Sept. 20, 2021

The retail investing revolution is here (Ft. Public)

The retail investing revolution is here (Ft. Public)

Investing isn’t the old rich dudes’ game anymore. It’s yours, it’s mine, it’s everyone’s. But what are the ramifications of this rapid democratization of investing, this revolutionary tide change in the stock market?


What happens in the post-meme stonk world, one in which the definition of “investor” looks nothing like it did a decade ago? What might our investing habits and goals mean for platforms and their responsibility?


And most it better to have meme-stocked and lost than to never have stocked at all?


On this episode of Thinking Is Cool created in partnership with, we’re finding out. is a free investing social network app that allows you to both own parts of the companies you believe in and share ideas about your investing strategy with your community. I’m a fan and an active user (follow me here).


Download the app today or sign up online at with the code STAYCOOL to receive $10 in free stock. Just remember: This offer is valid for U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to join. Visit for more information.


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Hello there, everyone, and thank you for pressing play. You made the right choice to invest a little time in this show...and I know past performance is no guarantee of future results, but I think we’re on a roll so far this season.


This is Thinking Is Cool, the show designed to make your next conversation better than your last, wherever that conversation may be. My name is Kinsey Grant and I’m a frenetic, highly random investor and the host of this show.


My goal since I started Thinking Is Cool has always been to do my best to wrap my arms around the kind of topics that are driving discourse not just now, but for years to come. We’ve talked about porn and climate change and cryptocurrency and dating apps and drugs and so much more.


Throughout my season and a half of Thinking Is Cool, though, there has been one near-constant theme: Empowering those historically marginalized. And doing so in an effort to architect a better, fairer future.


Today, arguably more than in any episode I’ve published to date, that theme is on display. We’re going to spend the next half-hour or so talking about the retail investing revolution, from GameStonk to Gary Gensler. Because this isn’t your parents’ game’s yours. You’re swinging the pendulum of the investing world away from its traditional source of power...and right into the hands of the millions of young investors who decided Reddit was as good a reason as any to start investing.


I mean, really think about it...before this year, would you have ever brought up your investment strategies on a first date? Or at a pregame? Or at all? Probably not. But’re as likely to hear “dude I sold my GME position so high” as you are “I call next on pong.” The world has changed.


And today is all about understanding the ramifications of that change—of this new wave of retail investing—this democratization of the stock market and all its upside, along with all its risk.


This is important. The context is important. The motives are important. And that’s not just my econ minor talking...I’ll explain more in just a sec, but for now, this is my reason for making this episode: I truly believe that leveling the playing field in investing will change the world for the better. So let’s talk about why and how.


This episode is a special one. It’s been produced as a partnership with our friends at And I actually mean friends—Katie, Jannick and Leif, Victoria, Michael...they’re just some of the really cool people we get to jam out on investing and tech and media with. They put me on a billboard, I host a show on Public every Wednesday...and most importantly, I’m a Public user.


I’ve told you about Public before this season, but for good measure: is a free social investing app—that means you can invest in companies you believe in while also learning more about what other Public investors are up to with their own portfolios. Like I said, I’m a big fan and active user for a lot of reasons. Some of them? Public is super diverse and users really are from all walks of life. It’s also really fun that they give you free stock for referring friends. If you want to see what I’m investing in, check me out on the Public app. I’m at Kinsey.


So get ready for an honest account of this retail investing revolution and a solid idea of what we can do to ensure that we’re empowering the masses...and not leading them to the personal finance slaughterhouse. 


As always, nothing is off limits, everything is on the table, take it anywhere. And remember, thinking is cool and so are you.


*Fade out intro music*


Pop quiz: What is the single best wealth creation mechanism known to man? Answer...


STEPHEN: US stocks are the single best wealth creation mechanism, you know, known to man.


And we’re not just talking about GameStop. I’ll introduce you to that voice in just a minute, but before I do...give that concept a second to sink in. US stocks are the single best wealth creation mechanism known to man.




And at long last, that wealth creation is no longer limited to old white dudes who pop Qualuudes like candy and use the words “net worth” without being ironic. We’ve found ourselves at the cusp of a social revolution that is, in a lot of ways, born not of Woodstock but of the stock market.


An enormous shift has happened throughout the post-financial crisis years. Made acutely aware of the distinct lack of trust millennial and gen z generations have in institutions like the Fed or the SEC or even the banking system writ large...the investing world changed.


Newcomers and incumbents alike began to listen to entire generations previously left out of the conversation. Investing became easier. It became cheaper. It became faster. And it became something for everyone...or at least for everyone who wanted to participate.


Growing up as both 1) a young girl and 2) a young girl in the south, I was scarcely exposed to the riches of smart investing from an early age. I didn’t know the difference between stocks and bonds until college. I didn’t know what a balance sheet was until 2014. Hedge funds went definitonless in my mind for many years, symbolic of something I only needed to know about if I became rich and famous. On the rare occasion I thought about stocks, I envisioned men in suits screaming “BUY BUY BUY” on the floor of the NYSE.


Today, I’m not rich and I’m not famous, but I know what a hedge fund is. I’ve visited the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and I’ve found there’s far less frenetic energy than you might expect. I can invest sitting in my pajamas on my couch using the Public app on my phone. In fact...I’m gonna do it. Alright, opening the app...go to my profile...scrolling through some names I’ve been watching. Oh, this one I feel ready to buy—and with the touch of a couple of buttons...I’ll soon be the proud owner of some shares of a metaverse ETF. How easy was that?


Think about how your parents invested in stocks—they put in an order with their stock guy, who may or may not have been a Jordan Belfort type, paid him a ton to execute their trades, and hoped for the best. You’re doing what used to take days in a matter of seconds, and you’re doing it from your phone.


Investing has been democratized. Fractional shares and commission-free trading and buttery smooth interfaces have irrevocably changed the game. Stock tips are as common as Kiehl’s ads on TikTok. If you have an extra $5, you can become an investor.


But history has taught us that anything becoming “for the masses” carries as much opportunity for risk as it does opportunity for...well, opportunity. And when we do it all on the internet, we heighten the stakes of everything.


So that’s what we’re thinking about today: Democratization is good, but it can be complicated. Are we introducing the next generation to some SEC-sanctioned gambling, or are we empowering them to take control of their wealth creation? How do we ensure that we only break the right rules when it comes to investing? How do we do this right?


Let’s get to thinking.


It’s hard to democratize something unless that something was traditionally cordoned off for a select few...and that’s exactly what investing has typically been like.


According to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances in 2019, the stock market was about as rich, white, and old as a country club golf course on a Wednesday afternoon.

  • Families in the top 10% of incomes held 70% of the value of all stocks in 2019. The bottom 60% of earners held only 7% of stocks by value.
  • People under 35 years old held only 1.4% of all stocks in 2019.
  • And while 61% of white, non-Hispanic families owned stocks in 2019, only 34% of Black families and 24% of Hispanic families did.


These disparities are both cause and effect of a devil we know—income gaps based on race, gender, and background. For example, if I were making less money than my male counterparts at work, I would have less money to invest in the stock market. In this hypothetical, I’m already behind based on my paycheck, but not being able to invest makes it worse, seeing as I’m losing out on what would have been last year’s 16% gain in the S&P 500. And don’t even get me started on compounding returns. 


In a lot of ways, the gap in who is and isn’t an investor is also cultural. The collective memory of recent generations’ upbringings has been...impactful, to say the least. I’m handing the mic to Stephen Sikes, the COO of Public who’s spent the better part of his career so far focused on expanding the definition of investor.


STEPHEN: I realized both personally and then with respect to all my peers and, you know, my, my wife included that, that our generation, uh, meaning millennials more broadly had come up through a strange time, uh, with respect to investing. Um, you know, we, we'd all experienced the financial crisis, uh, a, uh, F in our formative years, um, which I think undermines some of the trust in, in markets overall and, and for a lot of people, for sure. And then we've also been probably the first generation to grow up with a really, really massive amount of student debt specifically. Uh, and I think those two things have conspired to. Keep our generation really behind the curve in terms of saving and investing.


The odds were, as it seems, stacked against us. Us being an entire generation of people. But it’s not all cultural doom and socioeconomic gloom. Despite the fact that these investing and income gaps still exist in very big and very burdensome ways...they are changing.


...courtesy of young investing apps. Armed with user-friendly design and relatable branding and a focus on investing based on your own values...these newcomers changed the game. They brought new-age Silicon Valley tech to a very stale sector.


It’s hard to overstate how big of a development this was. So I won’t try...I’ll ask. Stephen?


STEPHEN: And if you zoom back to like 2000, for instance, and you've got a hundred dollars, what can you do with that first hundred dollars? Right. You're going to go to E-Trade or you're going to go to Schwab, or you're going to go to TD Ameritrade and you're going to spend. You know, 5, 10, 15, 20 $5 in commissions to put that first hundred bucks to work like no, where you're going to use your head ups, keeping it in your bank account until you get to a number that you feel like is significant enough where you can sort of deal with the commissions much less like many of those platforms at the time had sort of account minimums.


And so what we've seen is actually the sort of minimum, the minimum viable amount that you can begin, your investing journey really has dropped from something in the thousands. So now, like it's not even a hundred, like I think, you know, if you've got 10 bucks a week or 10 bucks, every two weeks to put in, you can out build a reasonably diversified portfolio, literally a dollar at a time.


And we've got tons of members that do exactly that and they can buy 10 different stocks, a dollar at a time in fractional shares with no commissions and just unlocking that sort of accessibility all the way through sort of the saving spectrum was super important.


What Stephen is referring to is commission-free trading, one of the new norms these apps like Public pioneered. They crafted their business models such that they don’t have to charge you to buy and sell stocks like old school brokerages used to. You trade for free and they make money elsewhere, like, for example, charging you interest on the money you keep in your account on the app. Revenue streams like that replace trading fees.


Removing commission from the equation lowered the barrier to entry. That in turn opened the floodgates for more accessible investing for the masses. Apps like Public and its peers like Robinhood and eventually even the incumbents like Fidelity and TD specifically crafted their strategies to welcome more investors into the fold.


STEPHEN: It used to cost dollars when you had to have somebody passing a placard, like back and forth and like, um, you know, really to like, you know, have like Mandy human. Yeah. Manually write a trade ticket, right? To now technology fully being brought to bear on the industry.


And again, that same, same evolution. It's gone from dollars to execute a trade down to pennies. And like, I think when you look at just like the incremental improvements in, uh, that the industry has made really over the last, you know, 30 years in terms of the quality of the technology and the cost to offer these services, it's gone just, just dramatically down.


And they didn’t stop at free trades. The Publics of the world began offering fractional shares so you could own a piece of Tesla stock instead of forking over $700+ for a whole share. They made everything accessible from your phone and did their best to remove as many middlemen as possible. And it’s all being done with young investors and future investors in mind, as Ladies Get Paid CEO and Public power user Ashley Louise explained to me...


ASHLEY: So much of this comes very naturally to people who largely view money as something that happens on their phone versus like I use a bank or I use cash.


As Stephen pointed out to me, these incremental changes serve a larger purpose: We’re not just talking about making investing more accessible from a financial perspective, but also making it more inclusive. This isn’t just about having the money to buy’s about seeing yourself as an investor, no matter where you are, who you are, or what you look like. Accessibility and inclusivity, stronger together.


Devoted Thinking Is Cool listeners will remember that I’m a huge fan of making voice memos to remember important trains of thought. I’m about to play you one such voice memo that I made a few weeks back when I first started thinking about this episode. Roll the clip:


KINSEY: So, uh, I am making this episode about retail investing with public. And it's had me thinking quite a lot about what encouraged me to become an investor after so many years of my life, not spent investing and think it all boils down to the fact that I really only saw myself as an observer for a very long time. I. In a job out of college that barred me from investing in anything other than shares of the company, for which I worked, which was pretty useless. Uh, but I was covering people who just didn't look like me. People who were investors, who had nothing in common with me, it was all old crusty white dudes in suits who had tons of assets under management. It was no one like me.


Until I stopped letting traditional expectations marr modern realities. It’s something I spoke about at length with Iskra Lawrence, a model and investor in Public.


ISKRA: it's been an intimidating. Space because it's been, you know, ran by one certain type of person. And a lot of people haven't seen themselves represented in the financial industry. Um, and they haven't even seen themselves maybe represented in the education side of that in the books that are about investing, um, or the people they see, you know, on the TV talking about investing, they just don't see themselves. So. For me, you know, I know my language that I use will be more basic. I know that I don't necessarily know all the words and all the terminology does that mean I shouldn't do it? Absolutely not. Does that mean that I can't be successful at investing? Absolutely not.


Today, the idea of the modern investor is changing—anyone with a couple bucks to spare can invest in stocks. You might not be very good at it at first, but you can get into the mix. It’s carving out knowledge, which we know is power. And that? Well that has the potential to change the world.


Think about what we’ve seen over the last year or so alone. As the pandemic ramped up, we downloaded apps like Public at an astonishing rate. Even before GameStop, AMC, and the rise of the meme stonks we’ll talk about was a gangbusters period for the investing world.


Consider this from the NYT: “Robinhood, the no-commission brokerage pioneer, recorded millions of downloads of its app even before GameStop and other meme stocks took off in January. Charles Schwab added 866,000 retail customers in 2020, up 81 percent from 2019. More than half were under 41, and the new customers are funding their accounts with more modest amounts of cash. And Fidelity said new accounts had increased 17 percent in 2020, with more than a third of the growth from people 35 and under.”


To me, this serves to illustrate an important point: Brokerages and apps like Public aren’t just saying they’re democratizing investing. They’re actually democratizing investing. More people are becoming investors.


And in opening Wall Street to any and all, these investing apps are tossing a rope ladder into a walled garden, allowing anyone who’s interested to open a stock account and use it...kind of however they want. The definitions of investing of yesteryear no longer apply—if rules and expectations didn’t change, they were completely scrapped.


Here’s an example. Unfortunately I didn’t have my mini mic with me when my sister and I had this conversation, so I’ll do my best to recreate it:


Setting the sister just used my Pubic code to sign up, create her own account, and get some free stock. She’s new at this, so I’m coaching her through the process. Curious about her goals, I ask her…”Madison, what are your goals with this account?”


She answers, matter of factly, as is her style: “I want to make a little money for our trip to Scotland this fall.”


Taken aback at my pragmatic sister’s sudden tolerance for risk, I ask her: “Do you think you can time the market? That sounds a little risky.”


She responds, cool as a cucumber: “I’m only investing money I’m willing to lose, and no savings account can pay me as much as selling this biotech stock at the right time. Seems worth it to me.”


Now I on the other hand view my investing strategy a little differently. I haven’t sold anything in months, and I employ a “see no evil” mindset. If I don’t look, I won’t stress. If I don’t stress, I won’t sell. If I don’t sell, I’ll probably make money by the time I retire. Mathematical? No. Methodical? No. Personal? Yes.


And that’s perhaps the most beautiful thing about this investing revolution. It can be whatever you want it to be. Here’s Ashley again.


ASHLEY:  the first thing that you should do is to think about like, what are you trying to accomplish? And what's your goal, right? Some people just want to. Be able to retire comfortably. Some people want to make a lot of money really quickly. Some people want to do it for fun. And what we always like to tell people now is take a step back, think about what you're trying to accomplish and then move forward from there.


But what if you’re a Mountain Dew-chugging, Reddit-obsessed investor with a small God complex? What if you want the investing experience to feel like a scene from The Hangover? What if you want to gamble some money based not on fundamentals, but hype? What then?


We should all be investors. And investing should be easy and fun and informative. But...we’re joking ourselves if we really say “stocks only go up” in earnest. There are good and bad ways to invest, right? So who’s driving the bad influence?


Let’s think about it.


*Roll transition music*


I’ll repeat it once more: We should all be investors. But I’m of the belief that we should all also be a little skeptical when the internet promises to universally hand us riches we’ve never before held. While this retail investing revolution has opened up investing to everyone—which is a good thing—it’s inevitably let in a little riff raff.


And by riff raff I mean meme stocks, the identifier plastered on shares of companies that go up and to the right not based on fundamentals, but based on internet hype. GameStop and AMC are the most obvious examples—a video game retailer and a movie theater chain had no business increasing their market value as much as they did over the pandemic. But that’s because everything’s made up and the rules don’t least sometimes.


Reddit told investors to buy, so investors bought. It doesn’t make much sense, and that’s almost the point? Here’s how Saturday Night Live covered the GameStonk fiasco earlier this year:


SNL: Now would you say the stock market still works? Uh, first of all, it's pronounced the stock market, kinda. Yeah, it works. See, I told you all my money. I put all my money and gain stop and I can't lose. Uh huh. So normally a stock price reflects a company's value. Okay. And two weeks ago, GameStop was valued at $17 a share, and then it went to $413 a share.


Would you say that reflects the kind of business GameStop stores have been doing in the past two weeks?


We sell games. Right. But are you good at it? Uh, not really. People download all their games now, so we're kind of like, I dunno, what do you call it? Uh, a dying business. Yeah, that's it. Right. So you're probably should have gone down, but instead it. Up the most. So now it seems like the entire system is a joke.


Exactly. Interested. Hey, want to buy my stocks? Good. Thank you. But out of curiosity, who else invested in, in game stuff? Oh, John rule. Best of luck to you. Uh, so the stock market no longer works.


Meme stock frenzies like that one make for good stories and skits, but they’re also...real. This isn’t folklore. This isn’t a cautionary tale from your financial advisor. This is real people sometimes making—but more often losing—money. I interviewed the guy who runs Wall Street Bets, the Reddit forum where all this madness started...and let me just say, I think we often lose sight of the fact that these are real people “playing” with real money.


And real consequences. Last year, Alex Kearns, a 20-year-old college student in Nebraska, died by suicide after he logged into his Robinhood app and thought he had lost $730,000. It’s not a game...but we’re at times treating investing as if it were.


I’ll go ahead and call it what it is: gambling. And while Public found that 81% of new investors who bought meme stocks on all manner of apps went on to diversify their portfolios...there is no denying that the very concept of the meme stock undermines the fundamental purpose of the stock market, at least in its purest form.


Here’s what DealBook wrote of the meme stock revolt earlier this year: “When stock prices are divorced from fundamentals, it cements the public perception that markets can be manipulated — by a small group of insiders or a large group of determined traders — and therefore can’t be trusted. That could have long-term implications beyond what happens with AMC, GameStop or any other stock in the headlines.”


And I know what some of you are thinking—didn’t she say revolution earlier? I did, and I can readily see how something like Wall Street Bets, which is effectively the petri dish for today’s meme stocks, is an almost counterculture eff you to the man. They took hedge funds to task and cost them gobs of money. The suits have their stock buybacks; the regular folks have their memes.


I just want to illustrate that it’s a dangerous game we’re playing. When we remove the idea of natural upside and replace it with manufactured upside...we’re upending the system in a troubling way.


And with that, I will step down off of my soapbox.


Because this is a nuanced conversation, as I promised you at the start. Treating investing like gambling is probably not good. But smart people think that might not even be happening...Ashley? 


ASHLEY: Why is the methods or witch that you buy or sell a stock, make it gambling or not gambling, right? Like the, it gets, if you had to do it through a financial advisor, they'd tell you if you're doing something dumb or not, but. The access of information that people have now is so broad compared to when you basically needed a Bloomberg terminal or whatever was pre Bloomberg terminal.


And yes, there is more risk associated with it and yes, people can, there should be guard rails in telling people what they're doing, but you're still buying and selling securities. You know, it's not right. Buying and selling risky stocks or a broker is the same as buying and selling a risky stock yourself.


Right. So there is not trying to build personal accountability, but at the end of the day, it's people deciding what to do with their own money. 


It’s always been risky! I’m not sure if that makes you feel better or worse, is what it is.


And today, what is is this: Our stock market reality is one in flux. According to financial services firm Piper Sandler, retail trading now accounts for roughly 22% of all trading volume, up from 13% a year ago. Credit Suisse estimates that at times this year, retail traders have accounted for a third of all US stock market trading.


So what happens to the stock market when the kids table gets to blow it to smithereens? 

  1. New investors join the fray, whether driven by FOMO or something more earnest. Public found that 59% of new investors, on their platform and on others, are first-generation investors.
  2. Investing hits the mainstream. It becomes part of your personality in a cool way. 41% of those new investors Public surveyed say their portfolio is a bigger indicator of their personality than their Google search history. And many of them told Public that being a strong investor gives someone as much clout as having 10K followers on Instagram.


Things change. Power balances shift. And, I think, entropy and healthy disorder are introduced into the investing system. It’s worth noting that entropy and healthy disorder aren’t always bad...sometimes chaos can be a harbinger of good change. 


Being in this space and talking to people who are tremendously successful investors...I can tell you this: I feel a shift. Something in the air is different, and in a lot of ways it feels good. It feels good to wrestle back control from the institutions that never cared much for serving young people or people of color. It feels good to take ownership in the upside of a company you believe in. It feels good to make money in the stock market, regardless of your personal goals.


Remember what I told you earlier: According to Public’s research, 81% of new investors who purchased a meme stock went on to diversify their portfolio—to me, that debunks the myth that all new investors are just speculative. They’re evolving and learning, and that’s great.


They’re bridging a very big and very important schism—they’re moving from volatile stock picking to smart long-term investing, no doubt spurred on by conversations about things like index funds and ETFs happening on the Public app. That’s how you build wealth... 


76% of new investors Public surveyed said they invest to accomplish bigger dreams like securing their family’s financial future, owning a home, etc. It’s not just about posting gains porn on Reddit. I mean that’s some of it but that’s not all of it!


That said, there’s an important difference between empowering a generation and its long underserved communities to take part in wealth creation and ownership and investing...and getting them hooked on a drug more potent than anything in a bottle—making money.


This goes beyond losing the cash your Grandma sent in her last card. The get rich quick schemes can be devastating, and they can go unchecked. Studies show that Silicon Valley’s favorite investing apps typically host users who engage in much riskier trades than investors on more traditional platforms. Some people are losing millions because they don’t know what they’re doing when they hit trade. And that’s not an exaggeration.


For that reason, platforms like Public have a certain responsibility to investors. Let’s talk about it.


*Roll transition music*


I like to talk about responsibility here on this show. It’s a common theme within the Thinking Is Cool universe for a reason...we are demanding better leadership from those in charge, and we can point out what’s wrong all we want, but it’s a lot better to figure out how we fix it. And of course, whose job it is to fix systems that work so well...they almost work too well. 


In some ways, newcomer investing apps can feel like that. I’d be lying if I told you I’ve never thought of the money in my Public account as pretend money. It’s harder to comprehend the real value of what you’re doing when it’s on your phone and it’s so easy to move around.


$100 of a random metaverse ETF that gives me exposure to a bunch of stocks that are betting on the future of the online world? Why not, I’m not driving.


It’s a little bit of a YOLO attitude, which admittedly isn’t a good one to approach investing with, at least not all the time. It’s on all of us as investors to do our homework and ensure that we’re only investing money we can afford to potentially lose. But as you might have noticed by now...we don’t always do what we should do.


So where, then, does the platform step in to be the voice of reason? Stephen…?


STEPHEN:  I think it's our responsibility to make the markets more accessible and inclusive. Right. And then I think we have a corollary responsibility with that to actually help people be better investors. Right. And I think like we have to like, and what we mean by that is. I actually had them help have better help them have better financial outcomes, right. Actually make a return in the market and learn how to do that well and give themselves sort of the best, um, you know, uh, risk adjusted return that they can. And, you know, I think the truth is in the last sort of five, six years of working in this space, where we found pretty directly is that most people that get started as. Anything, most of them don't start doing it perfectly or optimally. Right? They, they, they start, they tinker, they learn and they learn by doing and they learn from a community and they learn from their friends, uh, and they learn and they learn and they learn. And over time they approach sort of better, better models. And they ultimately figured out, Hey, where are the, um, where are the ways for me to be able to do this better? And I think as a platform that it comes back to helping people along that journey.


As far as Public is concerned, the best approach to helping people not squander their life savings is a three-pronged one: content, community, and tools. Content that’s educational and approachable. Community that meets modern needs and serves piping hot discourse and discoverability. And tools that, when used right, get you where you want to be.


That is...if you choose to use them. It’s a theme I kept running into in my conversation with Stephen—removing speed bumps is good until you fly through an intersection without looking both ways. Sometimes, speed bumps exist for a reason.


KINSEY: Do you ever worry that perhaps we've made it too easy? 


STEPHEN: Not even a little bit full stop like that, the public equities market in the U S right. You United the us stocks are the single best wealth creator.


Uh, mechanism, you know, known to man, it's literally the way that we can, uh, most further people's financial goals is by getting them involved. And I think in order to help make people, investors, they have to start somewhere. Right. I think if we go this route where it's, um, if we only ever tried to bring people into the truly like platonic ideal of what an investment portfolio would look like, you know, you might end up with something that looks like a bunch of Vanguard, ETFs, or a betterment portfolio.


The honest answer is like that, that doesn't activate people. They don't get started the way the vast majority of people get started investing and they start early in their careers. You know, when they have a little, they have fewer dollars, they start by buying a company that they believe in a company that resonates with them, an opportunity that they see, you know, again, buying a single company, never the optimal decision.


If you're looking at a risk. Might work out. Great hope it does. But again, you're, you tend to be in the research shows that people tend to be better off with a more diversified portfolio that they plan to invest in over the long run. But we can't. We can't let better be best, be the enemy of better or, or, you know, perfect.


Be the enemy of good. And we've got to focus on getting people into a place where, Hey, they're comfortable. They can get started. They can begin to learn by doing and ultimately, you know, increase their diversification over time by interacting with the community and by learning more about the, the markets and then ultimately get to that better place.


And we've got to, again, help provide that. Community and tools to get them there.


Public’s efforts to use tools, content, and community responsibly count for more than something. They count for quite a lot. From where I stand, it’s efforts like these that will serve to set some investing platforms apart. 


Because at the end of the day, as Public found in the data I was referencing earlier, 27% of new investors say they use Reddit as a news source, under 20% said the same of CNBC. Most of the investors surveyed? They said their primary source for information is their investing app.


Being both brokerage and teacher means a double dose of platform responsibility for the Publics of the world. And this kind of platform responsibility? It’s about more than just begrudgingly showing up to Capitol Hill every few years like big tech CEOs do...because investing apps aren’t peddling in just likes and comments...they’re peddling in money—your money. 


*Roll transition music*


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in exploring the intersection of playing Russian roulette with your money and actually investing’s this: The term “investor” has a different meaning today than it did just a decade ago. I mean, it has a different meaning than it did a year ago for some of us. And it might have yet another definition a decade from now. But today, whether you’re a Reddit-obsessed day trader or a set and forget it index fund fan...investing can be for you.


No two investors are the same—we approach the idea of investing with different goals, and that means different strategies deployed to meet those goals. That’s part and parcel of the advent of apps like Public—apps that have personalization and, thankfully, responsibility, in their DNA. In today’s world...investing is cool.


That doesn’t mean we get to sit back and press invest til our thumbs fall off. We still have to commit to personal responsibility, and also to holding our platforms accountable. We have to be vigilant for groupthink that could easily lead us in the wrong direction. We have to keep our misinformation radars on high alert. It’s a big task, and it will take regular supervision of ourselves and our tech. For the both, there is so much room to grow, in responsibilities and education and commitment to democratizing investing in a fair and thoughtful way.


I don’t want to focus only on what remains to be done. Take a moment to consider what’s already happened. Anyone with a couple bucks and an internet connection can be an investor. That’s paradigm-shifting stuff.


I mean, how beautiful is it that something as stodgy as the stock market can evolve and show such an aptitude for continuing to evolve not only generation to generation but season to season? This isn’t an old white dude’s game’s everyone’s. 


So think about what that democratization means...

  • How might a seismic power shift from old white rich people to, well, everyone else impact the tenets of our global financial system?
  • What makes investing both accessible and inclusive at once? Do you see yourself as an investor, and if not...what might make you?
  • What does your investment portfolio say about you? And if you don’t have one...what are you waiting for?


Take these ideas to the group chat. Take it anywhere. I’ll be taking it to the Public app—download it, follow me, and get to investing. 


Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Thinking Is Cool. Quick reminder: This podcast was produced in partnership with Open To The Public is a member of FINRA and SIPC.


And I, Kinsey Grant, am a member of the take it anywhere school of thought. Thanks again for tuning in, and remember—thinking is cool and so are you. I’ll see you next time.

ISKRA: it's been an intimidating. Space because it's been, you know, ran by one certain type of person. And a lot of people haven't seen themselves represented in the financial industry. Um, and they haven't even seen themselves maybe represented in the education side of that in the books that are about investing, um, or the people they see, you know, on the TV talking about investing, they just don't see themselves. So. For me, you know, I know my language that I use will be more basic. I know that I don't necessarily know all the words and all the terminology does that mean I shouldn't do it? Absolutely not. Does that mean that I can't be successful at investing? Absolutely not.