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Gen Z may be young, but they're already getting ahead on their finances especially when it comes to investing.

A new report shows that over half of Gen Z Americans hold investments of some kind, and the vast majority of these investors started putting their money to work before they even turned 21.

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What the data says

The new report from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and finance non-profit CFA Institute pulls back the curtain on the youngest generation of adults' investing habits. It reveals that 56% of American Gen Zers (who are roughly ages 18 to 25 now) hold at least some form of investment, and that 82% of these investors started before age 21.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • The average Gen Z investor has about $4,000 sunk into investments.
  • 25% of Gen Z investors began doing so before turning 18 years old, and 82% began investing before the age of 21.
  • 41% of Gen Z investors say they began because of "fear of missing out," or FOMO.
  • About half of American Gen Z investors said they rely on social media to learn about investing. The most popular ways these young people learn about investing include YouTube, web searches (a la Google) and Instagram.

What it means

The survey shows a fundamental shift in the way young people approach investing. "The Gen Z population is diverse and digitally savvy," Gerri Walsh, president of FINRA, said in the press release. "They are using mobile technology to enter the financial markets in unprecedented numbers and consulting a wide range of information sources as they do so."

Indeed, this report shows that this is the first time that a generation looked primarily to social media for guidance in their investing choices. Millennials, who comprised the first generation to grow up with social media, and Gen X investors tend to rely on professional advice and corporate resources to make their own decisions, per the report.

What's more, the advent of "fee-free" trading platforms like Robinhood mean Gen Z investors can do all of their trading from the comfort of their homes, without ever needing to meet with a financial advisor.

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