HomeNewsThe Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published research findings into better understanding investors who engage in high-risk investments like cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published research findings into better understanding investors who engage in high-risk investments like cryptocurrencies and foreign exchange

The findings reveal there is a new, younger, more diverse group of consumers getting involved in higher risk investments, potentially prompted in part by the accessibility offered by new investment apps. However, there is evidence that these higher risk products may not always be suitable for these consumers’ needs as nearly two thirds (59%) claim that a significant investment loss would have a fundamental impact on their current or future lifestyle.

The research found that for many investors, emotions and feelings such as enjoying the thrill of investing, and social factors like the status that comes from a sense of ownership in the companies they invest in, were key reasons behind their decisions to invest. This is particularly true for those investing in high-risk products for whom the challenge, competition and novelty are more important than conventional, more functional reasons for investing like wanting to make their money work harder or save for their retirement. 38% of those surveyed did not list a single functional reason for investing in their top 3.

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumer and Competition at the FCA said: ‘Much of the consumer investments market meets consumers’ needs. But we are worried that some investors are being tempted – often through online adverts or high-pressure sales tactics – into buying higher-risk products that are very unlikely to be suitable for them.

‘This research has helped us better understand what drives and motivates consumers so we can tell them about the risks involved in these investments through our investment harm campaign.

‘We want to make sure that we encourage the ability to save and invest for lifetime events, particularly for younger generations, but it is imperative that consumers do so with savings and investment products that have a suitable level of risk for their needs. Investors need to be mindful of their overall risk appetite, diversifying their investments and only investing money they can afford to lose in high-risk products.

‘We also hope our research will provide valuable insights for other organizations that are involved in tackling harm in this market.’

The research shows that investors often have high confidence and claimed knowledge. However, it also shows a lack of awareness and/or belief in the risks of investing, with over 4 in 10 not viewing ‘losing some money’ as one of the risks of investing, even though as with most investments their whole capital is at risk. In some cases, investors can lose more than they initially invested for example with contract for difference investments. These investors also have a strong reliance on gut instinct and rules of thumb, with almost four in five (78%) agreeing “I trust my instincts to tell me when it’s time to buy and to sell” and 78% also agreeing “There are certain investment types, sectors or companies I consider a ‘safe bet’”.

The FCA advises consumers to consider five important questions before they invest:

  1. Am I comfortable with the level of risk?
  2. Do I fully understand the investment being offered to me?
  3. Am I protected if things go wrong?
  4. Are my investments regulated?
  5. Should I get financial advice?

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