A Public.com Report

Millions of Americans are entering the stock market for the first time with mindsets and behaviors unlike any generation that has come before. We dug deeper than the memes to better understand who these investors really are. Their stories may surprise you.


Here comes the counterculture.

New investors, defined here as those that started in the past three years via a mobile app, believe they're part of a movement that's making investing more inclusive and accessible.

59 %
59 %

feel that app-based investors have a different investing culture than traditional investors.

While only 14% are bold enough to say they are investing to "take down old Wall Street," 39% say they have purchased at least one meme stock.


More than memes.

Contrary to the stereotypes, new wave investors are thoughtful in their approach.

81 %
81 %

of investors who purchased a meme stock said they went on to diversify their portfolios.

Over half of them (61%) are in it for long-term financial stability. Furthermore, 19% say they want to invest in companies that have a positive impact on the world.


From dividends to dreams.

Most new wave investors are working toward longer-term goals that extend far beyond their phone screens.

76 %
76 %

say investing will help them accomplish bigger dreams.

They aspire to build enough wealth to start their own businesses, gain financial independence, and begin families.


First in the family.

New wave app investors don't typically come from families who taught them about investing; in fact, a majority of them are first-generation investors.

56 %
56 %

say their parents did not own stocks.

Moreover, 60% of these investors said their parents were financially insecure.


You are what you own.

For many new investors, the stocks they own are a window into their identity.

41 %
41 %

say their investments are a better indicator of who they are than their own internet search history.

Nearly half the respondents say their investments reveal what they are passionate about. Twelve percent of them said they’d reveal their holdings on a dating app, and a brave 3%—roughly 1.1 million Americans—would tattoo a favorite ticker on their body.


Growing (social) capital.

Being savvy about the stock market isn't just good for potential gains.

39 %
39 %

believe that being an educated investor gives you serious social capital.

Respondents told us being a strong investor gives someone as much clout as having 10,000 followers on Instagram. 15% would refuse to sleep with someone if they did not approve of their investments.


Time well spent.

New wave app investors are spending time learning to spend (and save).

63 %
63 %

say that learning about investing makes them feel more powerful.

More than half of new investors (53%) say they view building financial literacy as a hobby. Learning about the markets is even cutting into other behaviors: 36% of respondents say they have reduced their consumption of pornography since making their first investment.


The new news.

New investors say they get their information from a range of sources, including some more untraditional channels.

27 %
27 %

use Reddit as a news source on the markets, compared to 18% who said CNBC.

New investors get their information from a range of sources, and the most popular source was their investing app (53%). Friends and family was the second-most popular source (35%). Among social platforms, YouTube is much more popular than TikTok (47% vs. 12%).


Money talks.
So do people.

Thanks to the accessibility that app investing provides, people are having more open conversations about their money and finances.

73 %
73 %

have encouraged a friend or family member to start investing.

More than half of new wave investors say they've brought up investing while hanging out with their friends, and 14% made new friends through investing communities. Stock talk even appears to be bridging the generational divide: 29% of respondents have talked about investing with their parents.

What comes after the moon?

New wave app investors have flexed the strength of their influence. As even more people enter the stock market, there’s no doubt investing culture will continue to evolve. And at Public, we’ll be there, making the markets work for everyone.


Fielded in partnership with Nonfiction Research. Nonfiction Research’s quantitative sample was collected over a one-week period, totaling 1,004 completed responses, using a 95% confidence level and a 3% margin of error, based on an adult US population of 220,000,000. An original sample was collected which was then weighted to demographic characteristics of the US population including, but not limited to: geography, age, gender, ethnicity, income, education level, job type, and political affiliation. Weighting is combinatory in nature, such that demographic characteristics are mapped to known American Community Survey (also known as the census) data rather than individually weighted in a vacuum. Nonfiction's approach also utilizes a technique called "known sampling" in which the identity of respondents is verified for accuracy.

Want even more insights? Download the full report.