Gen Z Investors Start Surprisingly Early, Prefer Crypto to Stocks

A new study on Gen Z investors reveals a combination of digital native behavior and personal touches.

Gen Z Investor reading
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the youngest generation of investors, Gen Z have developed their own unique approach to investing education and management. A new joint study from The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and CFA Institute reveals a nuanced investing picture that defies generational stereotypes.

Gen Z blends digital-first investing with family input

The new FINRA/CFA report sheds light on the unique set of investing behaviors developed by Gen Z, identified as roughly 18-25 year olds. At the top level, it details that 82% of Gen Z investors started before the age of 21, and 25% began doing so before turning 18 years old. On the whole, 56% of Gen Z have some kind of investments. 

Asset types

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Of the Gen Zers who invest, 55% are primarily invested in cryptocurrency, 19% of investing Gen Zers hold only cryptocurrency assets, 41% have money in individual stocks, and 35% invest in mutual funds.


The report reveals that 41% of Gen Z'ers invest because of "fear of missing out", or "FOMO." This is the old principle of getting a hot stock tip at the office or at a family reunion, turbocharged by the spread of social media. Now, just as they're able to compare themselves physically to an infinite number of people on the internet, young adults can compare themselves financially as well.

Average holdings

Investors from Gen Z hold on average roughly $4,000 in investments, spread across all asset classes. It may be a small initial bid, but the important thing is to get into the market as early as possible to take advantage of the magic power of compounding

Information sources

Forty-eight percent of respondents rely on social media for investing education. The next most likely information sources for Gen Z investors are internet searches / websites (47%) and their parents or family (45%). 

Ironically, when asked which sources they trusted the most, Gen Z investors reshuffled the deck, placing parents and family at the top (27%), followed by financial professionals (24%), and website searches (18%). Social media scored only 12%, below financial companies, friends, and even colleges.

This demonstrates a fundamental disconnect: Gen Z has a healthy appetite for investing guidance from trusted financial professionals and institutions, but frictionless interaction with social media exposes them to much more digital finance content that they trust less.

Gerri Walsh, president of FINRA, said of the report: "The Gen Z population is diverse and digitally savvy. They are using mobile technology to enter the financial markets in unprecedented numbers and consulting a wide range of information sources as they do so. It is vital to understand their investing decisions and to provide them with the educational tools to prepare for those decisions."

The Gen Z population is diverse and digitally savvy...using mobile technology to enter the financial markets in unprecedented numbers and consulting a wide range of...sources.

Gerri Walsh, FINRA president

An investing roadmap for Gen Z 

Gen Z seems to have a great head start on investing for their futures and financial goals. However, having 60% of Gen Z investors reliant on YouTube as their primary news source presents some problems. Here are some tips for Gen Z to build a healthy investing strategy

  • Know your investing goals. Do you want to travel the world, save to buy a home, pay off your college debt right now, or save for retirement?
  • Once you outline your goals, seek advice. Avoid investing with advisors that don't seem to know or care about your personal long-term goals. Your parents can be helpful, but usually a professional adviser has more on the ground insight. 
  • Younger investors can afford to speculate on some riskier assets, but you shouldn't build your whole portfolio around Dogecoin
  • Consider investments that align with your values, potentially by targeting ESG funds and companies that have positive impacts on the environment and society.
  • Use the internet to find tools that help you build your goals, set up a livable budget, and research different types of investments. 
  • If you can't find a real advisor or mentor to help you directly, consider using robo advisers backed by actual financial advisers.

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Ben Demers
Audience Engagement Manager,

Ben Demers manages digital content and engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a range of personal finance articles, e-newsletters, social media, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behavior, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.