Written by: Nick Shoemaker
It is now easier than ever for the individual to start actively investing in the stock market. Apps such as Acorns and Robinhood have made the process significantly easier and quicker than ever. The account minimums for these investment apps are either next to nothing ($5 for Acorns), or actually nothing in Robinhood’s case. This means that a high school senior with a minimum wage job and a smartphone has the power to start growing their money, and does not need to get a financial advisor involved. The new wave of investors that these apps have recruited has led to major changes in people’s account balances, both drastically positive and negative.
There are entire online communities, such as subreddit r/wallstreetbets, that are dedicated to posting both success and horror stories of individual’s risky investment positions. These often young investors either win big, win big and then lose all their gains by reinvesting into equally risky investments, or lose everything entirely. Due to this, there have been calls for more regulation for apps such as Robinhood. However, is this the only solution?
More regulation on investing apps means the less opportunity for people with lower income to grow their wealth through the stock market, which does not benefit anybody. Taking away accessibility is not the only option to protect people.
The best way to protect new investors is through education. Many young people are seeking financial education, but are finding they are not learning these skills in their traditional schooling. Teaching the basics of finance, including the stock market, in the American education system will not only prevent the short-term losses we are seeing currently, but create a financially savvy person throughout all of life.
Though a lot of responsibility of education should be within the school system, investment apps targeted at people with lower income can and should do more to educate within their own apps. Financial education content within the app itself would further improve financial literacy within the younger demographic.
Regulating investing apps to provide less investing options and increase account minimums does nothing but gatekeep the stock market from lower income individuals. Providing more financial education will give more people the tools they need to become financially sound.
Nick Shoemaker is a registered representative of and securities offered through First Palladium, LLC, Member FINRA and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ash Brokerage, LLC. Supervising office located at 888 S. Harrison Street, Suite 900, Fort Wayne, IN 46802. 800-589-3000.