It would probably be safe to say that there wasn’t a single industry that didn’t feel the presence of the global pandemic in 2020. Whether those were new challenges or some ongoing ones accelerated by last year’s events, no field was left indifferent – including investing.
As one of the official TechChill 2021 side events, TWINO was thrilled to organize this year’s first FinTech Talks discussing “A new era of investing”. I had the honor to moderate this online discussion that was joined by excellent fintech experts and field innovators:
- Kristjan Kangro, Founder & CEO at Change Invest
- Kaidi Ruusalepp, Founder & CEO at Funderbeam
- Thomas Kralow, Trader at ThomasKralow
- Liene Dubava, Member of the Management Board, Head of Baltic Issuer Services at Nasdaq Riga
- and Pauls Miklaševičs, Chief Asset Management Officer at BlueOrange Bank
The experts discussed 2020’s impact on investments, retail investment tendencies, the latest financial trends, and what the world of investing could expect in the future. We heard many exciting thoughts and caught opinions worth sharing with a broader audience. Keep reading to explore the main takeaways from TWINO’s recent FinTech Talks on the future of investing.
2020 in the investment universe
In 2020, we witnessed a global economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The markets fluctuated a lot, and the 2020 crisis especially highlighted that the markets lack liquidity. As emphasized by Pauls Miklaševičs, the markets were saved mainly by the commendable actions of the central banks as they answered the crisis swiftly and rescued the markets from a total crash.
The actions of central banks and governments, in a way, had created a more optimistic outlook on the recent crisis from today’s perspective. The fall for some actors wasn’t that painful, mainly because of the financial support governments contributed to the markets. And this situation served as a strong reminder of the enormous power that central banks still have over the markets. Even though crypto has entered the spotlight with its philosophy, the real power holders still are the central banks, as seen in 2020. Cryptocurrencies are the current trend, and, understandably, people follow trends, but it’s still unclear how they will play out in the future. However, Kristjan Kangro opposed that people have begun to lose faith in currencies such as euros and US dollars, and cryptocurrencies have entered the spotlight to answer that.
Another marking tendency of 2020 related to investments, as emphasized by Kaidi Ruusalepp, was a crucial decrease in household expenditures. Last year households spent 50% less than in 2019, and current household savings is capital available for investments. However, most of the money saved by households hasn’t left their bank accounts, which means that it’s a massive amount of finances potentially available to fintechs as well.
Additionally, 2020 saw that the investment world can move to the digital realm and still function effortlessly. And as emphasized by Kaidi, last year received a massive supply of VC capital among startups that aligned with an ongoing tendency:
The amount of startup investments has risen significantly within the last few years. If some time ago 10M euro investment in a startup world was worth wide attention, currently the stakes have risen more than ten times.”
The growth of retail investments
2020 was a different kind of year in many ways. Despite the feeling that many encountered financial instability, the retail investing sector may disagree. Currently, many brokerages are reporting an all-time high for new registrations – the interest is clearly there. But is the tendency of retail investments’ agile growth here to stay? The FinTech Talks’ participants agreed that the growth rate of retail investments would slow down as society returns to normal life rhythms. Besides that, the discussion highlighted a few, additional points regarding retail investment – here they are:
- A new generation of retail investors is coming
More and more millennials and individuals from younger generations begin to enter the retail investment industry, and they arrive with a slightly different mindset towards the fundamentals of investing. As emphasized by Liene Dubava and Kaidi Ruusalepp, new investors who enter the market look at the sustainability side of their actions and are eager to learn before making investment choices. It’s no longer simply a question about profit – social and ecological responsibility are the new values that young investors bring to the table.
A new generation of online sophisticated retail investors is coming, but it takes some time to see the change. But one is clear – new investors are bringing a shift in investment values,” Kaidi Ruusalepp.
- Investor education has become more accessible than before, but not everyone chooses to take advantage of it
The interest in the education of investments has skyrocketed within the last year. And while it’s great that many new retail investors eagerly seek education before entering the field, a significant part chooses to blindly follow trends or not-so-reliable advice grasped from Youtube channels. Thomas Kralow stressed that many of the private investing newcomers that joined the field in 2020 would probably leave it empty-handed due to the lack of legit knowledge and no willingness to obtain some.
For many, investing is a trend, and all trends end someday. Therefore, the massive growth in retail investments we saw recently won’t last as people reenter their “normal” lives as the pandemic quiets down. But those who choose to stay should also note that no matter how well-educated they are, investing involves risks without a doubt.
As said by Pauls Miklaševičs:
You have to be very careful –the market’s job is to take your money, not to make you money. Investing takes not only humility but also a good sense of humor and an understanding that the market evolves in cycles.”
- 3 AM tweets shouldn’t run the markets – conscious choices should
Or, in other words – those serious about investing shouldn’t blindly follow one man’s opinion (no matter how many likes it receives) but rather look up to what financial institutions and governments are doing and make conscious investments. If we look back a few decades, it wouldn’t be possible that a single CEO made such a global impact in the blink of an eye. Times have changed, and while there are people ready to lose their capital just for fun, conscious investment choices are the ones building our future.
Moreover, investing has become more accessible globally. What used to be a playground of major finance players now is joined by many smaller fintechs that access a broad scope of potential private investors. However, such inclusion also comes with responsibility for our investment choices – are we building the future we want to live in, or are we sabotaging it? There are many opportunities to invest in actual companies that add value to this world, and being fully aware of the values that your investment honors is a way to go.
The environmental impact of cryptocurrencies – are they all bad for our planet?
Besides sharing opinions and insights on investment scenery in 2020 and what the future of retail investing could look like, the participants of the TWINO FinTech Talks explored another burning topic – the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. While crypto in a way promises us financial freedom and many see investing in cryptocurrencies as a way to reap amazing profits, there is a much darker side to it – the environmental impact of crypto mining.
There have been endless discussions (and for understandable reasons) over time about the environmental impact of Bitcoin, the current number one cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization. Its opponents argue that Bitcoin mining is a massive waste of energy yearly – more than the electricity consumption of entire countries. Crypto-enthusiast Kristjan Kangro shared his outlook by saying that the energy used to mine Bitcoin is the cost of financial freedom we need to pay.
Kristjan also added that even though most of the cryptocurrencies use the energy-consuming proof-of-work consensus algorithms to verify transactions and cast new coins, there are cryptos that are moving to use the proof-of-stake system that uses significantly less energy to verify transactions. Plus, Northern European countries such as Iceland have shown that crypto could be mined in a more sustainable way – by using renewable energy such as geothermal and hydroelectric power.
And yet it doesn’t change the fact that mining cryptocurrencies still consumes massive amounts of energy that could be used to sustain society’s needs:
History teaches you that freedom comes with responsibility. And investing is directly related to society and building the future you wish to live in. Any investment choice you make comes with responsibility. If you’re not choosing to invest in companies that will turn our economy into a green one, then you’re on the wrong side of the history,” Pauls Miklaševičs.
The global debates about cryptocurrencies and their environmental impact are ongoing and will continue to be for a long time. There is no unified opinion on whether the financial freedom promised to society by cryptocurrencies is worth the energy sacrifice. However, the bigger picture here reminds us to remain conscious about our investments and make sure that they align with our beliefs and our investments are mindful enough.
Last but not least – things to know before investing
Whether you’re already into the investing world or still weighing the pros and cons of your potential involvement, the TWINO FinTech Talks participants were eager to share their best advice with new investors. Copy-paste or learn by heart – these professionals know what they’re talking about.
#1 Take your time to explore the scenery
First and foremost, don’t jump into investing if you have zero knowledge about it. The YOLO approach sometimes pays off, but with investing, it can be too pricey. Gain experience step-by-step – there are certain things you need to know and understand before you go into investing regardless of the investment area you choose.
#2 Know yourself and your opportunities
There are many investment opportunities you can choose from but often newcomers lack awareness of them. So make sure you choose the investment option that suits you as a person but to do so – know yourself well. It’s crucial to learn if you can handle the psychological side of investing as it’s never too easy. Moreover, educate yourself by joining communities that gather investing enthusiasts and professionals you can learn from. There is a broad variety of online groups, podcasts, clubs, investment apps that can help you navigate the waters of investing.
#3 Diversify and invest in what you believe in
Don’t put all eggs into one basket – diversify your investments and it may heighten your chances of becoming a good investor rather than just being a lucky one. It’s a great time to become an investor as the opportunities are so vast. Choose areas you believe in, focus on things that genuinely interest you, and learn what is attractive about the asset that you’re investing in. Profits or losses don’t really define you as a trader. Your approach, your sustainability is what can predict your future success.