Australian investors made "a small fortune" over the course of 2021, a new survey has found.
Research conducted by comparison site Finder showed 75% of Australian stock investors boasted a positive return in the past year.
The average growth of their portfolios was a pleasing 20.4%.
To compare, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) put on 13% for the 2021 calendar year.
The Finder study showed the average Australian portfolio of $31,613 would have earned a tidy $5,356 last year.
Near-zero interest rates make ASX shares very attractive
According to Finder share trading expert Kylie Purcell, ASX shares were "a smart way" to invest with interest rates at historic near-zero levels.
"Australians have been quick to adapt by putting some of their money into shares, which can deliver higher returns," she said.
"The 2020 market crash was a game changer for Australians, with thousands of people a day signing up to online brokers for the first time."
Indeed, the research showed 37% of Australians now own a stock portfolio, with millennials (46%) and generation Z (42%) leading the participation.
According to Purcell, a huge lump sum isn't a prerequisite for Australians to get started with ASX shares.
"You don't need to be rich to get involved – there are also micro-investing apps that let you invest your spare change."
Traps to watch for in 2022
In a country traditionally obsessed with real estate, many Australians used to have a perception that buying ASX shares is complicated.
But new online tools have recently opened up a new world for many everyday people.
Purcell did warn of hidden charges though.
"Online platforms and apps like eToro and Superhero have made it super easy for everyone to jump in. They're intuitive to use – but watch out for brokerage and subscription fees," she said.
"Some platforms also charge an inactivity fee if you're not regularly trading, so it's worth comparing your options before getting started."
She added that while many Australians with ASX shares beat the market over the past 12 months, they need to continue exercising caution.
"It's a good idea to ensure your investment is diversified. Instead of betting all your chips on one or two companies, spread it out to reduce your risk."