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New research shows Gen Z are immersing themselves in the world of investing

New York City, United States 24 May 2023

  • Research from CFA Institute and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) reveals how access to investment products, sources of investment knowledge, and macroeconomic uncertainty are factors in Gen Z’s financial decision making.
  • Four in five (82%) Gen Z investors surveyed in the U.S say they began investing before they turned 21, as did 79% of Canadian, 81% of UK and 63% of Chinese Gen Z investors.
  • 41% of Gen Z investors ages 18 to 25 surveyed in both the U.S. and Canada cite fear of missing out (“FOMO”) as a factor in their decision to start investing. 43% of Gen Z investors in the UK and 60% of those in China were also influenced by FOMO.

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, and the FINRA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that helps underserved Americans acquire the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions, have today published new research underlining the investment motivations and behaviors among Gen Z investors ages 18–25.

A survey of over 2,800 Gen Z, millennial and Gen X respondents from the U.S., Canada, the UK, and China examined the investment-related behaviors of those with and without investment accounts.

The report found that Gen Z individuals started investing due to a range of factors, including the ability to access financial information on social media and the proliferation of investing apps and cryptocurrencies.

Two in five Gen Z investors in the U.S. (41%), Canada (41%) and the UK (43%), and almost two in three (60%) of Gen Z investors in China cited ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) as a factor in their decision to start investing.

Paul Andrews, Managing Director for Research, Advocacy, and Standards, CFA Institute said:

“These new entrants to the world of investing are reshaping investment practices, products, and platforms. Our study has underlined the extent to which their investment habits differ significantly from their predecessor investor cohorts. A range of macroeconomic and social factors such as rising inflation, the growing popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrency, and social media ‘finfluencers’ are having a profound impact on how, where and what they invest in.

“While social media and investment apps are making it easier for Gen Z to access financial information, there are still barriers preventing many Gen Zs from getting started with investing. This includes a lack of financial education, which continues to be a cause for concern. Governments, regulators, and investment professionals have a collective role to play in helping Gen Z acquire the necessary knowledge to make well-informed, responsible investment decisions.”

Gerri Walsh, President, FINRA Foundation, said:

“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.”

Key findings from the research include:

  • More of Gen Z are investing than not: Canada has the highest proportion of Gen Zs who invest, with nearly three in four (74%) saying they own at least one investment, compared to more than one in two in China (57%) and the U.S. (56%), and 49% in the UK.
  • Crypto is a popular investment choice among Gen Z investors: More than two in five (44%) U.S. Gen Z investors first started out investing with crypto, compared to 35% of U.S. Millennial investors and 23% of U.S. Gen X investors. Crypto was also the most common investment Gen Z investors started out with in Canada (35%) and the UK (43%).
  • A large number of Gen Z investors started investing before they turned 21: More than four in five (82%) U.S. Gen Z investors began investing before they were 21, as did 79% of Canadian and 81% of UK Gen Z investors. In contrast, less than two thirds (63%) of Gen Z investors in China started investing prior to this age. Chinese Gen Z investors, however, have the largest median investment balances among the markets surveyed.
  • The majority of Gen Z investors are focused on travelling, but UK investors want to buy a home: 61% of U.S., 55% of Canadian, and 53% Chinese Gen Z investors say their top financial goal is having enough money to travel or go on vacation. Over half (55%) of Canadian Gen Z investors also cited being able to pay monthly bills as their top concern, while 48% of UK Gen Z investors (a plurality) state that their financial goal is to buy a home.
  • Most Gen Z investors rely on social media to learn about investing: Almost half of U.S. Gen Z investors (48%) use social media to learn about investing. It is the top information source for Gen Z investors in the U.S., Canada and the UK. It is the fourth most popular option for those in China, with the top information source being financial apps.
  • Barriers to investing remain: Lack of savings is the top reason Gen Zs in the U.S., Canada and China cite for not investing, whereas the top barrier for Gen Zs in the UK is not having enough income or living paycheck to paycheck. Over half of Gen Z investors in the U.S. (56%), Canada (56%) and the UK (58%) also state that a lack of knowledge around investing is a barrier to investing.


About the report

The total sample size is 2,872, comprising Gen Z (ages 18–25) investors and non-investors as well as millennial and Gen X investors in the U.S., Canada, UK, and China.

Data was collected in November and December 2022, and respondents were obtained using a combination of Schlesinger’s proprietary online panel and social media advertising on TikTok and Instagram.

While Gen Z are often defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, for the purposes of this study, the research sampled only those ages 18 to 25. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 26 to 41 at the time of the survey). Gen X are those born between 1965 and 1980 (ages 42 to 57 at the time of the survey).

Within each generation, U.S. participants were sampled to be balanced to the population on age, region, race/ethnicity, and gender. In addition, the results in the U.S. and the U.K. are balanced on income. For the UK, participants were sampled to be balanced on gender, age, race, and income (for Gen Z). For Canada and China, participants were sampled to be balanced on age and gender.

The research was sponsored by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and CFA Institute. It was executed in partnership with Zeldis Research Associates.

For the full report, visit: https://www.cfainstitute.org/research/industry-research/gen-z-investing


About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 190,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 160 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and 160 local societies. For more information, visit www.cfainstitute.org or follow us on Linkedin and Twitter at @CFAInstitute

About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout their lives. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.


FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.


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