JP Morgan's free trading app and My advice for Millenial Investors
Competition for Millenial investors and traders is heating up, driving trading costs down. I talked about this last year when I reviewed Interactive Brokers and compared their fees to other brokers. Obviously I expect this trend to continue, which is fantastic for those of us who trade more frequently and in more 'exotic' products like options or futures. However, I don't like trading on a bare-bones smartphone app and need the full desktop trading platform, and I hope that the price war doesn't just stay on apps and stock trades, but that it continues to spread into other products at all brokerages and their respective platforms. There is a down side though to all this cost reduction...
I have a problem with the so-called Robo-Adviser. When people sink their money into these services, they don't really know what's going on behind the scenes and they don't learn anything about markets whatsoever. You get your choice between arbitrary categories such as 'moderate risk' or 'growth' and so on. Few people actually take a look at the portfolio of those categories or their risk allocation. It is never a good idea to sink your hard-earned money into something you do not understand, and that's what so many young people are doing these days.
I think trying your hand in the market teaches many valuable lessons about business, economics, finance, etc, as well as non-business related fields like psychology. I'm not saying everyone should go out and trade options - but I do think everyone should try to invest for themselves. For a long time, professional money managers, finance professors, and others have preached that "beating the market is impossible," and that everyone should just sink their money into low cost index funds and never think about the market again. That sounds like a strawman, but it really isn't far off from what these groups have been saying for decades.
There are benefits to passive investing but I think that mentality will set up a lot of new investors for failure, and lead them to believe that whatever the market returns in a year is the be-all, end-all, best return that anyone can accomplish, which is obviously untrue!
Learn about the market. Learn what it is, why stocks trade higher or lower, how to read a balance sheet, etc etc. Invest some money or trade some money. The lessons you'll learn will take you far in life, trust me. The fact that costs are coming down across the board is even more of a reason to take a more active approach and have some fun along the way.