The traditional image of an investor is that of a suited individual, heading off each day to watch the computer screens at stock exchanges in New York, London, or Tokyo, ever ready to make phone calls as they hurry to buy and sell. For anyone else wanting to invest, it used to mean calling a stockbroker and issuing instructions on what to buy or sell. However, in recent years that has changed, now the typical investor might well be working from their home or fitting it around an unrelated career: investment is now far more accessible. This move towards greater accessibility has been fueled by the advances in tech that have allowed increasing numbers of people to discover the world of investing.
Computing And The Internet
Over the past decades, computers have become far more powerful. Once the first electronic stock market (the NASDAQ) launched in 1971, there began to be a move away from fast-paced, crowded trading platforms as traders could now buy and sell digitally. The arrival of the internet increased that trend, with the first online trading platforms arriving in the late 1980s. In the twenty-first century, internet access in the home became commonplace, opening these online trading platforms to a broader audience.
Online brokers were quick to notice these new traders, so they provided easy-to-use platforms with the latest news and analysis readily available for their clients. Brokers introduced features such as demo trading so the novice trader could get to grips with the trading platforms without risking capital. Many provide online webinars, videos, and eBooks to allow novice traders to learn their craft. As technology advanced, these trading platforms became cheaper to use, allowing low costs and commission-free trading. These trading platforms are available even to those with a small amount of capital to invest. With transactions taking mere moments to execute, investing can fit with even the busiest of lifestyles.
It is not merely stocks and shares that are more accessible. It is also easier to complete other forms of trading. Real estate, for example, used to mean investing somewhere geographically nearby if you wanted to view the property. Now virtual tours can allow you to make sound real estate investments anywhere in the world.
Internet use is no longer restricted to the home or office. Mobile technology allows the internet to be accessed from almost anywhere. Investors can trade from a café in their lunch break or on the train during the commute home. Online brokers make using mobile devices easy with unique mobile versions or apps of their online trading platforms. Also, online banking makes it straightforward to move money, with most banks also having their own banking apps.
The internet also makes it easier to connect with others worldwide through forums and social media platforms. On online forums, you can chat with other traders, sharing tips and information on suitable investments.
Social media also makes it easy to follow or even contact investment experts. Gone are the days when such experts were anonymous figures, only available at the end of the phone. Now platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn allow you to ‘meet’ these people and hear their latest advice and predictions. To get the very best advice, it is possible to follow senior figures in companies like Solitude Capital Management, whose founding partner and Chief Investment Officer Joel Werner, an investor with a wealth of experience across several financial institutions, has a social media presence.
Technology has not only popularized investment it has also opened up new forms of investing. Bitcoin was the first and best-known cryptocurrency, but there are now many others, including Ethereum and Litecoin. Designed to provide a secure payment system, investment in cryptocurrencies has attracted considerable attention from both professional and casual investors.
Crowdfunding and Loans
Crowdfunding and lending platforms link investors and entrepreneurs with investors. Peer-to-peer lending platforms can allow people with just a small amount of capital to invest in new projects or start-ups. Although heavily regulated, this form of investing is becoming more popular.
Technology will undoubtedly continue to advance rapidly, and with it will come advances in investments and increased accessibility. While it is impossible to know precisely what the future holds, already artificial intelligence (AI) is taking hold as financial institutions use it to identify fraud. That reassures traders as investing becomes more secure. AI is also used to analyze trends and trading platforms, manage portfolios and efficiently execute trades. The use of Robo-advisors, first seen in 2009, has increased, reducing management and commission fees. Machine-led trading is likely to become a field of tech that continues to advance, reducing the costs involved and making the world of investment ever more accessible.
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