The bear market has brought “Fear and Uncertainty” to Gen-Z. How they deal with it.
Ella Gupta made her first investment when she was 10. With the help of her parents, she took half the profits from her bracelet business and invested in the stock market. At 14, she opened a Roth IRA, after starting her first job cleaning dental instruments. Now, at 17, Gupta is confronting his first bear market.
When the foam comes out of the stock market, there is also an opportunity to buy shares in quality companies on sale. “For younger investors, a market correction or even a bear market can be beneficial to your long-term nest egg, if you have the discipline to hang in there and the courage to buy more when the markets are in retreat,” says Greg McBride, financial analyst at Bankrate.
US stocks have not experienced a prolonged bear market since the financial crisis of 2008-̵[ads1]7;09. While the generation of investors that has come of age since then may lack the experience of their elders, today’s bear market introductions have advantages that previous generations could not imagine. Perhaps the most important among them is unfettered access to information via the Internet, and the ability to find and disseminate it almost instantly. Not only has the proliferation of online brokerages and investment websites democratized investing; it has enabled new and mostly young investors to build communities and share knowledge in new ways.
More than half of Generation Z adults—those between the ages of 18 and 25—are already investors, with 26% invested in individual stocks, according to a 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy survey. This will make them more financially active than any previous generation on their age, according to Investopedia. Gen Zers are also the first generation born into a world where social media use is the norm, which means their investment thinking is heavily influenced by their peers.
“Peer-to-peer learning is very powerful,” says Gupta, who has also written a book for his peers on personal finance and investing.
Gen-Z survey respondents say they learned about investing online, while just under half said they learned on YouTube or through other videos. About a third credited TikTok for their newfound knowledge. For large parts of the last two years, it has paid off to follow investment tips from social media strategists. An analysis from 2006 to 2020 of more than 30,000 stocks worldwide found that stocks with the most positive media sentiment outperformed those with the most negative sentiment, according to market sentiment aggregator MarketPsych.
However, a bear market can point to the dangers of groupthink, whether on Wall Street or in the digital world. It’s something Gen Zers are also learning as meme stocks crater, crypto crashes and other assets boosted by online investment influencers come crashing back to earth. Many stocks that were favored last year on online forums like Reddit have fallen by double digits since.
“In a bull market, everyone looks like a genius because they say, ‘I’m making a lot of money from everything,'” says Vivian Tu, a content creator with financial literacy on TikTok. “And now, by definition, we’ve hit a bear market. People who didn’t weigh the downsides against the pros are going to feel them now, and it’s a scary time if you were overweight in risky asset classes.”
Even conservative investors have suffered losses this year, with
down about 17%. Research suggests that newer investors have been much quicker to sell than their more experienced elders – the exact opposite, in many cases, of what they should be doing. A Bankrate survey found that 73% of Gen Z investors traded actively this year, compared to just 28% of Gen X investors, ages 42 to 57, and 25% of baby boomers.
Some experts worry that social media may be to blame for promoting bad investment behavior. “Many things on social media are excellent advice; it’s just not nuanced, says Anne Lester, former pension manager at
“It has to be short and digestible, so some of the nuance is lost.”
But concerns about Gen-Z’s risky trading behavior may also be overblown. There are reasons to believe this generation will be more financially conservative than their predecessors, having witnessed parents lose their jobs during the financial crisis and the dislocations caused by the Covid pandemic, according to Wells Fargo Advisors.
Gupta says she’s not too panicked about the prospect of a bear market because her investment strategy revolves around dollar cost averaging, or investing a fixed dollar amount on a regular basis. She also researches all companies whose shares she buys, studying accounting, business relationships and valuations.
“When I buy a stock, I do so with the intention of holding it for the long term,” she says.
Many novice investors seem to have sharpened their pencils in recent months, says Zoë Barry, CEO of social trading platform Zingeroo. Of all the clients who traded on Zingeroo’s platform, Gen-Z investors’ activity most closely mirrored the recommendations of professional research firms, she says, noting that few are still buying into the meme-stock hype.
Tu, the TikTok content creator, agrees. She counts 1.5 million followers on @yourrichbff, her TikTok account, and says that with recession fears rising, her followers are restless, bombarding her with questions about how the current macroeconomic environment will affect them.
“People are talking about this like we’re about to move into our bunkers for three years,” she says.
That is not the case, she assures.
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