A Year in Review and What’s Next For Robinhood
By Vlad Tenev, CEO and Co-Founder of Robinhood
2020 will be the year people talk about for generations to come. The world closed down, travel stopped, society was stretched to its bones, humans were isolated and many millions of people were impacted in terrible ways. It’s a year that we should learn from – and certainly never forget. But through it all, people made extraordinary gestures and came together, even when apart, in ways that could never have been predicted. They joined forces at scale to drive change for the good and supported each other every day in small ways that had a large impact.
I also think during the days and months of this year when we were locked down in our homes we all, in different ways, planned for our futures. We might have decided when the world opened up to travel more, to be closer to our community, to give back to those around us, or just to think about what we wanted to do next.
A year in review
At Robinhood, millions of people made those decisions to invest for the first time, to participate in an opportunity, to join the markets that they had never considered before. When you can’t grab a coffee down the street, it’s easy to decide to buy $5 of your favorite coffee brand’s stock. When you can’t have dinner with your best friend every week, it’s simple to put that 10 dollars into a recurring investment. That’s what our customers did.
We also know our customers participated thoughtfully. Contrary to the hand-wringing about the new investors who joined the markets in 2020, more than 3.2 million people read our educational articles through Learn, with daily visits up by 260 percent since January. And when things got tough and markets were volatile, Robinhood customers acted as a stabilizing force, according to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Moreover, the critics of this new generation of investors often come from backgrounds where they had easy access to a world our customers have been excluded from. Why wouldn’t they want everyone to benefit in the same ways they have?
Though we may not always agree, we listen intently to all our stakeholders. We haven’t always been perfect. We’ve learned some hard lessons and made changes to our operations to make sure we continue to improve – and fast. We’ve invested in supporting our customers to meet their expectations. We’ve also published our commitments to our customers so that everyone can see what they can expect from us. We’ve added tools and resources to help our customers thrive. We’ve shared transparently how we make money. And we’ve been grateful for all the support we’ve received. Today, we are recognizing all of this with our first Robinhood Recap. Customers will receive their very own snapshot of their investing life in 2020 – so they can see the progress they’ve made.
The job is not done
This year exacerbated what was already true about the American economy. There are really two Americas: one for the well-off, and one for everyone else. Nothing speaks more profoundly to this divide than the fact that 2020 was the year when the stock market soared higher than ever before, and was also the year when food lines grew longer than ever before. But in the face of stunning inequity and uncertainty, we’ve seen millions of investors take action.
Seven years since our founding, we are humbled to see, in the profiles of our customers, that the very people who had been shut out of investing have now finally found a home. The number of women on Robinhood has nearly tripled this year, and women today represent a higher percentage of our customer base than ever before. Across all brokerages, stock ownership is younger and more diverse than it was when Robinhood was founded.
But we know that barriers still exist, we know that many people still don’t know how to build for their future, we know they feel excluded and think investing is not for them. They think it’s insurmountable. That’s just wrong. Technology should enable everyone to be able to participate and to be able to take that first step.
Our commitment is to remove investment inequality
In 2021, everyone at Robinhood is committed to making these fears shrink. We’ll find more ways to help people learn. We’ll serve customers in new areas of their financial lives with products like cash management, which more than 1.5 million people already use. If you’re already well on your journey, we’ll provide the best information at your fingertips through our Gold subscription service. Or you can join the twenty million strong readers of Robinhood Snacks. Most importantly, we’ll continue to expand access to investing for our customers with products like fractional shares, which more than two million customers have used monthly over the past several months, including DRIP and recurring investments. Because we believe this new generation should not be shut out of their only viable method for potential long-term wealth creation.
At Robinhood, we think a missed opportunity is people failing to invest soon enough, or worse, never investing at all. And so we’ve dedicated ourselves to changing the equation. I’m proud of what our team has been able to deliver to our customers this year. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make investing more culturally relevant, so that we can attract more people into the markets and turn them into long-term investors. I’m proud to know that people who were shut out of the markets have been given easy entry and been delighted by what they learned. As we look forward to 2021, we’re all in on building on the important work we’ve already undertaken. There is much to be done to right the ship that is America. We’re committed to doing our part.