OSC study explores retail investor responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

For Immediate Release OSC

TORONTO – Investors have been confronted with unprecedented uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding how the pandemic is affecting retail investor experiences and behaviours is key to protecting investors.

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today released a new study finding that nearly half of investors are experiencing increased levels of stress, most have had communication with their advisors, and few have sold more than 20% of their portfolios during the pandemic.

“We are seeing increased retail investor participation in equity markets during the pandemic,” said Tyler Fleming, Director of the Investor Office at the OSC. “The Ontario Securities Commission is closely monitoring retail investor experiences and behaviours during this time to support our investor protection mandate.”

The study has several findings, including:

  • Investment stress: 47 per cent of investors are experiencing increased levels of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Holding investments: 85 per cent of investors have held all of their investments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Selling investments: Investors with low financial knowledge were the most likely to sell 20% or more of their investments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Working with an advisor: 81 per cent rated the advice they received from their advisor about investing during the COVID-19 pandemic positively.
  • Do-it-yourself investors: 60 per cent of self-directed investors do so in part because they enjoy managing their own investments.
  • Difficulty in understanding investments: 68 per cent of investors experience at least one challenge to understanding their investments.
  • Financial knowledge: 61 per cent of Canadian investors have medium financial knowledge, with 23 per cent having high financial knowledge.
  • Frauds and scams: 10 per cent of investors believe that they are likely to lose money to an investment fraud or scam and only 2 per cent reported that they have already lost money to a fraud or scam.

The full survey findings are available online at InvestorOffice.ca.

The OSC conducted a survey of nearly 2,000 Canadians between March 30 and April 11, 2020 to further its understanding of the retail investor experience in Canada. Given the unique point in time, the OSC asked investors about their actions and attitudes related to investing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings will be used to inform further work to understand the impact of the pandemic on retail investors.

Visit GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca  for helpful resources about your finances and investments during the pandemic or to learn more about working with an advisor, understanding your investments, avoiding investment fraud and other topics covered by the survey.

The mandate of the OSC is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair and efficient capital markets and confidence in the capital markets, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk.  Investors are urged to check the registration of any persons or company offering an investment opportunity and to review the OSC investor materials available at http://www.osc.gov.on.ca.


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