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When it comes to investing, young women today already have a leg up compared to older generations.

New data from Fidelity Investments shows that women between the ages of 18 and 35 are opening investing accounts much earlier in life than their older counterparts did.

On average, young women began investing in a brokerage account at the age of 21, according to Fidelity. Women currently ages 36 and older, by contrast, opened brokerage accounts at the age of 30, on average. That’s a difference of nine years.

“We continue to see more women than ever investing outside of retirement accounts,” Lorna Kapusta, Fidelity’s Head of Women Investors & Customer Engagement, said in a statement. “In fact, our research shows more than two-thirds are doing so.”

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The surge in investing accounts among young women is accompanied by rising interest in investing activity among young people in general, thanks in part to a red-hot stock market that persisted throughout the pandemic (though the market has cooled off considerably in recent weeks). Apps that make stock trading quick and accessible have also helped more young people jump into the action.

The same trend also held true for dedicated retirement accounts, according to Fidelity’s data. On average, young women opened 401(k)s or other retirement accounts at age 20, while older women opened retirement accounts at age 27.

Of course, this new focus on retirement isn't exclusive to women: Gen Z investors as a group have been opening retirement accounts (and increasing their contributions to those accounts) at an increased pace recently.

Because of the principle of compound interest, those extra years of investing in their 20s can translate to tens of thousands of extra dollars down the line for the younger generation of women. That’s especially important given the persistent savings gap between men and women, especially when it comes to retirement: one recent survey from Gold IRA Guide found that 49% of women have less than $25,000 put away for retirement, compared to 36% of men.

According to Fidelity, 36% of older women said they regret waiting too long to begin saving for retirement. But remember: even if you didn't open your first brokerage account at 21, it’s never too late to start investing in stocks.

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