Canadian exchange-traded fund pioneer Som Seif warns that retail investors are becoming “overconfident” and could be in for a rude awakening as they jump into markets that have been extremely volatile throughout the pandemic.

“A lot of people will get smacked around,” said Seif, founder and CEO of Purpose Financial, in an interview on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of people who are making money on these trades. The question is, can you do it and do you get overconfident? That’s what I get concerned about, because the markets can be really, really painful if you start to believe you’re better than you really are.”

Seif, who built one of Canada’s first ETF companies before selling it to BlackRock Inc.​ in 2012, cautioned investors to keep an eye on long-term planning and investment positions, rather than what’s been happening in markets in recent months.

“There’s going to be a lot of people who will learn a lesson,” Seif said. “People are overconfident because it’s been working in their favour for the past six months.”