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Covid gains fade for small investors

Retail investors have seen their gains since the onset of the pandemic all but wiped out in the midst of a torrid year on global markets.

The average private investor’s holding was up just 0.38 per cent since January 2020 by the end of September this year, according to an index produced by a leading investment platform.

That performance is only marginally better than that of the FTSE 100, which finished last month up 0.34 per cent on the start of 2020. It has declined 8.6 per cent this year.

Interactive Investor’s performance index, which tracks users with assets of at least £20,000, underlined the impact of stock declines this year. Its average customer was down 1.8 per cent in three months, 9.9 per cent in six and 13 per cent in nine.

This year’s turbulence has eroded much of the gains recorded during the rally that took hold in equity markets following the Covid sell-off of spring 2020. Fears over the economic outlook continue to weigh on global indices.

Interactive said that its average female customer was up 0.8 per cent since January 2020, while its average male customer was down fractionally by 0.01 per cent. Younger investors had broadly enjoyed the best returns, with the average customer aged 18-24 up 4 per cent over the period, while the average customer over 65 was down 0.65 per cent.

The wealthiest fared best, however. As of last month, the average Interactive customer with a portfolio worth at least £1 million was up 5.78 per cent on January 2020.

Richard Wilson, chief executive of Interactive, said the index was “a timely illustration” of the periods of volatility that had punctuated the stock market’s underlying long-term growth.

Interactive Investor, which was acquired by the FTSE 100 group Abrdn for £1.49 billion this year, has about 400,000 private customers using its service to buy shares and funds.

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