The vast majority of press releases that come into the office are upbeat announcements from bullish analysts about the imminent recovery of the world's stock markets. But there is little heard from the small investors who hurt more than anyone when markets turn sour. That was until yesterday, when the Hong Kong branch of the Association of International Accountants and listed brokerage Hantec Investment Holdings released results of a survey into how small investors have fared in the past year. And they have not done well, according to Tommy Tam Hok-lam, a vice-president of the accountants' group. Of the 3,232 respondents who invested in equities, 2,229 said their investments had gone south. Perhaps more surprisingly there were 1,003 who said they managed to make money. The survey, which covered 4,821 people, was conducted by street polls in busy areas such as Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok, Mr Tam said. Some respondents answered a questionnaire in the Recruit classified newspaper. 'The majority of the small investors suffered this year, and as they suffer, they really feel pessimistic about next year as well,' Mr Tam said. Mutual fund investors also said they did poorly, with 778 of 1,205 respondents saying their investments were under water, indicating that the professionals running the funds were doing even worse than the amateurs. Those who played foreign exchange markets had a better chance of making money, with 56 per cent of the 993 who participated saying they had made gains. On the whole, men did better than women on stock market and fund investments, but women were ahead in the futures market. 'Generally, the men like to make money, they like to put money into the stock market, they like horse racing, they like football betting, this is men's character. Women tend to be more conservative,' Mr Tam said. 'The survey also revealed that quite a lot of females put a lot of money into foreign exchange and gold futures, [and] they have a better result. Probably they are not too greedy.' Experience also seemed to be a factor. 'Age is very important, those who are older tend to have a better result in their investment strategy,' Mr Tam said. Sentiment was hurt both by the decline in world markets as well as Hong Kong's penny-stock fiasco and scandals involving SAR-listed China plays such as Euro-Asia Agricultural (Holdings).