Straight-talking finance platform Boring Money has released its latest Online Investing Report, tracking the DIY investing landscape over the last 12 months. Based on a survey of more than 6,300 UK adults, it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand emerging trends and consumer behaviour in self-directed investing. The annual report studies both the behaviours and attitudes of UK retail investors, as well as those of cash savers with no investments. We’ve rounded up five key insights of note for finance marketers.

1. Overall engagement continues to rise

We know the pandemic sparked a surge of DIY investment activity. And while the increase for 2022 is not as marked, the report uncovered a continued rise in the level of engagement with accounts over the last year. There are more people checking the balance of their product and getting more frequently engaged with their investments. Boring Money said that this has been driven by increased ease of use in new products and on mobile devices. This is particularly interesting for asset managers who have previously shied away from engaging with the private investor market potential, as the evidence increasingly suggests this is a group that is highly engaged and has potential.

2. Influx of beginner investors

More new investors are dipping their toes in the DIY pond, and a significant number have only modest cash buffers in place. According to the report, one in five (21 per cent) of the UK retail investor population is made up of people with less than three years’ experience investing (7 per cent) have been investing less than a year). Of these new investors, a quarter are living in rented accommodation, while 18 per cent live with their parents.

The report shows that 27% of people investing today have less than £10,000 in total cash and investment assets, with the majority of this group being younger adults. Many of these investors have cited the influence of those around them as the spur to open their first account. As many as 40% of investors aged 18-24, say that a friend or family member encouraged them to open their first investment product. Given interest rates and just the general cost of everything, the figures are hardly surprising. However this also means that there are plenty of products that asset managers offer which could be very appealing – particularly those low-cost, multi-asset propositions.

Mobile is becoming more dominant

The use of mobile as a means to access investment accounts is up compared to the previous year. In the data for 2022, 43% of investors report checking the balance on their account on mobile – for 2021 this was 36%. Among those surveyed, 19% reported buying or selling through a mobile app, up from 16% for 2021. Mobile functionality is especially critical for new and younger investors, who said it’s one of the key factors that influences which provider they select. The wider population, however, are more likely to prioritise telephone support. The message for marketers is clear – a mobile-first strategy is crucial when targeting new and younger investors.

Crypto ownership has surged

The proportion of adults aged under 45 who own crypto assets has doubled, rising from 6% in 2021 to 12% over the past 12 months. Ownership among the over 45s was significantly lower at 3% this year, compared with 2% in 2021. Overall, 7% of the UK adult population holds some crypto assets today, and a further 3% state they have held cryptos in the past.

Whilst this growth trajectory worries many, we have to agree with Boring Money CRO Holly Mackay who noted that “trying to pretend that crypto doesn't exist is not the most helpful approach to take because it's ignoring something that is important for 12% of that that customer base, whatever your narrative around it.” Instead, we should see this growing cohort as a potential customer base that could be tapped into. We need to ask ourselves why and what can we learn from crypto companies that are obviously appealing to more and more people.

Potential investors are sitting in cash

The report shows that although many cash savers have suffered during the pandemic, average cash savings balances have surged. Those with cash savings but no investments now hold £17,000 compared with £14,600 in 2021, and 30 per cent have in excess of GBP10,000.

Boring Money CEO, Holly Mackay, said: “There is a ‘book end’ effect in the DIY investment market today. At one end we have millions of people in cash, with significant balances, and no investments. At the other end, we have some relatively inexperienced, mostly younger investors holding extremely volatile assets. There is a more natural middle ground for millions, and providers have to find some answers on how transition more customers to that more comfortable middle ground.” This is interesting to us as it represents a particularly big opportunity for asset managers who offer relatively low volatile, well diversified products, appealing to both book ends simultaneously. The question is, when will asset managers start really investing in appealing to this audience as more than an afterthought?

You can find out more about Boring Money's Online Investing Report 2022, and request the full report, here.