Broker-dealer Public.com says that retail investors are changing their strategies after a wild last few years for the market, during which millions of investors made their first trade—and many first weathered the rocky ups and downs of the market.
Research from Public.com shows that COVID darlings such as growth stocks, commodities, and ‘inflation protection’ macros have fallen out of fervor with the retail crowd. In their stead, investors are now leaning into trendy new themes such as artificial intelligence and renewable energy, along with surer picks like dividend stocks, total market indexes, and treasuries.
“You obviously had the meme movement and the single stock strategies,” said Katie Perry, the general manager of B2B at Public. “And then the volatility hit and then people were like ‘Oh my god,’ [which] meant a lot of hard lessons, but good lessons learned.”
Perry added that interest in meme names like AMC Entertainment and small caps had by no means subsided, but that retail investors are increasingly considering safer picks. “It’s just showing that there’s a lot of layers to retail investors.”
At the same time, Public’s data showed that investors had shunned ETFs and strategies which put an emphasis on companies which have high environmental and social governance (ESG) scores. ESG has become a lightning rod in the culture war, in large part because of ESG funds’ higher costs and the often-perplexing way in which companies are scored.
Equity Animal CEO Mark Moran noted that tobacco company Phillip Morris was scored higher than electric vehicle company Tesla on some ESG metrics, something he described as “virtue signaling” in the latest episode of This Week In Money.
“There’s like a branding thing,” said Public.com’s Perry. “We notice people still going into renewables and ESG-type things, but with the label on it, there’s this whole thing now.”