It's been almost exactly a year since stock market fever broke out for shares in the American video games retail chain Gamestop.

The episode surrounding the title's roller coaster ride not only threw a spotlight on the Texas retailer, but also on those who made cheap trading possible in the first place - the neobrokers.

In the United States, the American pioneer among the smartphone brokers, Robinhood, came into focus and criticism, in Germany the main focus was on the Berlin fintech Trade Republic.

Under the keyword gamification, the accusation was that the easy handling of the app and the almost free trading tempted young people in particular to make risky investment decisions.

Antonia Mannweiler

Editor in Business.

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In order to answer the question of whether this is really the case, the Berlin-based company has opened up its huge treasure trove of data for a DIW Econ study.

In the summer of 2021, the research institute carried out what is probably the largest survey of investors on their investment behavior to date on behalf of Neobroker.

DIW Econ asked 216,000 of the approximately 950,000 users of the smartphone broker about their motives for investing, among other things.

In addition, the institute also received access to all customer data, which was made available anonymously.

young users

The evaluation confirmed the assumption that the majority of the app that has been on the market since 2019 are young users.

Almost 70 percent of all Trade Republic customers are younger than 35 years.

Around half of them are between 18 and 26 years old.

A hypothesis has also been confirmed in another respect, because a good half of all respondents were newcomers to the stock market (47 percent).

The results are also consistent with a “Per Share” survey published in August 2021 by Comdirect, Consorsbank, Flatex Degiro and ING Germany.

With 2000 participants, far fewer investors were surveyed in the study, but here too 15 percent of investors under 35 stated that they had invested their money in shares for the first time in 2020.

The first-time investors among those surveyed invested an average of 37 percent of their total assets in the capital market.

risk appetite?

The DIW Econ also asked the customers of the Berlin fintech about their motivation for using the app.

More than three quarters of those questioned answered that there was no alternative to the capital market for saving.

And more than 70 percent of the participants want to invest in the long term in order to make a contribution to old-age provision.

The statement "I invest mainly because I enjoy the thrill" was rejected by 56 percent, while a fifth agreed.

In last year's per-share survey, too, the majority of respondents cited low interest rates and favorable entry prices as the main reasons why they invested in stocks.

Contrary to one or the other expectation after the Gamestop hype last year, one does not see an excessive risk appetite among the young Trade Republic users.

Only 10.7 percent of the inexperienced investors expressed a high willingness to take risks, compared to almost a fifth (19.2 percent) of the experienced investors.

Many people only saw Gamestop as the tip of the iceberg, said Trade Republic boss Christian Hecker when the study was presented on Wednesday evening.

That "shook us at the time" because the data was known.

One of the data known at the time was that most investors who take their first steps in the stock market act less risky than those who were already experienced.

According to the study, the newcomers to the stock exchange invest more in the more broadly diversified exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and less in individual stocks than the veterans.

Overall, Trade Republic users invest nearly 60 percent of their portfolios in stocks, 26 percent in ETFs, and just 2 percent in riskier derivatives.

In terms of gender distribution, the lion's share of Trade Republic users is male at 84 percent.

This is justified by the fact that women are generally less active on the stock market.

According to Deutsches Aktieninstitut, the proportion of women among investors across Germany is almost twice as high as at Trade Republic, at 36 percent.

Among the investors who use the app for their first stock market experience, the proportion of women is at least 20 percent, almost twice as high as among the experienced investors.

And how did investors fare with their investment decisions?

Measurements were taken between 2019 and summer 2021. The median annual return during this period was 7.1 percent.

Anyone who had invested for at least a year could expect a higher return (11.1 percent).

However, it is questionable how meaningful these figures are over a very short period of time, which is also very volatile for the stock market.

Compared to the major indices, which have generated double-digit returns in recent years, an average of 7 percent seems almost pathetic.

Nevertheless, most users of the Neobroker do not invest their money in broad indices, but primarily in individual values, which also carry a higher risk.