Young investors look to family and friends when making financial decisions and are far more likely to own cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are most likely to be held by people aged 18-34

Jon Ihle

Under-35s are nearly as likely to rely on friends and family for investment advice as they are to consult a broker or financial adviser, and twice as likely to own cryptocurrency as other age groups.

A new survey by the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) found that nearly a third of people in the younger age cohort used informal sources to help steer their money management.

That proportion was nearly as high as those who would go to an adviser or an investment firm, at 38pc and 35pc respectively. Almost a quarter used social media for guidance.

By contrast, people over the age of 55 were half as likely to consult their acquaintances for financial wisdom as the younger generation, and barely went online for money advice at all.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, cryptocurrencies are most likely to be held by people aged 18-34, with 16pc in that group owning the digital assets. Across the survey population, just 8pc had any crypto investments.

The results reveal a stark generational divide that mirrors relative wealth distribution between the generations and also reveals the impact fintech is having on younger adults.

“Today’s survey results point to generational differences in investment behaviour among consumers in Ireland,” said BPFI chief executive Brian Hayes.

“As investment options continue to diversify it is important to make informed decisions, understand the product and monitor its progress. In the digital era, there are multiple sources of advice and information which can be helpful, but consumers should consider balancing this with professional advice.”

The survey, which was carried out by research firm Amárach, will be cause for concern at the Central Bank, where regulators have been grappling with how to regulate the fast-growing cryptocurrency industry.

Governor Gabriel Makhlouf, a vocal sceptic of unbacked digital blockchain assets like bitcoin, has pledged to crack down on irresponsible marketing of crypto, especially through social media influencers.

He has vowed, in concert with the European Parliament and European Central Bank, to hold crypto firms to the same standards of governance, risk management and customer protection as other finance businesses.

Notwithstanding their embrace of novel assets in the digital world, young investors still characterise themselves as cautious in their financial decision making.

The BPFI found that nearly four in five people across all age groups said they were either conservative or very conservative.