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Women swoop down on stock exchanges

Nandini Lakshman in Mumbai | December 08, 2003 09:29 IST

A chartered accountant by training, Manali Shah was fed up of being the quintessential housewife. But a year ago, she began playing the market aggressively with a Rs 500,000 corpus.

"I like the dynamism of the equity market. It is not the money but my temperament," says Shah, who hails from a business family.

Attached to a leading broking house, Shah has done a course in derivatives at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

"I am a reckless investor. So I do not trade on the Net. My new broking firm has stabilised me," she says. Is she an investor?

"Not much. I am in the derivatives market, more of an intra-day positional trader. I want things moving." Dynamic? Sure.

Now look at paediatrician and lottery ticket addict Asha Pradeep. "It is in my genes," she says. A sporadic investor, Pradeep today is hooked on the market.

Some months ago, she picked up 200 Reliance shares. After holding them for a month, she made a profit of Rs 7,000.

"I invest small amounts, but I feel nice when I make money," she says. Her journalist husband has no clue about the market.

Or take her friend Serena John. John had seen her sister trade on the Internet in Kerala and make money.

"I thought if she was doing it, why not me? So now I sell at 30 per cent or above," says John who has an ICICI Direct account.

These are among the growing number of women who have hit the market in recent times. Sure, women have been in the ring and playing the market for years.

But today, from ubiquitous housewives to executives to professionals, they are all swooping down on the bourses to make the most of the charging bull. And they are doing it both online and offline, from homes, offices or through the mobile phone.

Even brokerage firms say women are increasingly becoming part of their customer base. Says Manish Shah, head of retail products and strategy at the Mumbai-based Motilal Oswal Securities, "From nil three years ago, women now account for 3 per cent of our client base." It is the same story at other brokerages.

Daisy T Boga, a remissier (a sub-broker whose paperwork is done by the parent broking firm) at a leading brokerage firm, says women are a major part of her roster.

"They have a gut feel for the market, at times more than men," she says. Boga, who used to go to the ring earlier, is amazed at the awareness levels of some of her clients.

"Many know exactly which scrip is moving and why, and their buy and sell decisions are instantaneous, unlike men," she adds.

That is because, for most women, the ideal fodder is the 24-hour CNBC business channel. Then they are privy to a surfeit of information both from the Internet and broking firms. And tips fly galore from friends, neighbours and brokers at the click of a mobile phone.

What is more, Internet trading has meant they can make money from the confines of their homes or workplace. Says John, "I have learnt a lot by reading and watching television."

Adds Pradeep, "I do not think I would have traded with a broker. But e-broking has made it all so accessible."

Having tasted blood in short-term investing to day trading, their numbers are only increasing. But as Shah says, "This gives me a greater purpose in life. I prefer the market volatility to a 9 am-5 pm job."

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