Spike in amateur investors during level 4 lockdown

During the level 4 lockdown, for the first time ever amateur investors were more active on the stock market than professional investors.

It's largely down to the easier access brought by new trading platforms.

Today your average investor's becoming more and more average.

"During lockdown level 3 and 4 I was doing a bunch of short-term trades," says investor Jake Bowling.

"If there's another drop I'd like to get involved in buying some low-price shares."

Amateur traders like Bowling are known as 'retail' investors. Professionals are 'wholesale' investors. And now the amateurs are giving the pros a run for their money.

Between February and May last year there were only about 14,000 retail purchases each week.

But this year during the level 4 lockdown, amateur investing absolutely skyrocketed to 214,000 in the second week of April.

"During lockdown especially I was pretty much just eying up the price of a single share for like the whole day," Bowling says.

"[I was] pretty obsessed with it, lockdown's been pretty helpful towards it."

And comparing the amateurs to the professionals, April was the first time ever that retail investors traded more than wholesale investors.

The reasons are numerous. Investment managers say KiwiSaver's made us more aware of shares and the market's been all over the news.

"There's a lot of talk about 'where's the value, when should we buy?' And of course it's so much easier to do now, people don't have to set up the traditional brokerage accounts," says JMI Wealth director Andrew Kelleher.

Companies like Sharesies facilitate amateur investing. While it took three years to reach the 95,000 users they had at the start of COVID, the lockdown saw a boom.

"Now that's about 165,000, so really seen a lot of growth - a couple of thousand per day at times," Sharesies co-founder Leighton Roberts told Newshub.

There's so much new trading the NZX is upgrading.

"It's certainly increased very very quickly upon us and it's actually an area where we're making some investment in our technology to increase our capacity," says NZX CEO Mark Peterson.

But while the amateurs are trading more, data shows they're still spending comparatively much less in that April peak - they spent a fifth of what wholesale investors did.

So Bowling's not about to move any markets.

"I'm just keen to accumulate savings essentially man, that's mainly the reason why I'm investing."

But the market has moved into the hands of everyday Kiwis.