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Gen Z and Millennial Investors: Ranking the Most Used, Trusted Investing Tools

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Date: 2021-05-03 18:11:15

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Members of Generation Z (age 18 to 24) and millennials (25 to 40) are a unique and growing class of investors. 

They lead the retail investment revolution, embrace new investing services and tools, and have access to more information than any previous generation of investors. 

In April 2021, The Motley Fool surveyed 1,400 investors aged 18 to 40 about the tools they use to invest, the sources they rely on for investing advice, and how they determine the trustworthiness of those sources.

Despite recent media coverage that may imply Gen Z and millennial investors rely solely on TikTok and Reddit, we found that these investors use a variety of tools and sources and that -- like all other investors -- they vary a great deal in their preferences.

Key findings

  • The investing app space is crowded and competitive: 13 apps were used by at least 10% of Gen Z and millennial investors. No single app was used by more than 37% of young investors. 
  • Robinhood is the most used app, but it's not hugely dominant: 37% of our respondents use Robinhood, while 26% use Fidelity and 23% use Acorns. 
  • Social media is a main source of investing advice: 91% of Gen Z respondents used social media for information on investing, more than any other source of information. 
  • Reddit is trusted by the majority of Gen Z and millennial investors: 61% of our respondents find Reddit a trustworthy source of information on investing.
  • Gen Z and millennials investors trust traditional investing websites more than almost all other sources of investing information: 82% of respondents say that traditional investing websites are trustworthy -- more than sources like YouTube, TV shows, and F.I.R.E. blogs.
  • Robinhood users trust other sources more than Reddit: While Robinhood and Reddit have been the focus of much attention lately, investors aged 18 to 40 who use Robinhood trust traditional investing websites, SEC filings and other financial documents, and other investing blogs more than Reddit.

37% of Gen Z and millennial investors use Robinhood, more than any other app or service

We found that 37% of investors aged 18 to 40 had used Robinhood in the past month, a larger percentage than reported for any other app or service.

40% of Gen Z investors (age 18 to 24) and 36% of millennials (age 25 to 40) had used Robinhood in the past month.

No other app or service was as popular overall.

Which apps or services do you use once per month or more?
App/Service Gen Z (ages 18 to 24) Millennials (ages 25 to 40) All investors aged 18 to 40

Robinhood

40%

36%

37%

Fidelity

22%

26%

26%

Acorns

25%

23%

23%

Stash

30%

19%

20%

Vanguard

15%

19%

18%

Personal Capital

16%

17%

17%

TD Ameritrade

17%

17%

17%

Webull

16%

16%

16%

Stockpile

18%

12%

13%

Aspiration

16%

11%

12%

Schwab

8%

12%

12%

Wealthfront

12%

11%

11%

Betterment

9%

10%

10%

Clink

8%

9%

9%

Ellevest

9%

9%

9%

Round

10%

8%

8%

Other

5%

7%

7%

None of these

9%

9%

9%

Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard have 4 percentage points more millennial users than Gen Z users

A larger percentage of millennials used apps from brokerage firms founded in the 20th century than Gen Z:

Which apps or services do you use once a month or more?
App/Service Gen Z Millennial All investors aged 18 to 40
Fidelity 22% 26% 26%
Schwab 8% 12% 12%
TD Ameritrade 17% 17% 17%
Vanguard 15% 19% 18%

Generally, a larger share of Gen Z investors used apps and services associated with newer firms compared to millennials. 

6% of male investors aged 18 to 40 use Ellevest compared to 4% of female investors of the same age

Ellevest is a robo-advisor service designed to support women in reaching their financial goals, although the app is available to men and women. 

Our survey found that a higher percentage of Gen Z and millennial male investors use Ellevest than female investors from those generations. 6% of male respondents reported using Ellevest in the past month compared to 4% of female respondents. 

Almost every other app showed the same pattern -- male respondents were more likely to report using them once a month than female respondents.

Women were more likely to say that they used none of the listed services more than once a month, which may result from the fact that women log into their investment accounts less often than men.

91% of Gen Z investors got investing information from social media in the last month 

Social media has gotten a bad rap in investing-related press lately. But it's worth noting that the source of investing information doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of information. An investor may follow a high-quality source of information on social media instead of receiving that source's newsletter, for example.

Social platforms also let investors be part of a community and more actively consume information than more traditional sources of investing information. There's no built-in channel to discuss your stock picks with other readers of a newspaper, for example.

Some skepticism is called for when using social media -- or any other source -- for investing information. We'll talk about the trustworthiness of sources in the next section. With all of that in mind, we asked Gen Z and millennial investors where they get their investing information.

Social media, more than any other source of investing information, was used by our respondents over the last month. Especially by Gen Z investors -- 91% of them reported using social media to get investing information in the last 30 days (compared to 75% of millennials).

We also saw the biggest gap between male and female investors in social media usage -- 83% of male and 70% of female respondents said they had used social media for investing information in the past month.

Please select the types of resources you've used to get information on investing in the past 30 days.
Source of investing information

Gen Z

Millennial

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube)

91%

75%

83%

70%

77%

Government and industry certified sources (SEC filings, professional financial advisor)

32%

33%

34%

32%

33%

Traditional media (TV and newspapers)

34%

27%

34%

22%

28%

Blogs (F.I.R.E. blogs and other blogs)

25%

29%

26%

30%

28%

Other (friends and family, podcasts, traditional investing sites, other)

67%

75%

71%

76%

74%

Interestingly, members of Gen Z were more likely than millennial investors to have used TV and newspapers to get investing information (35% and 27%, respectively).

Both generations were likely to rely on friends and family, investing podcasts, and traditional investing websites for their information, too -- we'll break those categories down further in a moment.

54% of Gen Z and millennial investors use YouTube, 36% use Reddit

YouTube was the most commonly used social media platform for investing information among investors aged 18 to 40. 54% of our respondents used YouTube to get investing information in the past month.

Please select the types of resources you've used to get information on investing in the past 30 days.

Social media platform

Gen Z

Millennial

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

YouTube videos

71%

52%

64%

44%

54%

Reddit forums

42%

36%

38%

35%

36%

Facebook groups/posts

28%

35%

38%

30%

34%

Twitter posts

32%

22%

30%

17%

23%

Instagram posts

27%

21%

25%

19%

22%

TikTok videos

36%

13%

17%

15%

16%

Gen Z investors were more likely than millennial investors to use YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok for investing information -- the only social media platform that millennials were more likely to use was Facebook.

Despite extensive mentions in the media, only 16% of Gen Z and millennial investors used TikTok, making it the least used social media source of investing information and putting its use on par with TV shows, SEC filings or other financial statements, and podcasts.

49% of millennials use traditional investing websites compared to 34% of Gen Z

Traditional investing websites were the second most used source of information on investing by investors aged 18 to 40, used by 47% of those surveyed.

Please select the types of resources you've used to get information on investing in the past 30 days.

 Source of investing information

Gen Z

Millennial

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

Traditional investing websites

34%

49%

48%

46%

47%

Friends and family

41%

41%

40%

43%

41%

Professional financial advisor

27%

23%

24%

23%

24%

Podcasts

22%

18%

20%

16%

18%

SEC filings or other financial statements

10%

17%

17%

15%

16%

Millennials were more likely than Gen Z investors to use traditional investing websites and SEC filings or other financial statements, while members of Gen Z were more likely to consult with a professional financial advisor, breaking with their current reputation of trading based on meme stocks and hype. Investors under the age of 25 were also more likely to get investing information from podcasts.

Men and women were about as likely to get information from a professional financial advisor (24% and 23%, respectively) within the past month, while men were more likely to use traditional investing websites, podcasts, and financial statements. Women were more likely to consult friends and family (43%, compared to 40% of men).

When it comes to investing advice, women trust social media less than men

We asked Gen Z and millennial investors to rank each source of information as very trustworthy, somewhat trustworthy, somewhat untrustworthy, or very untrustworthy. Here's the percentage of each group who said that each source was "somewhat" or "very" trustworthy:

Percentage of young investors who find sources of investing information "somewhat" or "very" trustworthy.

Source of investing information

Gen Z

Millennial 

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

Traditional investing websites

72%

83%

81%

82%

82%

SEC filings or other financial statements

72%

80%

79%

80%

79%

Other investing blogs

62%

73%

71%

72%

71%

Reddit forums

63%

61%

65%

57%

61%

YouTube videos

73%

57%

63%

54%

59%

F.I.R.E. Blogs

73%

57%

56%

49%

53%

TV shows

50%

51%

59%

43%

51%

Facebook groups/posts

37%

44%

48%

38%

43%

Twitter posts

47%

43%

53%

33%

43%

Instagram posts

43%

39%

46%

33%

40%

TikTok videos

39%

27%

33%

24%

28%

Interestingly, only about 60% of respondents rated YouTube and Reddit as trustworthy, despite them being relatively popular sources of investing information. Traditional investing sites were given the highest rating, with 82% of Gen Z and millennial investors saying that they're at least somewhat trustworthy.

And again, despite TikTok's prominence in media coverage of Gen Z and millennial investors, only 28% of respondents rated it as a trustworthy source of investing information.

Members of Generation Z were more likely than millennials to trust investing information they found on Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Facebook tilted the other way, with more millennials finding it trustworthy (44%) than members of Generation Z (37%).

There was a surprisingly large gap between the level of trust of SEC filings and other financial statements, with 72% of Gen Z respondents deeming them trustworthy compared to 80% of millennials.

Overall, women showed less trust in social media than men and more trust in more traditional sources of investing information, like SEC filings and blogs.

Female investors are most skeptical of Reddit

The focus of attention in the spring of 2021, Reddit was considered to be trustworthy by more Gen Z and millennial investors, 61%, than any other social media platform.

Although there wasn't a huge amount of variation, female respondents were the most skeptical of Reddit as a source of investing information. Members of Gen Z (63%), millennials (61%), and male investors aged 18 to 40 (65%) were more likely to say that Reddit is at least somewhat trustworthy than female investors across both generations (57%).

TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook were deemed the most untrustworthy social media sites for investing information, with TikTok coming in at the bottom. Only 29% of Gen Z and millennial investors found TikTok to be at least somewhat trustworthy.

82% of Gen Z and millennial investors find traditional investing websites trustworthy

Traditional investing websites were considered trustworthy sources of investing information by 82% of respondents, the most of any source. Members of Gen Z were more skeptical of these sites than millennials, however; 72% of Gen Z investors said traditional investing websites were trustworthy compared to 83% of millennials.

Financial independence/early retirement (F.I.R.E) blogs were rated as less trustworthy compared to other investing blogs. 53% of Gen Z and millennial investors described F.I.R.E blogs as a trustworthy source of information on investing while 71% of young investors described other investing blogs as a trustworthy source of information on investing.

Men and women showed similar levels of trust when it came to traditional investing websites, SEC filings and other financial statements, and non-F.I.R.E. blogs. Women were more skeptical than men about all other sources of investing information. This is especially true of Twitter posts -- 53% of men said Twitter posts were at least somewhat trustworthy when it comes to investing information, while only 33% of women agreed.

A strong track record is the most important validator for Gen Z and millennial investors

When it comes to judging the reputability of a social media source for investing information, investors aged 18 to 40 placed the most value in the source's proof of historical performance.

Recommendations matching their investing strategy was the second most important factor, followed by high-quality posts and follower count.

When you find a new source of investing information on social media, how do you know whether they're a reputable source? Rank the following signals that someone is reputable from 1 (most important) to 4 (least important).

Reputability signal

Average ranking, Gen Z

Average ranking, millennial

Average ranking, male

Average ranking, female

Average ranking, all investors aged 18 to 40

Proof of historical performance

2.20

1.98

2.11

1.9

2.01

Their recommendations match my investing strategy 

2.53

2.35

2.44

2.29

2.37

High-quality videos/posts

2.42

2. 69

2.6

2.71

2.66

Follower count

2.85

2.98

2.85

3.09

2.97

Proof of historical performance isn't indicative of future performance -- but it can still be a good trust signal. The #2 trust signal -- "Their recommendations match my investing strategy" -- could be a bit worrying, however.

Just because someone's recommendations don't match what you've been doing doesn't mean that they're not good recommendations. We encourage investors to keep an open mind when thinking about new types of investments.

33% of Gen Z believe historical performance is the most important signal of reputability compared to 47% of millennials

Historical performance was less relevant for Gen Z respondents than millennials. 33% of Gen Z considered proof of historical performance as the most important factor in determining the reputability of a social media source compared to 47% of millennials.

Female respondents valued proof of historical performance more than any other factor and more than male respondents. 50% of females said proof of historical performance was the most important signal of reputability compared to 41% of males. 

When you find a new source of investing information on social media, how do you know whether they're a reputable source? Rank the following signals that someone is reputable from 1 (most important) to 4 (least important).

 Reputability signal

 Importance ranking

Gen Z

Millennial 

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

Proof of historical performance

1

33%

47%

41%

50%

46%

2

27%

22%

24%

21%

23%

3

25%

16%

18%

16%

17%

4

14%

15%

17%

12%

15%

Follower count is the least important factor across all groups on average, but 21% of Gen Z give it priority 

Only 14% of investors aged 18 to 40 claimed follower count to be the most important signal of whether a social media source of investing information is reputable, and 41% ranked it as the least important factor. 

21% of Gen Z, however, said that follower count was the most important factor for determining reputability, compared to 13% of millennials. 16% of males ranked follower count as the top factor in determining reputability compared to 11% of females.

When you find a new source of investing information on social media, how do you know whether they're a reputable source? Rank the following signals that someone is reputable from 1 (most important) to 4 (least important).

Reputability signal Importance ranking

Gen Z

Millennial

Male

Female

All investors aged 18 to 40

Follower count

1

21%

13%

16%

11%

14%

2

13%

18%

20%

15%

17%

3

26%

29%

29%

27%

28%

4

40%

41%

36%

47%

41%

62% of Robinhood users trust Reddit, but other sources are more popular

Robinhood and Reddit have been in the spotlight recently, and 62% of investors aged 18 to 40 that use Robinhood found Reddit to be a trustworthy source of investing information.

No other social media platform was trusted by as many Robinhood users, but other sources of investing information were found to be trustworthy by a larger percentage of Robinhood users. 

58% of Robinhood users described YouTube as trustworthy, while the majority of Robinhood users found Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to be untrustworthy sources of investing information. 

Like Gen Z and millennial investors overall, traditional investing websites were found trustworthy by the largest percentage of Robinhood users, 84%, and SEC filings and other financial statements were deemed trustworthy by the second-highest percentage of Robinhood users, 80%.

Source of investing information

Percentage of Robinhood users who find source "somewhat" or "very" trustworthy

Traditional investing websites

84%

SEC filings or other financial statements

80%

Other blogs

72%

Reddit

62%

YouTube

58%

F.I.R.E. blogs

53%

TV shows

48%

Twitter

40%

Facebook

39%

Instagram

36%

TikTok

28%

Gen Z and millennial investors are a multifaceted group

Investors aged 18 to 40 are an interesting group -- but they're also not homogenous.

They use a range of apps to invest, including those from brokerage firms founded in the 1940s to newer apps and robo-advisors. They get investing information from multiple sources beyond social media, like traditional investing websites and friends and family. 

It's important to keep in mind that for many of these investors, social media may be the most accessible way of consuming information that previous generations are more familiar with. Instead of watching a financial analyst discuss a company's earnings on TV, they may watch the same clip on YouTube or read the analysts' take on Twitter.

And despite their proclivity toward social media, our results show that Gen Z and millennial investors have a healthy dose of skepticism toward most social media sources and know how to spot credible information.

More Gen Z and millennial investors found traditional investing websites and SEC filings and other financial statements to be credible sources of investing information than any other source, including social media platforms.

Methodology

The Motley Fool distributed this survey to 1,400 American adult stock investors via Pollfish on April 19, 2021.

Respondents were 49% female and 51% male.

Original Source: https://www.fool.com/research/2021/05/03/gen-z-millennial-investors-tools/