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Sunday, July 21, 2019
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Tell it to SunStar: How digital startups make stock investing more relevant to millennials

FOR the longest time, stock investing was seen as a playground of the affluent few, as if it’s only meant to be occupied by those who are in suit-and-ties. In Singapore and the Philippines, experts say millennials cite lack of awareness in the practice and insufficient cash as the top reasons why they would rather save than bet their hard-earned money into the assets. This practice is unfortunate, as the interest earned on cash in the bank is typically not even enough to keep up with monetary inflation. Your savings, in short, are shrinking.

No wonder more and more digital platforms, specifically catering to this particular demographic have emerged, gradually changing the notion that stock investing is just for seasoned executives. It’s not like the rules and systems running stock markets have recently changed.

Thanks to smartphones, digital platforms have become more attractive as they launch mobile applications and web services that young investors are familiar with.

Tsupitero.com

In the Philippines, there’s Tsupitero.com, which provides valuable stock data for investors in a platform more pleasing to the eye, in contrast to say, the raw graphs provided by the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). Tsupitero’s functions are quite contrary to what it is named after, which is a Filipino term for investors who bet on penny stocks hoping for big returns based on rumors and speculations.

With the online platform, investors need not cling to mere hush-hush to create smart investments as all the data an investor needs, from the market capitalization of one company to its price-to-earnings ratio, are showcased in a single place on the web. What sets it apart from the data readily available on the PSE website is its tracker feature, which allows users to keep an eye on the performance of several stocks in a single page.

With the feature, investors can easily decide on the stocks they would want to bet their money on as they get a side-by-side look on listed companies’ technical performance. It helps that the platform isn’t only accessible through a website, but has a mobile app as well. And for a fee, users can subscribe to the Tsupitero newsletter to receive expert guidance on which stock is poised to gain in the short term. Its user-friendly interface makes investing less intimidating for young investors and newbies.

eToro

Social trading platform eToro offers a similar promise. The platform not only provides valuable stock data, but also allows eligible traders to invest in some of the biggest stock markets in the world, like the New York and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges—wherever they may be. It gives locals, in this case, Filipinos, a chance to earn higher returns with their hard-earned money as they may invest on some of the world’s most valuable stocks, like Apple or Tencent.

Still, the platform’s bigger draw to millennials, or new investors in general, is its “social” aspect. eToro’s patented CopyTraderTM feature allows users to check their peers’ portfolios, market moves and risk scores, helping them earn valuable insights and become better traders.

One can’t help but think that the rising popularity of these digital startups has somehow helped create a more literate and active market, especially in emerging countries.

Traders’ profile

In the Philippines, traders aged between 18 and 29 years old have experienced a surge to 21 percent in 2018 from just 14 percent in 2015, helping the number of trade accounts in the country breach the one million mark.

In the past year, the country saw its online trading accounts almost double in number. In Indonesia, the country’s premier stock exchange has started to bank on millennial retail traders to keep its index resilient as foreign investors go elsewhere.

Somehow, these platforms have democratized stock trading, liberating not only young professionals from relying on a single income, but creating stronger financial markets too.

These are already promising numbers, but it’s just the beginning of a burgeoning stock market scene in the region.

A survey from Manulife Asset Management revealed 60 percent of high-income millennials in the region are saving, more than investing, showing there’s still a lot of room for the market to be assertive with their investment choices.

In emerging economies, like the Philippines and Indonesia, less than one percent of the population place their money in stocks—proving there are still millions of potential investors to tap.

These massive growth opportunities only show the bigger role online platforms may play not just in making smart investors, but in creating a more financially literate region—an outcome that can surely reverberate well beyond stock markets.


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