New Research Shows Gen Z Are Immersing Themselves in the World of Investing

Published: 26 May 2023

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, and the FINRA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that helps underserved Americans acquire the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions, have today published new research underlining the investment motivations and behaviors among Gen Z investors ages 18–25.

A survey of over 2,800 Gen Z, millennial and Gen X respondents from the U.S., Canada, the UK, and China examined the investment-related behaviors of those with and without investment accounts.

The report found that Gen Z individuals started investing due to a range of factors, including the ability to access financial information on social media and the proliferation of investing apps and cryptocurrencies.

Two in five Gen Z investors in the U.S. (41%), Canada (41%) and the UK (43%), and almost two in three (60%) of Gen Z investors in China cited 'FOMO' (fear of missing out) as a factor in their decision to start investing.

Paul Andrews, Managing Director for Research, Advocacy, and Standards, CFA Institute said:

"These new entrants to the world of investing are reshaping investment practices, products, and platforms. Our study has underlined the extent to which their investment habits differ significantly from their predecessor investor cohorts. A range of macroeconomic and social factors such as rising inflation, the growing popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrency, and social media 'finfluencers' are having a profound impact on how, where and what they invest in.

"While social media and investment apps are making it easier for Gen Z to access financial information, there are still barriers preventing many Gen Zs from getting started with investing. This includes a lack of financial education, which continues to be a cause for concern. Governments, regulators, and investment professionals have a collective role to play in helping Gen Z acquire the necessary knowledge to make well-informed, responsible investment decisions."

Gerri Walsh, President, FINRA Foundation, said:

"The Gen Z population is diverse and digitally savvy. They are using mobile technology to enter the financial markets in unprecedented numbers and consulting a wide range of information sources as they do so. It is vital to understand their investing decisions and to provide them with the educational tools to prepare for those decisions."

Key findings from the research include:

• More of Gen Z are investing than not: Canada has the highest proportion of Gen Zs who invest, with nearly three in four (74%) saying they own at least one investment, compared to more than one in two in China (57%) and the U.S. (56%), and 49% in the UK.

• Crypto is a popular investment choice among Gen Z investors: More than two in five (44%) U.S. Gen Z investors first started out investing with crypto, compared to 35% of U.S. Millennial investors and 23% of U.S. Gen X investors. Crypto was also the most common investment Gen Z investors started out with in Canada (35%) and the UK (43%).

• A large number of Gen Z investors started investing before they turned 21: More than four in five (82%) U.S. Gen Z investors began investing before they were 21, as did 79% of Canadian and 81% of UK Gen Z investors. In contrast, less than two thirds (63%) of Gen Z investors in China started investing prior to this age. Chinese Gen Z investors, however, have the largest median investment balances among the markets surveyed.

• The majority of Gen Z investors are focused on travelling, but UK investors want to buy a home: 61% of U.S., 55% of Canadian, and 53% Chinese Gen Z investors say their top financial goal is having enough money to travel or go on vacation. Over half (55%) of Canadian Gen Z investors also cited being able to pay monthly bills as their top concern, while 48% of UK Gen Z investors (a plurality) state that their financial goal is to buy a home.

• Most Gen Z investors rely on social media to learn about investing: Almost half of U.S. Gen Z investors (48%) use social media to learn about investing. It is the top information source for Gen Z investors in the U.S., Canada and the UK. It is the fourth most popular option for those in China, with the top information source being financial apps.

• Barriers to investing remain: Lack of savings is the top reason Gen Zs in the U.S., Canada and China cite for not investing, whereas the top barrier for Gen Zs in the UK is not having enough income or living paycheck to paycheck. Over half of Gen Z investors in the U.S. (56%), Canada (56%) and the UK (58%) also state that a lack of knowledge around investing is a barrier to investing.

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