Survey: Investors Embrace Their Inner Bulls One Year into the Pandemic

1 in 3 plan to make their portfolios riskier as vaccines prompt market optimism

One year into the pandemic and investors are at their most bullish in 11 months. That’s according to the most recent survey of Investopedia’s daily newsletter readers, who we have been surveying since before the pandemic was officially declared on March 13. The global economic recovery spurred on by the mass vaccination efforts across major global economies and the likely passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is behind investors’ surge in enthusiasm—but they’ve been bullish all along, except for about three weeks early last spring.

Readers Have Been Bullish For Nearly a Year Now

As economies reopen and more people receive the vaccine, our readers’ enthusiasm for stocks is at a 12-month high. They are not alone, as surveys of institutional investors as well as other measures of optimism, like the put-to-call ratio, are all showing similar signs of euphoria.

Nearly half (45%) of our actively-invested U.S. readers, who have portfolios ranging in size from less than $100,000 to $1 million, say they are bullish today. Back in April 2020, just as the virus was causing lockdowns around the world, 43% of our readers also said they were bullish then too, so this is an optimistic crowd. Their sentiment wavered throughout the year as infections and fatalities climbed to incredible levels, but since the lows of March 24, 2020, the U.S. stock market has delivered robust returns and rewarded their bullishness. 

Since April 2020, invested readers have been roughly twice as bullish as they were bearish. This most recent report has our readers at their most bullish, just slightly higher from where we started last year, approaching half (45%) bullish.

Only 22% of our readers say they are planning to play it safer with their portfolios this year, compared to April 2020, when 41% of our readers said they were making more prudent moves given the uncertainty. During the lead-up to the November elections, uncertainty around the outcome also caused some skittishness on their part, but once the results became clearer, our readers leaned into their portfolios and kept buying their favorite stocks.

In 2020, we asked if recent market events had affected what kinds of investments they were choosing. More said they were going safer vs. riskier.

  • 41% said they were going safer
  • 27% said they were going riskier
  • 32% said no change

In 2021, we asked them to reflect on how the last 12 months have impacted the investments they’re making, and more respondents said they’re making riskier investments than safer ones.

  • 22% said they were going safer
  • 33% said they were going riskier
  • 45% said no change

Readers are Investing More, Saving More and Being More Active

Forty-one percent of our readers say they will be investing more this year than last year. Only 16% said they would do that 12 months ago. Forty-three percent say they won’t be making changes at all. More than half of our readers say they are managing their portfolios more actively this year than last and nearly half say they will be saving more in 2021.

Nearly One Third Say They’re Not Worried About Markets

Only 21% of readers are at least moderately worried about their money in the market, compared to one year ago when 39% reported they were at least “moderately worried” about current market events. Further, nearly 30% of our readers now say they aren’t worried at all. 

But those who are concerned say the greatest risks facing their investments are political uncertainty under the Biden administration and rising inflation. Twelve percent are concerned about rising interest rates and only 7% are worried about more economic restrictions that could be imposed if COVID-19 makes a resurgence. What a difference a year makes, but the better-than-expected vaccine rollout and lowering case counts have given investors reason for optimism.

Great Expectations for Bulls

Despite the pandemic and the economic casualties it has wrought, our readers are still counting on robust returns for the next 12 months. Nearly 70% are expecting positive gains for the S&P 500 in 2021, with 32% expecting gains between 5%-10%, while 17% are expecting gains of 10% or more. Less than 20% are expecting negative returns this year.

Stocks and ETFs continue to be the securities of choice for our readers, although the last few months have seen more of them investing in cryptocurrency than in the past 12 months. A 485% rise in Bitcoin’s price in the past year likely attracted them to the crypto-market if they were not already bought in. Fifty-three percent of our readers say they will be buying more stocks in the next 12 months, while 20% say they will be buying more cryptocurrencies.

While more of our readers own cryptocurrency today than they did a year ago, 62% think Bitcoin is in a bubble.That compares to 38% who think SPACs represent the biggest bubble. Only 27% think U.S. equities are feeling frothy, while 30% think real estate is in a bubble.


This survey was fielded online from March 3-8, 2021 to Investopedia readers 18+ living in the U.S. who currently hold investments. 

Sample Composition

  • Gender: Man 82% | Woman 17% | Nonbinary or an identity not listed 1%
  • Age: Gen Z 4% | Millennials 17% | Gen X 17% | Boomers 51% | Silent 11%
  • Region: West 27% | South 36% | Northeast 16% | Midwest 19%
  • Race/Ethnicity: White 77% | Black or African American 6% | Hispanic/Latino or Latinx 9%| Asian 6% | Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 1% | American Indian or Alaska Native 1% | Middle Eastern or North African 1% | Another background not mentioned 3%
Research and analysis by
Amanda Morelli
Amanda Morelli, Sr. Director of Data Journalism at Dotdash
Amanda is the Senior Director of Data Journalism at Dotdash Meredith (Investopedia's parent company) and she oversees development of data journalism projects for brands across the company.
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