eyes of the community to watch and report, and through gifts that gain their trust. After that we rule with an iron fist


I don't see why anyone, ASIC included, should be worried about an increase in share market activity.
I mean, it's baked-in that shares will be higher in a years time than they were before the virus hit. Every expert will tell you so. Every Central Bank will cooperate to make it a secure bet. "Do your homework!" Why? Fundamentals don't matter at all!
So what's the risk? I mean, why should it just be the Big Guys that get to make money out of this once in a generation chance to get richer? (sarc/off)

Given the relatively low portfolio size of 2.5K, the 50k signup in the last couple months and the number of trades of a few (sometimes 1) share I suspect a lot of people had time on their hands and are just playing. It would be interesting to know what proportion of the NZX trades are Sharesies but based on the on market trades of such small parcels it seems like a lot. I hope I don't end up one day placing a limit order and having 1 share trade at the price and be paying more in brokerage than the trade value.....

I have noticed my orders being met in smaller chunks than a year or more ago, but haven't had any problems filling them. If needs by, just adjust your price a little to complete the order, this shouldn't affect your brokerage (certainly doesn't with ASB).

Agree there are far too many tiny trades going through, perhaps in an effort to manipulate the market. Perhaps it's time to bring in board lots as in other markets?

I'm conflicted on this,

On one hand, the FMA does have "Helping investors make better decisions" in it's role, so is probably well placed to be publically advising caution when there is a trend of the opposite.

On the other, I believe everyone who makes up these numbers, knows they are making an investment decision that can go poorly, but is consciously taking a bet, so more power (and likely less money) to them :)

Only shows that people have money to lose.
Because the first rule of shares investement is only invest what you can afford to lose.

Rule 2: Do your own research.
Rule 3: Read the advice of the greats (Graham, Lynch, Buffet etc.) before investing.
Rule 4: Never airlines.

Ah. Now here you go thinking that there is skill attached to share trading.
That'll be your undoing. You'll think about it too much; be cautious with your application of funds, and cut-and-run at the slightest hint of a fall in prices.

The credos of all Central banks is to get everyone out there buying; anything, just like they are. It doesn't matter what it is, just buy it. Then, like magic, inflation will dilute your debts and all will be right in the economic world.
What could possibly go wrong?!

Massive respect to Buffet for his results over time, and the engagement he's helped create in value-seeking, but I don't subscribe to his teachings as they all seem to be either

1) Benjamin Graham recycled (the good stuff) or
2) Adaptations he's had to make, due to the scale of what he's managing, and the lack of value opportunities available to that scale ( the less good stuff, that will never apply to me)

SmoKey, you're confusing share trading with long term investing (buying) into economically significant companies with smart (seriously smart) senior management teams. POT for example.

Every share investor is a trader only, some for the short term gain, others for long term gain, including dividends.
The value of the shares is not realised unless they are sold. Even if one leaves them for the heirs, they may not know how to manage them, or be keen to hold them and may wish to realise their value. Widow's shares are long past their due dates.

Explains why I keep seeing adverts with a millenial or Gen Y in baseball cap and t-shirt stands in front of exotic car and saying things like "You guyz wanna make big gainz from home playin the stock market ma broz?"

The issue with low cost market access platforms like Sharesies and Hatch is that they don't actually do anything to help investors learn about investing. Those platforms are relatively new however and likely to be regulated when enough retail investors lose their shirts.

Au contraire... they do something alright, they run pizza nights for Sharesies members to learn stuff at trendy pubs and get speakers like Linda Clark from Kensington Swan.

Free pizza though...tempted.

Haha yep. I remember seeing a Facebook ad where they were advertising shares as a good way to save for a motorbike and saying to myself, this is going to end in tears.

Hatch does a lot of education and is working on more I hear. I have used them and built some great holdings I wouldn't have had access to otherwise.

Pokies are closed so next best gamble?
Presumably at a average of just over $2000 each it's money they can "afford to loose". It's easy to learn lessons in theory, but they stick really well with practical experience.


Why the concern for share investors when it would appear we want FHB's to have a leveraged gamble on the property market? (no LVR).

Potential loss for a FHB, say in Auckland, could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Potential losses on the share market may only be a few thousand.

Mate haven't you heard? NZ property only goes up so it'll be fine.

And potential property gains of hundreds of thous.. just not in 2020. Share gains f'all.

And potential for leveraged losses far exceeding your original capital. Good thing property only goes up so there's zero risk!

You do seem extremely bothered and tormented by property ownership and seeking to undermine faith in it. You should realise that property is the most trusted and favourite asset of all assets and why do you think that is.

Do you feel any remorse at all outbidding FHB at auction or during the tender process?

I wonder if these people are aware of the tax obligations of such trading

I was just about to post the exact same thing. According to the website Sharesies pays tax but it's the dividend RWT only as far as I can see. If there's enough value involved IRD may get interested.

Pretty sure it's Schroedinger's tax, the obligation only exists if IRD looks.

You're mixing your paradox's

Maybe the tax is only alive or dead if the IRD looks?

A little bit like the housing market under lock-down

Only dividends are taxed not increase in share value at sale. Anyone see a mass of dividends coming up? If you're paying tax, you're making money.

I've just updated the story with a couple more graphs, just FYI. 

Nice graphs. Are these made from publicly available data?

Thanks. The NZX kindly provided the data on request. 

I think... many kiwis have had the suspicion that a recession was long overdue, and were making the effort to build savings, not keep it all in kiwisaver.
The market crash did hit, and at the same time, the last semblance of return from deposits in bank accounts is evaporating.
So, with sharesies and others making it easy and cool to invest, a portion of everyone's savings is going into the NZX very recently. Probably at random times mostly based on the weather or the length of the queue at the supermarket.

50,000 people about to voluntarily give away half their life savings to a hedge fund.

Madness right? This is the effect of low interest rates


On balance, I think this is a good thing. More people are now able to affordably invest, and the idea of investing something other than housing is becoming more commonplace. Plenty of people will get burnt, as plenty of investors always have. At least you can now get burnt by losing your first $50 rather than waiting until you had a few grand to make the brokerage tolerable.

The evidence of day trading is a little concerning. For the few that are successful and make a profit, the IRD will likely come knocking.

Hopefully the NZX will up its game a little to handle the volume.

Some of us have been enviously watching the race to zero brokerage fees in the rest of the world, now it is arriving on our shores investors should be celebrating.

They're not investing, they're gambling as unemployment insurance.

All 150,000 of them? I doubt it. The gamblers are likely to drop off as they lose money and interest, the investors are likely to hang around (unless we get a nasty bear market and scare them off)

Look at the number of trades chart again.

Looks like retail trades have been strongly rising for a year (basically since affordable brokerage arrived). Hard to tell on the graph exactly, but I'd estimate number of retail trades went up 4x in the year before covid made an appearance. Since covid, the chart exploded, but so did the wholesale trades. Everyone trades more when the market is more volatile.

I think the strong rises before covid supports my idea that many of the sharesies crowd (I wouldn't necessarily say most), are investors socking away small amounts into the market on a regular basis. Instead of waiting a few months to build up the 2-3k to make a viable trade through the old brokers, you just make a $100 trade every week. Or why not split your investment and make 5x $20 trades? Sharesies brokerage does not discourage that.

Okay then, go read the comments on any Sharesies post on their Facebook page and come back and tell me if you still think these people have a clue what they're doing.

At no point did I say there aren't some crazy gambles going on. I said there will be some people making solid investments on a small scale which would otherwise have been too expensive with old brokerage models. It is now feasible to have a diverse portfolio even if you only have a few grand, or even a few hundred, to invest.

The people doing this will not be the same ones bragging on facebook about their AIR share returns.

'Losing money' is a good learning curb.

The better learning curve is watching other people lose money and taking away knowledge/experience without taking on undue risk.

They’ve been reading Wall Street Bets - some cracker stories of people making and losing fortunes, usually the latter. The pokies and TAB are basically closed after all...

I just threw my whole revolving credit into AIR. I have a good feeling about it, just like with Bitcoin in Jan 2018.

I think once they've had another taxpayer top-up they'll have plenty of runway. Unlikely taxpayers will ever break even of course but why should poverty and hunger come above an airline to compliment our national train set?

It's ok I live in a moderately priced Kiwibuild home so I can afford the tax hike to pay for any future bailouts.

Just replace NZX with pokey-machine and its no longer and issue for Gov... in fact the NZX is now a place to host foreign dignitaries!

Something lambs something something slaughter.

Getting pretty tired of people slagging off Sharesies. Used to be that you couldn't learn about shares unless you took a minimum $1000 hit. Now anyone can learn by cycling between it and Simplywall st and put in the same amount every week that some people spend on lotto. So you old hands don't like the new paradigm? I always thought the market ran on fear and greed anyway, and its not like no-one never made a profit on a company with poor fundamentals before.

It's a paradigm shift for these old hands who have enjoyed their 30 years of trading success, only to be flabbergasted by the new money entering the market. The number of comments on Sharetrader along the lines of "I just don't understand xxx" and "the value just doesn't make sense to me" indicates the norm has been severely disrupted.

Even I'm struggling to explain current valuations, we are still more than 2SD above trend growth on the S&P 500. Perhaps we need to see the second wave to regress to trend?

Sure. But there are positions between uninformed daily trading and long term buy and hold. And if the company doesn't go bust then unlike lotto or pokies, you get to keep your hand in the game.

Also platforms like Sharesies put a lot of effort into educating their investors - their general message for newbies is to spread the risk, use index funds, think about your timeframes etc.

So for the average millenial who has no chance of getting on the housing ladder, is in kiwisaver anyway and is worried that environmental collapse is going to happen in 15 years time, it makes more sense than drinking, lotto or anything else.

Agreed. All the new online platforms need to put out there is advice that the sharemarket is for long term investing. If anyone decides to proceed anyway then that’s on them. There’s plenty of good material and books on investing in a diversified way. Up to newbies to read it.

If the sharemarket was for long term investing the institutional investors (so called experts) in the USA would not currently be buying hundreds of billions of dollars a day when the Dow should be priced around 16000-18000, not 24000.

Day trading without skills is obviously dumb. If people are trying that and get burned then tough. However it is not the worst time to start to invest for longer terms. Would you prefer people get into the market at the top of a bubble? Now that we have had a full govt control lockdown it seems we have a hammer and everything is looking like a nail. No, sorry you don't get to lock people out of the market. Losing money is part of the education process. Mine started in 1987.

I would not put money in the NZ market right is WAY overpriced given the forward earnings. It is artificially buoyed by government purchases, nothing to do with market forces. When they stop it will drop, and pretty soon. Im back in with a 30-40% drop.
Sharsies is an excellent platform to invest and educate away from the 'stale, pale, male' rip off brokerage fees of NZ trading companies. Just like NZ accountants who think they are worth about 90% more than they actually are for their services....welcome and thank you Sharesies.

Day trading is making a hard come back! I had 4 persons last month who were either bragging about it and trying to evangelise me on the the quick and easy cash. FOMO syndrome in housing is making its way to the stock market. Like sheep coming in for the slaughter, folks in Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are literally cashing in on the simpleton. If it were that simple, there would had been plenty of Buffets in this comment section- since those who were at it were at it for years. But seriously, I still had to thank these goons for helping me to unwind my positions faster than I imagined. Cheerios, enjoy the dreams- they are free!

$12 a week on Sharesies or Lotto?

Nicely said

At $624/year I'll take Sharesies, thanks.

Jenee, if you pull the zoom lens back a little you will also note the recent drops in the cash rate as the RB started to head off the global concerns around Covid when it first emerged in China all those months ago. Term D's are pretty much history as a compounding tool so I'm not suprised the sharemarket has attracted so many new players, probably on the position that even a bad dividend is better than no interest. On the day players, welcome to the rodeo, I'm fairly sure that will die down somewhat once more people go back to work. If it doesn't I think NZX better invest in some increased bandwidth...

yes,now that bonus saving accts have become bogus saving accts then where is the harm in dropping a few dollars in the market?if it is optimism fuelled by ignorance then should we remember the famous story of joe kennedy exiting the market in 1929 when he got stock tips from his shoeshine boy.

Firms like sharesies and hatch are part of a world wide phenomena enabling people to get into the market with small amounts due to fractional shares etc. This is a good thing isn’t it, getting more people interested in shares. Especially if they have been locked out of the property market and savings interest rates virtually at 0%.

Typical example of the fma being part of the nanny state. They are the ones that bought in so many rules and regulations and form filling that legacy brokers aren’t even interested in taking on anyone with less than $10m due to the fma induced compliance costs. Bring it on. This is disruptive technology at its best.

Thats a good point about compliance issues however don't you agree its also good to stop moneylaundering etc which is what those processes have been created for. Hows those panama papers looking JK?