How small investors can make it big
HONGKONG investors' eagerness to participate in the stock exchange, makes it appear one can keep abreast of market developments with ease.
The institutions can. Financial information from Reuters and other sources is available at the touch of button.
But this is not true of most retail investors, particularly those caught in the sandwich class.
''The problem is, if you're small no-one wants to know you,'' suggested one broker.
Brokers court institutions and individuals of high net worth with alacrity. Not so the small investor, from whom commissions offer the broker little incentive to serve.
In fact, only a few of the larger brokers service the small investor.
Among these are Sun Hung Kai Securities, Mansion House Securities, Standard Chartered, and South China Securities.
But even these have restrictions. South China Securities, for example, will only deal with your requests if you have been introduced to the broker.
Among the less well known but registered names, whom you know can play an even more pivotal role.
A reference, even a recommendation, is often required before they will even ask your name. And whether or not a client is accepted depends on the broker's assessment at an interview.
But assuming a registered broker is found, the onus for accessing information is still left largely to the investor.
Some brokerages provide information. Standard Chartered, for example, sends research to all of its clients.
But for most people, constant monitoring of the market is difficult. The rumours which make the market churn often fall short of investor's ears.
So what is available? Information can be accessed in a variety of ways, some costly, some not.
The first is newspapers. See what sectors and regions are outperforming the rest. Read the advice of noted columnists and listen to their spots on the radio.
Banks also can help. Most will have stock quote machines. Check your bank for more information.
Hang Seng Services Ltd has an index-update hotline service which is free of charge. Just dial 810-8112 and find out where the index closed.
The stock exchange produces a daily quotation sheet indicating the high and low cost of each share and turnover volume. It costs $6, or $500 for a three-month subscription.
The stock exchange also has a number of other publications to which an investor can subscribe. Further information on these can be obtained from the Stock Exchange of Hongkong.
In addition, companies such as Telerate and Hutchison have developed a number of products for the retail investor.
Pagers are a favourite tool. Telerate's products include a Star Pager which gives access to information on Hongkong stocks and exchange metals.
The company has also developed a telephone unit known as Telequote with a built in 18-centimetre screen. This product allows access to worldwide financial information.
Most recently, Telerate also developed a Chinese Stock Machine, which is the first all-Chinese financial information for Hongkong and Chinese equities in both Chinese and English.