- Retail trading apps could cause issues for young investors according to money expert Tori Dunlap.
- She thinks the apps do not educate their users enough and are not inclusive to minority groups.
- Robinhood was recently forced to pay $70 million after FINRA accused the app of causing harm to customers.
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Young investors, and Gen-Zers in particular, are pouring their spare cash into things like cryptocurrencies and meme stocks, drawn in by the social media communities that have banded together to take on Wall Street giants, and popularized by retail trading apps like Robinhood.
As positive as it is to see young people get involved with their own finances, these apps might be doing more harm than good, seeing as they don’t educate their users enough and aren’t particularly inclusive places, according to ‘finfluencer’ and personal finance expert Tori Dunlap.
Dunlap, who has millions of followers on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and runs personal finance education and advice brand ‘Her First $100K’, says the problem with these apps is they are appeal to new, young investors that are often unaware of risks, or what a good investing strategy is due to a lack of education on the subject.
“They’re focusing on young people, which is great, but young people who don’t really know what they’re doing. They don’t really know how to invest, don’t really know how to grow their wealth and so I think that that’s a huge risk.” she told Insider in an interview. “Going after this certain population is great, but what are you doing to educate them? What are you doing to make they understand a risk before, you know, the risks involved before they start investing?” she said.
Dunlap knows a thing or two about looking after her finances. She started her first business age 9 and by the time she was 25, she’d built up savings worth $100,000.
Retail trading has soared in popularity over the past 18 months throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with apps like Robinhood or platforms like eToro seeing booming business. But they’re not without pitfalls.
Just last month Robinhood agreed to pay nearly $70 million to US regulators to settle claims it had misled millions of customers, approved ineligible traders for risky strategies, and didn’t supervise technology that locked millions out of trading. This was the largest fine on record to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Alongside this, retail trading apps and social media influencers who talk about finance have pushed the idea of democratizing trading, meaning that anyone can do it and they don’t necessarily need financial professionals to help them make money from investing.
Robinhood was not available for comment when contacted by Insider.
Dunlap said apps like Robinhood have done well at making investing more interesting and appealing to young people , which she thinks is key in terms of them starting in growing their wealth early in life, but she also believes they still have a long way to go.
Trading apps often “gamify” activity, rewarding users with little bursts of digital confetti on their screens when they make a trade, or playing little jingles to notify them of updates. There have been well-documented cases of users that have suffered the equivalent of gambling additions as a result, for example.
Another one of her qualms is that the community the trading apps create aren’t especially inclusive. The lack of educational tools is one issue, but Dunlap said she thinks it reaches all the way to these apps are designed, which she describes as ‘bro-y’.
“It’s not really a democratization if it doesn’t involve minority groups, if it doesn’t also involve women, and people of color and other members of other minority groups,” Dunlap said. “Yes, it’s, like, appealing to younger people, but it’s not straight white male hedge fund managers, it’s just straight white male ‘finance bros.'”