Lusia Arumingtyas, 26, is one of a growing number of young middle-income Indonesians who have decided to invest money in the stock market, a trend expected to continue in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where the number of individual investors remains small.
She previously thought that a campaign called “Yuk Nabung Saham” (Let’s Invest in Stocks), promoted by the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), wasn’t attractive at first glance and was interested in investing in property instead.
She did invest in the property sector and she now owns a small plot of land in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, as a long-term investment. However, as a young career woman, she was not ready to commit to the maintenance and capital costs of becoming a serious investor in prime land and property.
Through a combination of research and trial-and-error, she eventually found that investing in stocks was also feasible based on her income and financial capability.
She said stocks offered short-term profitability through dividend payments she received once or twice a year, a rather simple yet satisfying form of investment.
“As a middle-class citizen with a standard salary, I thought investing in stocks was ideal to earn the money to buy property, gain my financial freedom, then retire,” she told The Jakarta Post recently.
Lusia’s story was revealed in a speech Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution delivered when reopening the bourse earlier this year. Darmin acknowledged that Indonesians might still be interested in real-sector investments, such as land and property, rather than investing in the financial market.
“Convincing citizens [to invest in the capital market] won’t be easy because investing in land is always profitable,” he said. “But land does have longer selling cycles than stocks.”
He said that landowners might wait up to 30 years – almost half the 69-year Indonesian life expectancy – before reselling land at up to 100 times the buying price.
However, Darmin was not offering financial advice, but promoting the deepening of Indonesia’s financial market, which remained shallow compared to other Asian countries.
IDX data show that Indonesia lags behind its neighbors in terms of the ratio of the number of capital market investors and total population.
About 1.6 million Indonesians made investments last year in the capital market, but that remains less than 1 percent of the country’s population of 265 million. That percentage is lower than Singapore's 26 and Malaysia's 7.8.
Indonesia’s 46 percent ratio of stock market capitalization to gross domestic product was also lower than Vietnam's (47 percent), Thailand's (75 percent) and South Korea's (125 percent), according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Economic Survey 2018.
Through the Yuk Nabung Saham campaign launched in 2015, the IDX attempts to educate and attract citizens, particularly millennials, to invest in the stock market. The program helped accelerate investor registration growth to more than 25 percent per year compared to less than 19 percent in the previous four years.
Melvin Mumpuni, a financial planner, concurred with Darmin and Lusia, saying that investing in the stock market was advantageous for citizens with limited funds.
“Especially Indonesian millennials, who can now invest with as little as Rp 100,000 [US$7.18] in capital,” he said.
However, an easier procedure for new investors to place their money in the stock market was not enough, according to Lusia, who said that the real problem was still the very low capital market literacy. However, for upper-middle-class Indonesians, learning more about investing should not be difficult.
Melvin saw this as an opportunity to promote FinansialKu, his wealth management start-up that offers a free beginner's stock investing guidebook in Bahasa Indonesian on its website.
He said improving financial literacy should be the number one priority for financial institutions, but further simplifying procedures for investors and encouraging more companies to go public were equally important.