THE Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said online stock market accounts rose 28 percent last year, while trading activity from the segment slightly improved.

Citing its Stock Market Investor Profile Report 2017, online stock-market accounts rose to 388,864 from 302,516 in 2016. Trading activity from these accounts, however, only accounted for 11 percent of total trading value in 2017, a slight increase from 9 percent during the previous year.

Value turnover from online accounts rose by 13 percent to P372.06 billion, from P329.64 billion in 2016.

“Clearly, more and more investors now prefer to trade and invest in the stock market through online trading systems. We hope to further grow the number of stock brokerage firms that offer online trading services so that the stock market becomes even more accessible to everyone,” PSE President and CEO Ramon S. Monzon said.

In terms of total stock market accounts, it increased by 12 percent to 868,810, from the 773,187 in 2016.

The total number of stock market accounts saw a 12-percent increase in retail accounts to 841,532 and a 2-percent rise in institutional investors to 27,278.

Retail and institutional accounts covered 96.9 percent and 3.1 percent of total accounts, respectively.

Meantime, local investors comprised 98.3 percent of the total accounts, while the remaining 1.7 percent consisted of foreign investors.

Male investors slightly edged female at 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent, respectively, while the majority of retail investors were aged 30 to 44. This age group comprised 42 percent of retail investors, followed by those aged 45 to 59 at 26 percent; 18 to 29 at 16 percent; and the 60 and above age range at 15 percent.

Metro Manila still has the most number of retail investors, but its percentage share went down to 64 percent from the previous 70 percent. All three of the country’s major islands showed double-digit growth in terms of their share in the retail-investor count, the PSE said.

Luzon recorded an increase to 20.8 percent from 16.4 percent, while the Visayas registered a growth to 8 percent from 6 percent and, finally, Mindanao posted a 4.5-percent rise from 3 percent. The share of overseas retail investors, meanwhile, declined to 2.3 percent from 3.9 percent.

“I attribute the growth in retail investors outside Metro Manila to the streamlined account-opening processes of online stockbrokerage firms. I also think the broker-expo feature of our very successful road shows in Davao and Iloilo last year helped bump up the numbers because road show attendees were able to open stock-market accounts with stockbrokerage firms at the event venue,” Monzon said. Retail investors with an annual income of P500,000 or less represented 42 percent of investors in 2017. Investors earnong P500,000 to P1 million and those who had an annual income of more than P1 million accounted for 34 percent and 23 percent of total retail investors, respectively.

“Admittedly, we have more ground to cover. We hope that through our continued market education initiatives, as well as the marketing efforts of our accredited stockbrokers, we will be able to encourage more individuals, based here or abroad, to invest in our stock market,” Monzon said.

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