Young investors ‘changed the entire character of the market’

CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday suggested that seasoned investors could take a cue and learn something from the stock market’s newcomers this year.

“I think it’s time to stop disrespecting the younger investors who’ve nailed 2020 every step of the way and start taking them seriously,” the “Mad Money” host said. “Even after this incredible run, it’s not too late to join them.”

The era of commission-free trading, coinciding with the coronavirus lockdown that left millions of homebound Americans with fewer activities to partake in, has introduced a new generation of investors to the market.

Some key characteristics among younger investors, according to Cramer, include: preference for stock picking over index funds; independent investment choices; willingness to take on risk in a bear market; belief in environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, investing.

“They only care about who’s doing what’s right and who’s doing what’s wrong. If they buy a stock that turns out wrong, they can always trade out of it for free because there are no commissions,” Cramer said.

Coming off a major market meltdown earlier this year that wiped out years-worth of gains in the major averages, retail investors flocked to online brokers like Charles Schwab, E-Trade and Robinhood to try their luck on stocks.

One equity strategist at Citi earlier this year called it a “generational-buying moment” for new investors, even for those with little in the way of market know-how, with the tap of a phone.

“We’ve got a massive group of individual investors who’ve become in many ways a more powerful collective force than the professionals, and they simply don’t care about the same things as the experts,” Cramer said, adding that “they are the ones who are the marginal buyers and sellers of stocks,” Cramer said.

“The return of individual investors has changed the entire character of the market.”

The comments come after a mixed day of trading on Wall Street Monday where the Dow Jones and S&P 500 pulled back from their highs. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite rose to new high levels. The Covid-19 health crisis continued to reach new extremes and calls for more emergency spending from the federal government remained high.

Resembling a scene that has played out since summer, lawmakers in Washington continued to debate over what to include in another spending measure. As the government struggles to find a way to respond to the ongoing economic and health crises, the stock market hasn’t blinked since nonessential businesses were shut down earlier this year to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

Robinhood co-CEO Vlad Tenev told CNBC last month that investors on the app “acted as a market-stabilizing force” in March when the market crashed and was washed in volatility.

Robinhood is considered the most popular trading app among millennials.

“This pandemic has become the ultimate changing of the guard, but you might have missed it if you’re not as plugged in to what’s happening with the younger generation,” Cramer said.

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