Thursday, August 2, 2012

SGX, SIAS to take investing to the masses

In its bid to woo retail investors, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday unveiled a tie-up with the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) (SIAS) to take financial literacy to the heartland.

SGX said investment seminars, to be jointly conducted by both organisations, would help more Singaporeans to have a secure financial future.

Emphasising the importance of learning to invest, SIAS president and CEO David Gerald said: "In my time, during the 1970s and '80s, you could leave your savings in the bank's fixed deposit and comfortably get over 15 per cent interest per annum. These days, you are lucky if your fixed deposit rate is over one per cent."

Of the 1.5 million Central Depository (CDP) accounts, only 10,000- 15,000 trade every day, compared with 40,000 during the 2007 bull run, said SGX.

"We think it's very important for us to focus on retail investors, help the education process, to turn our nation of occasional speculators and savers into regular investors," said SGX executive vice-president Chew Sutat. "Only then can they make their money work harder for them, to meet their future retirement needs."

Singapore's active retail investor participation rate of 8 per cent pales in comparison with Australia's 17 per cent and Hong Kong's 25 per cent, SGX data shows.

In recent years, the exchange has introduced measures to boost retail investing, including tightening the minimum bid-ask spreads for selected counters, cutting transaction costs for investors, and launching an investor education portal called My Gateway.

The portal now has more than 100,000 subscribers, said SGX.

Having more retail investors helps to raise liquidity in the stock market, which in turn draws in more investors and perpetuates a robust and vibrant trading cycle.

The first joint initiative by SGX and SIAS - the inaugural Singapore Investment Week 2012 - will enable members of the public to learn more about investing through investment seminars, online videos and radio programmes from Aug 25 to 31. SGX also launched an online investing competition, StockWhiz, which it hopes will be an effective platform for investors to test their newfound knowledge.

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