France’s AMF study shows record inflow, activity by retail investors

abdelaziz Fathi

A study conducted by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) showed that the pandemic spurred a flood of new retail investors into the stock market in 2021.

The fifth edition of the AMF’s Active Retail Investor Dashboard saw a record inflow of new private investors, taking the overall number of individuals with brokerage accounts to 1.1 million over the last three years.

Retail investors’ activity just wrapped up a record year in 2021, with 1.6 million accounts carrying out at least one transaction on shares, a 19% increase compared with a year earlier. In the quarter just ended, 743,000 traders placed at least one order to buy or sell shares. The figure was in line with previous quarters, with the exception of the second quarter when volumes were boosted by IPOs, the AMF said.

Other highlights show that retail trading volumes more than doubled in the last two years compared  to the turnover observed in 2018 and 2019. This came as market volatility and Covid lockdowns created a unique opportunity for regular investors to play the stock market’s unprecedented rally.

Specifically, retail investors’ stock transactions were almost 13 million in the Q4 2021 and over 55 million trades for the whole year. These annual volumes match those achieved in 2020 when many French turned to trading as the central banks slashed rates to record lows, making banks’ deposits less attractive.

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A big part of this growth was driven by first-time investors. However, the AMF found that these new investors are not just young people, they are also those elder but discovering investing for the first time.

In particular, the AMF survey showed that 217,000 had never placed a stock market order before or had been inactive since January 2018. The flow of new investors remained steady but seems to have levelled off at around 50,000 per quarter, the AMF notes.

Retail investing had been on the rise even before the Covid-19 crisis hit the world. But the novel virus gave just the push required to send young investors to the financial markets.

AMF recommends that traders seeking to invest in France do so only with financial institutions authorized to do business in the country. Further, the AMF warns market participants that “any unauthorized intermediaries run the risk of criminal sanctions” and advises against responding to offers from any broker on the published lists.

Any financial intermediary offering or recommending investments must be on the list of financial institutions authorized to do business in France, as can be verified via www.regafi.fr. A list of authorized intermediaries in additional investor adviser categories can be accessed on orias.fr/search.

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