Reddit investors have been the butt of many jokes over the last few years, but could these much-maligned meme traders have the last laugh?
A surprising new survey finds that 58% of institutional investors — the professionals who trade on behalf of banks and pension funds, the so-called “smart money” — admit to having made an investment decision based on information from Reddit.
Of those familiar with the popular, gossipy social media site, 46% of those polled expect to use the platform more in the next year and about 50% considered Reddit to be of “high importance” in stock evaluations, reported the Brunswick Group. Institutional investors also cited Twitter and TikTok as helpful platforms for investing research.
This radical shift in information-gathering comes as a pandemic-era influx of retail investors, day traders and outright amateurs revolutionizes the way Wall Street functions.
Retail investors are pouring a record $1.5 billion per day into the stock market, according to data from Vanda Research. Corporations are paying attention, and so are institutional investors. As Main Street traders’ gain sway over markets, it has become increasingly important for professional investors to keep abreast of what they’re up to.
“Institutional investors are encroaching on traditionally retail-oriented online spaces,” wrote analysts at Brunswick. “This increased interest in retail investors could be a consequence of the financial fallout from popular ‘meme stocks’ like GameStop, AMC, and Bed Bath & Beyond as institutional investors look for ways to keep their pulse on the conversation among retail investors.”
The overlap between institutional and retail investors isn’t limited to Reddit and social media. Robinhood Snacks was ranked as the most-subscribed-to newsletter by the institutional investors interviewed.
Brunswick has conducted its annual survey on the digital habits of institutional investors for over a decade. This year, it polled 257 institutional investors across North America, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Retail investors amass funds, and power
Retail investors now account for half of all wealth globally, according to a recent report by Bain & Company. That surge in power has led companies to structure investment products that attract these individuals, accelerating the convergence between the retail and institutional worlds.
At the same time, retail investors have become more savvy and are conducting research of their own. About 63% of retail investors spent more time researching stocks in February than they did during the same month last year, according to research by investing platform Public.
Institutional investors, meanwhile, appear to be embracing the meme world. Hedge funds recently disclosed in filings that they had increased their holdings of GameStop by about 15% over the last quarter.