Boring Money research shows radical change in UK retail investors

Data from Boring Money reveals radical changes in the UK retail investor population over the last year. As many as 12 per cent of adults aged under 45 now report owning some crypto assets, double the same figure a year ago. 

The data comes from Boring Money’s Online Investing Report, using its flagship annual survey of more than 6,000 UK adults. It also shows mobile is becoming an increasingly dominant medium for younger investors buying funds and shares, while social influences are now a critical factor prompting people to start investing for the first time. 

It comes as the FCA last year raised concerns about the volume of newer investors attracted to high-risk investments, and the risk of ‘low friction’ trading on mobile. 
The proportion of adults aged under 45 that report holding some crypto assets has doubled in a single year to 12 per cent (2021:6 per cent). Among those age over 45, ownership is significantly lower at 3 per cent (2021:2 per cent). 

Overall, 7 per cent of the UK adult population holds some crypto assets today, and a further 3 per cent state they have held cryptos in the past. 

Use of mobile as means of accessing an investment account is up compared to the previous year. 43 per cent of investors report checking the balance on their account on mobile (2021:36 per cent), while 19 per cent report buying or selling through a mobile app (2021:16 per cent). 

Mobile functionality is particularly critical for younger investors, who cite it as one of the key factors influencing their provider selection. Among new investors with less than three years’ experience, the ability to manage investments via a mobile app is much more likely to be cited as an important factor, while the wider investor population as more likely to prioritise telephone support. 

The annual Report studies both the behaviours and attitudes of UK retail investors, as well as those of cash savers with no investments. It shows that although many cash savers have suffered during the pandemic, depleting their cash reserves, average cash savings balances have surged. On average, those with cash savings but no investments now hold GBP17,000 (2021: GBP14,600) and 30 per cent have in excess of GBP10,000. 

Simultaneously, there are also a significant proportion of individuals investing in funds and shares despite having relatively modest cash buffers in place. The figures show 27 per cent of those people investing today have less than GBP10,000 in total cash and investment assets, with the majority of this group being younger adults. 

According to the data, one in five (21 per cent) of the total UK retail investor population is made up of individuals with less than 3 years’ experience investing (7 per cent) have been investing less than a year). Of these new investors, a quarter are living in rented accommodation, while 18 per cent live with parents. 

For younger investors, the influence of those around them has been a significant prompt to start their first account. As many as 40 per cent of the youngest investors, age 18-24, say that a friend or family member encouraged them to open their first investment product. 

Boring Money CEO, Holly Mackay, says: “There is a ‘Book End’ effect in the DIY investment market today. At one end we have millions of people in cash, with significant balances, and no investments. At the other end, we have some relatively inexperienced, mostly younger investors holding extremely volatile assets. There is a more natural middle ground for millions, and providers have to find some answers on how transition more customers to that more comfortable middle ground.” 

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