Throughout every sector, Millennials are driving changes. Now, Millennials are taking advantage of a variety of high-tech and social media tools that allow them to plow their wealth into investment vehicles of their choice. Given their love for anything tech-related, it should come as little surprise that Millennials are now leveraging social networking platforms, websites, and mobile apps to do everything from following stock-picking tips to finding financial planners. One thing is certain: When it comes to investing, Millennials are taking a completely different approach from that of their parents and grandparents. (To learn more about the financial habits of Millennials, see article: Money Habits Of The Millennials.)
How Millennials Invest Differently
No longer are stock tips being passed along on the golf course. When today's generation of investors want to purchase shares, they do not reach for the telephone to ring up their broker. Today, all it takes are a few clicks on an app for Millennials to review a prospectus, get advice, and even make an investment. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 30 percent of Millennials surveyed recently stated they are more loyal to brands that are up-to-date in regards to technology.
While Millennials can sometimes be wary about jumping into investment coming off the heels of the recession, the availability of social media tools is making it easier and more comfortable for this age group to learn about investing. A survey from BlackRock frond that 45 percent of Millennials are more interested in investing in the stock market today than they were just five years ago. (For related reading, see article: Top Stock Market Apps.)
New Breed of Investing Tools
Among the most popular social media tools currently being leveraged by Millennials is Tip'd Off. This Bay Area-based social investing platform makes it possible for peers to help one another invest in the stock market. Here, both newbies and experienced investors are able to share information and tips. The platform even makes it possible for new investors to imitate the actions of investors with a proven track record. Through increased transparency combined with a distinctive social layer, the platform makes it possible for users to build portfolios based on the collective knowledge contributed by peers and experienced traders. As a result, novice investors are able to become involved in investing using a social networking platform environment with which they are already well-acquainted.(To learn about other potential uses for social media, see article: Implementing A Small Business Social Media Strategy.)
The Potential Drawbacks to Technology-Based Investments
If there is a drawback to the availability of social media for investing, it is the potential to develop unrealistic expectations for immediate results. As a whole, the Millennial generation are accustomed to fast results. Frequently dubbed as the instant gratification generation, Millennials check their phones as many as 43 times daily. In an age where services, products, and information are just a tap or a swipe away, it can be easy for Millennials to fall into the trap of expecting instant success when using social media and other high-tech tools to invest. An appetite for adventures combined with a preference for game-playing elements can make the situation even more risky.
As is to be expected of an adventure-seeking, forward-moving generation, Millennials tend to be more bullish about investments than previous generations. BlackRock also reports that Millennials are not only more confident about the future but also spend more time reviewing their investments than Baby Boomers. The report found that while Baby Boomers spend only an average of two hours reviewing their investments each month, Millennials dedicate up to seven hours per month studying their investments. Given the fact that Millennials were coming of age when their parents lost their savings as a result of the financial crisis, this is hardly surprising. With such experiences informing their teenage and young adult years, Millennials are committed to protecting their financial futures.
In an effort to make certain they do not experience the same problems, Millennials are approaching investing in an entirely different manner from Baby Boomers. While Boomers only put away an average of 11 percent for investing, Millennials put away 18 percent for investing. (For related reading on Baby Boomers, see: Top Ten Investments For Baby Boomers.)
Taking Control of Investing with Online Tools and Apps
Millennials have become accustomed to using technology for every aspect of their lives, so it only makes sense that digital technology has become a significant component in their investments, as well. E-Trade reports that people under the age of 35 are more likely to take advantage of online tools for monitoring their investments. With such tools, investors are able to take greater control, reviewing their portfolios anytime they desire rather than waiting for reports to arrive in the mail on a quarterly basis.
There are now so many online tools available to help Millennials manage their investments that it can be easy to become overwhelmed. It is little wonder that at least some Millennials prefer to keep their savings in cash. A survey from Bankrate.com found that Millennials prefer cash three times as much as stocks for long-term investments.
Even so, Millennials have not completely eschewed other forms of investments, specifically projects involving technology. A report from Forbes found that more than $1 billion has been funneled into tech-related personal finance companies over the past few years. During the first quarter of 2014 alone, this sector received an investment of $261 million. There has been a particular emphasis on startups that target young investors by providing mobile-enabled, user-friendly features.
The Bottom Line
While these startups may have a resemblance to a video game, they are singularly focused on making it easy for Millennials to get involved in investing. Just a few of the top financial and investing startups include:
FutureAdvisor: This online investment adviser offers the capability of managing investments automatically for a low fee.
Mint: Mint works by compiling all of a user's financial accounts into a single web-based platform, where they can be analyzed and monitored. Users are able to view all of their funds with separate account balances from their smartphone, computer, or tablet. In addition, Mint makes it possible to synchronize investments, bank accounts, and debit and credit cards, then categorize cash movement and expenses based on where it is spent.
Acorns: Acorns works a bit differently by specifically targeting Millennials who might not have a lot of additional cash to invest. With this investment app, users can set aside spare change in small increments automatically. Acorns works by tracking debit and credit card purchases and then rounding up those purchases to the nearest dollar. The app then takes the difference and puts it aside for investing. After reaching a total of $5, Acorns invests the money in investment portfolios selected by the user. The app charges a $1 monthly fee.