In recent years, the largely exclusive world of investing has been blown wide open by the rise of fintech platforms. These support brand new ways for retail investors to participate in the buying and selling of stocks on global markets. Accelerated by the conditions presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the retail investor boom has been supported by the emergence of passive trading.
The accessibility of Wall Street today may be hard to fathom. This is especially true when looking back a little more than a decade to the costs and hurdles that retail investors had to overcome to simply buy their favorite stocks. As recently as 2009, brokerages were charging anywhere from $9.99 to $19.95 per transaction for the buying and selling of stocks online.
‘Zero-commission’ trading was one of the early revolutionary changes brought by emerging fintech firms as more investing platforms like Robinhood began to enter the market in the months prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although controversial, zero-commission trading generally works on a payment-for-order-flow (PFOF) model. Brokerages receive payments from market makers in return for the flow of customer stock purchases and sales being run exclusively through their firm. This enables investment platforms to make their money without customers having to cough up directly. However, it also means that chosen market makers may not be required to charge the most competitive price for stocks.
As the Covid-19 pandemic heavily impacted the lives of individuals all around the world, the implementation of lockdown measures coupled with the arrival of government stimulus packages saw more retail investors taking to the stock market in a bid to buy into recovering stocks. The data above shows that investors had been quick to take on technology stocks, with a net investment flow of $40 billion arriving in the sector by early 2022.
Investors are now having to adapt to the age of the ‘new normal’ today. This means that there may be less time available to conduct the required research to discover new prospects, fintechs are actively working to take initiative in making key investing decisions for customers.
Thanks largely to the rise of fintech, it’s never been easier, or more cost-effective, to invest passively. In some cases, it’s not even necessary to make any investment decisions whatsoever. Let’s take a deeper look at how fintechs have turned retail investing passive.
The Rise of the Robo-Advisor
The past decade has belonged to the robo-advisor. Built on a foundation of artificial intelligence, these automated investment services are generally low-cost, and it’s extremely easy for users to get started with very little money. Many platforms even offer spare change ‘roundup’ investment options.
Robo-advisors have enjoyed a rise in popularity that’s been strong even in the years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Between 2017 and 2019, the volume of money under management through robo-advisors tripled from around $240 billion to $980 billion, according to Statista data. Furthermore, the industry has been forecast to reach a value of $2 trillion by the end of 2022.
The beauty of this automated approach to investments is that it enables fintech platforms to do all of the work, in a very literal sense. Roundup platforms like Moneybox has become renowned for its approach to spare change investing, whereby users specify the amount of money they wish to invest each month, whether they would like to have their spare change from bank card purchases automatically rounded up and invested, and the level of risk they would like to take on through their ISAs, and the app will take care of the rest.
This enables users to build a sizable nest egg for their specific goals without having to do anything at all – besides occasionally logging into their account to refresh their bank card permissions.
Passive Portfolios via Copy Trading
Although copy trading is nothing new, fintech platforms have helped to make them far more accessible and customizable to boot.
Whilst many stock trading platforms now offer some form of copy trading capabilities, the leading brokerage to offer the feature is eToro.
Through eToro, it’s possible for traders to view the platform’s leading traders over a given period of time, and choose their favorites to essentially trace, trade by trade.
All trades are proportional to the amount of money that a user is willing to invest, and in eToro’s case, it’s possible to copy up to 100 traders at a time – provided a minimum of $200 is invested per trader.
Furthermore, it’s also possible to copy stop losses when trading to ensure that there’s some form of protection against portfolios suffering a downturn.
There’s sufficient evidence that copy trading can work as an option for investors who may lack the time necessary to make informed market decisions. According to eToro’s statistics, the platform’s 50 most copied traders made an average yearly profit of 30.4% in 2021.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided to the extent where many of the retail investors of 2020 have found that their free time has become more limited, the rise of passive investing has ensured that nobody needs to slow their trading activity. With fintech platforms offering a varied range of passive investment options, it’s possible to maintain a strong portfolio long into the future.
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