[Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug. 8, 2019, to update Stash’s pricing to its new model.]
The fintech industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds and with that growth have come lots of new investing apps for investors, young and old, to use in their pursuit of investment returns.
In 2018, fintech companies in the U.S. got $12.4 billion in funding, 43% higher than a year earlier. Many of those fintech companies are using the funding to develop apps to make investing and personal finance more accessible and more rewarding.
According to CB Insights, there are something like 39 fintechs worth $1 billion or more. Together, those 39 companies are worth an estimated $147.4 billion.
Consumers like to use apps to manage their finances. Data from 2016 suggests the average person uses between 1-3 apps to get the job done. As fintechs continue to create new apps to handle different aspects of our financial lives, I’m sure more young investors will gravitate to them.
With that in mind, here are 10 investment apps for young investors to consider, as they put their hard-earned money to work.
The problem for most young investors is that they don’t have a lot of money to invest because of student loans, steep rents, low wages etc. While understandable, the Acorns app allows you to invest your spare change to get the process started.
Another exciting service Acorns has developed is Found Money, which uses brand loyalty to build your investment account. So, every time you buy something at one of the Found Money partners, that company credits your Acorns account with the applicable savings.
The one thing to be aware of is the fees. Until you get a larger account balance, the monthly fees vary between $1-$3. That is going to seem high.
For example, it charges $2 a month for an IRA account. If you have $1,000 in that account, the annual fee is 2.4%. If you have $10,000, that fee drops to 0.24%.
If you’re going to buy stocks, ETFs, or even mutual funds, you’re going to need a discount brokerage account to buy the investments.
E-Trade isn’t the cheapest discount broker. It charges $6.95 a trade, but gets a 4.5 rating out of 5 from NerdWallet, primarily because of its excellent mobile app, excellent customer support and large investment selection.
The discount broker has two mobile apps that are both available on iOS and Android.
The E-Trade mobile investing app provides options such as stock screening that help you find the right stocks to buy. It can even be accessed on Apple Watch. The second mobile app is OptionsHouse, the company’s options specialist, that lets you make options trades on the go.
It doesn’t hurt that E-Trade’s parent is E-Trade Financial (NASDAQ:ETFC), a company with an $11.4 billion market cap.
The only downside: you’ll pay more per trade if you aren’t an active trader.
If you can’t save any money, you won’t be able to invest. That’s where Mint.com comes into play.
Mint is a free personal finance app from Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) that helps users track their spending, create a budget, and generally gets you smarter about money. It even lets you know when bills are due and what you can afford to pay.
Over 15 million people use Mint in the U.S. and Canada to keep their finances straight. Intuit uses this free app to inform you about its other products such as Turbo Tax, which cost money to use and are also very helpful for saving money.
It’s an excellent loss leader. It will put you on stronger financial footing if you use it on an ongoing basis.
Young investors interested in investing apps might want to take a look at Motif Investing, the California tech startup that uses data science and automation to create thematic portfolios that its 350,000 customers can buy with a click of a button.
CEO Hardeep Walia found a way to use data science to find the best investment themes and companies benefiting from those themes.
If you want to bet on the next great biotech stock, Motif has a portfolio called Feeling Better About Biotech, a basket of up to 30 biotech stocks and ETFs that gives you an appropriate exposure to the industry.
For as little as $300 in your trading account, you can own this portfolio of stocks. Motif also has an Impact account. For as little as $1,000 in your account, you can get a fully automated portfolio that aligns with your financial goals and values.
The Impact account charges 0.25% annually while the trading account varies from free if you use a next market open trade to as high as $19.95 a trade depending on the type of portfolio you’re building.
If you’re interested in owning one or two stocks, Motif is probably not for you.
Of the apps listed in this article, Robinhood is the investing app most likely followed and used by millennials. Robinhood officially launched in December 2014. It provides commission-free investing in stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies.
Since its founding Robinhood has grown to a customer base of over four million active users, many of them young investors; its average user is 32. Estimates suggest that Robinhood, which counts Snoop Dog as an investor, could be valued at as much as $10 billion.
Robinhood came under scrutiny in 2018 when it tried to launch a checking account for its customers that would pay 3%, didn’t charge any fees and was covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. The program never got off. It is currently working with regulators to create a cash management plan that will get off the ground.
In the meantime, the commission-free service for trading continues to gain popularity with investors.
Its official name at its founding in 2011 was Social Finance Inc. It made student loans. Eight years later, it still makes student loans but has expanded into other areas of financial services, including personal loans, mortgages, bank accounts, and investing products and services.
On July 8, SoFi launched Stock Bits, a new service that allows investors to buy fractional shares of popular stocks. If you want to own a dollar’s worth of 50 stocks, you now can. It’s specifically designed for those who are new to investing.
“People are told to ‘buy what they like,’ but when what they like costs over $100 or $1,000 per share, first-time investors are priced out,” said Anthony Noto, CEO at SoFi. “Investing is a financial requirement for achieving financial independence, and it is our focus to remove the barriers to getting started by providing features like Stock Bits for SoFi Invest.”
SoFi had a challenging year in 2018. Laying off more than 7% of its staff due to weakness in its mortgage products, I believe Stock Bits could be an innovation that lifts the San Francisco financial services company to new heights.
The Stash Investment App was launched in October 2015. It’s premise was simple: provide Americans with the tools, guidance and confidence to grow their savings. Almost four years later, Stash has more than 3.5 million people saving and investing using its investing app.
For as little as $5, you can own fractional shares in companies you support and believe in. However, we’re not done. It also allows you to invest in portfolios of stocks through ETFs for as little as $5. That means you can own some of the most popular ETFs for a fraction of what you’d pay to hold them on your own.
The Money Under 30 website recently reviewed the Stash investing app, suggesting it is well made and well designed. Competing with Acorns for the attention of young investors, Stash has three monthly subscriptions available charging $1, $3 or $9 per month depending on the plan you choose.
Stash has moved to a subscription model, dropping the 0.25% annual management fee. However, you will pay the management fees of the ETFs in your account, in addition to the monthly subscription fee. There are no minimum balances for all three plans.
Wealthsimple is a Toronto-based robo-advisor that provides ready-made investment portfolios to people in Canada, the U.S., and the UK. Founded in 2014, it now controls 70% of the digital advisory space in Canada and is slowly making inroads in the U.S. where it launched in early 2017.
At the end of March, Wealthsimple had CAD$4.3 billion in assets under management and more than 100,000 clients in the three countries where it operates.
In March, the company launched Wealthsimple Trade, which provides commission-free investing in Canada for stocks and ETFs. It’s the first company in Canada to do what Robinhood’s doing in the U.S.
It’s managed to snag 25,000 users in the first four months of operation; the average age of its users is 31. Like Robinhood, a lot of its users are buying cannabis stocks. The banks are also popular, as are some of the big tech companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).
Delivering an attractive and easy to use mobile app, expect Wealthsimple to make waves in the U.S. market in the next couple of years.
At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.