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Investment apps put the stock market at the fingertips of BU students

With the rise of investment smartphone apps, specifically ones that target young adults, Bishop’s students can buy and sell stocks as easily as posting on instagram.

Modern technology has made the stock market more accessible than ever. Not only is tracking stock prices easy with the internet, you can also research news to help decide what companies you want to invest in. Most importantly, you can do the trading itself, remotely.

Before the rise of the internet, stocks were traded directly by professional stock brokers on behalf of their clients. This restricted the hobby or business of trading to those privileged enough to afford it. For trading to be economical, trades would have to be large enough to offset the substantial brokerage fees, so traders would have to be heavily invested.

Bishop’s students are often part of a demographic left out of the above criteria. Often on a tight budget, college kids spend their income on necessities like food, textbooks, and of course, partying. Any remaining discretionary income is not in large quantity. Investment websites and applications recognized this fact and decided to target this untapped market.

Although the internet is nothing new, the investment apps that are blowing up in colleges are a fairly recent development.

Robinhood, a premier trading app favoured by many in the 18-22 age group, launched in 2015. Wealthsimple, an extremely popular Canadian equivalent to Robinhood, launched their app in 2018.

Justin Grout is a politics student at Bishop’s who uses Robinhood to invest. “I use it to learn about watching the market and to gain experience while keeping it low-risk,” he explained. Justin does this by only investing small amounts of money.

The vast majority of these innovative apps do not require you to deposit a minimum amount of money to access their services. They allow you to trade with as much or little as you like. This makes the app accessible to users like Justin.

Patrick Thompson, a business student, is a Robinhood aficionado. Patrick says that Justin’s experience is part of the beauty of Robinhood. Commenting further, he stated, “Without broker and commission fees, Robinhood is an extremely cost-efficient way to trade… Personally, I am very happy to be able to trade on this app and learn from my mistakes without having to pay any extra fees on top of my shares purchased.”

Make no mistake, this attractive convenience is by design. Robinhood has an entire section on its website devoted to college students who want to begin investing. Wealthsimple shares in its mission statement that it was created specifically for young adults.

When asked about other features that appeal to him and likely to other young adults, Patrick brought up the design and interface of Robinhood. “The display is very aesthetically pleasing and the charts and information [are] easily accessible.”

The biggest change brought by these apps is accessibility and creating a world where the stock market is relatively less white-collar professional centric.

With their avant-garde interfaces, and no commission fees or minimum deposits, these apps succeed in whipping up the perfect storm for university students. “Apps like these are quite simply the perfect platform to learn,” Patrick concluded.

© 2020 David Rossiter

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