For many years, investing within the stock market was seen as a reservation of bankers and the super-rich. However, thanks to smartphones and apps, there has been a real democratisation of investment. Many people are realising that you don’t need a large amount of money to enter the stock market and therefore, pretty much anyone can try it.
There’s also been a notable spike in popularity in stocks and shares in recent years and this is due to a number of factors. An important trend which is influencing potential investors is social media, with sites such as Reddit, allowing groups of users across the world to influence markets in real time. For example, the much-publicised AMC incident sparked a worldwide discussion on investment. On a more personal level, people are also trying to make their money work harder due to the poor interest rates on savings that we currently face. However, it’s worth noting that the most influential factor affecting investment over the last few years is the rise of cryptocurrency.
How does investment work?
Stocks, shares and investment in general can be complex ideas at first but on a basic level, they’re quite simple. Businesses and organisations will sell shares on the stock exchange, allowing others to become shareholders. Being a shareholder just means you own a tiny percentage of the business. The price of these stocks will then fluctuate and you can earn more money on your investment or potentially lose your investment.
There are many reasons why stocks increase or decrease in value, including the health and perception of the company, the overall economy or fluctuations in the market itself. This dynamic is why investment can be incredibly lucrative but also incredibly dangerous. A savings accounts will provide a small but steady trickle of interest but you won’t risk losing any of your money. However, when you invest, you’re agreeing to gamble as nothing is guaranteed.
Should I Invest?
When it comes to deciding whether to invest your money or not, it can be a difficult decision. Not everyone is suited to investment and if you’re not careful, you can lose a lot of money. The ideal candidate would be someone who has savings and is looking for a decent return, greater than what you would get from an ISA. However, those who are looking for a short-term payoff, aren’t guaranteed this result. In fact, rushing into the stock market and making large, spontaneous investments can often lead to disaster. The ideal investor is someone who is happy to make smaller, long-term investments with a future goal in mind- for example a child’s education.
It’s worth noting that some investments are safer than others- specifically the difference between stocks and funds. Stocks refer to shares in individual companies whereas funds are groups of stocks from multiple companies and organisations. These are often curated to provide a steady and safer return on your investment. It’s the equivalent of hedging your bets and spreading the risk involved.
Even when you understand the stock market and the idea of investing, how do you actually go about it? Fortunately, there are a plethora of applications, with different skill levels in mind, ensuring you get the most out of your money. There are many different apps to choose from but some are particularly good for beginners.
Acorns is ideal for those who want to get the most out of their investments, without having to think about it too much. The app integrates with your debit and/or credit cards and users can choose from different account types.
Stash is a fun and interactive application that combines your investment portfolio with educational content. This is therefore the app of choice for those beginners who want to learn more about stocks and shares and how to get the most out of the market.
Invstr is an app that provides a wealth of information and educational content for complete beginners. Users play fantasy-based games, using fake money to learn the basics of investment. Invstr also has an active community and news feed.
Robinhood is probably one of the most well-known and popular applications for investors as it was one of the first to offer trading without fees or commissions. It remains popular due to it’s easy to use interface and the fact that it doesn’t charge fees for trading cryptocurrency.
Ally is a great all-round investment-based app for beginners. It doesn’t only give access to bonds, mutual funds and ETFs, there’s also no minimum investment. Users also benefit from chat, email and phone support.
These are just some of the apps available for those interesting in investing- there are many more out there.