Consob: italians seduced by online trading and cryptocurrencies but with poor skills

The VII Report on the investment choices of households has been published. The pandemic drives the use of the Internet for financial investments. But the president Paolo Savona warns: "Little knowledge, weak technological skills"

11 Jan 2022

L. O.

The interest of Italians towards online trading, crypto-assets and stock markets is growing. And about 28% use online financial services more than they did before the pandemic. But digital skills still remain stuck at 44%. It emerges from the VII Consob Report on the investment choices of Italian families, according to which the crisis has affected the ability of families to set aside resources: 27% had a decline in family income, 39% struggled to cope with expenses and 28% are unable to manage an unexpected expense of 1,000 euros.

Index of topics

• Still low digital skills

• Financial skills are on the rise

• How digital competence is measured

• Online financial services

• Propensity for sustainable investments

Still low digital skills

In light of the current economic context, more than 36% of respondents do not know how to use their funds, according to the data of the Consob Observatory contained in the Report, collected in June 2021 on the basis of a questionnaire drawn up by the Commission and administered by GfK Italia to a sample of about 2,700 individuals, representative of the population of Italian financial decision makers.

With regard to the use of digital technology, participation in web communities related to finance and investments is still marginal: only 6% of investors say they are members of financial web communities. The interest in participating in a financial community, expressed by 16% of investors, is negatively associated with the level of financial knowledge and is expressed more frequently by the most financially vulnerable individuals.

"With the asymmetries of information - said the president of Consob Paolo Savona - that are determined on the financial market following the change in monetary policies, increasingly invasive, and the spread of cryptocurrencies, achieving the Consob objective becomes increasingly difficult and above all the task that with this Report and other activities we are trying to tackle practically is to fight ignorance in financial matters ".

Financial skills are up

Overall, the level of financial knowledge is slightly up: in 2021 the knowledge indicators increased by 3 percentage points compared to 2019. Participation in the financial markets also continues to grow but the 'new' investors more frequently have a level of financial literacy and lower digital skills than those of longer-time investors.

How digital competence is measured

In particular, the interviewees recognize a "at least good" level of capacity in the use of the network in 27% of cases in the non-investor subsample and in 42% of cases in the investor group.

A more detailed self-assessment of digital knowledge, referring to seven basic and advanced concepts, however, shows that the percentage of correct answers varies from 12% to 61%, averaging 44%. The share of financial decision-makers who declare that they are conducting adequate conduct for safe use of the network ranges from 48% with reference to the management of their personal data to 72% with respect to the use of antivirus, with a sample average of responses in line with the adequate behaviors around 61%.

57% of respondents are interested in increasing their digital skills, especially if certain conditions are met, such as the availability of easy-to-use technologies and free training initiatives. Such interest is more frequent among individuals who display higher knowledge and skills.

Financial services online

Among those who use the network in the context of economic and financial choices, about 28% report using online financial services more than they did before the pandemic; of these, almost all are willing to maintain the new habits also in the future, finding attractive, among other things, the greater accessibility and ease of use of the digital channel compared to the physical one. On the other hand, the respondents who do not intend to use the digital mode once the pandemic is over are above all those who believe they do not have enough skills (and who are generally not interested in acquiring them) and those who prefer 'face-to-face' interaction.

Knowledge of digitized services remains not widespread: in particular, the share of investors who claim to have at least heard of them fluctuates between 19% for automated advice (7% among non-investors) and 39% for crypto-currencies (18 % for non-investors).

Propensity for sustainable investments

Investors who entered the financial market in 2020 and 2021 have lower financial literacy and digital skills more frequently than older investors, while they are less inclined to financial planning and budget management and report more frequent conditions of financial fragility.

Investors who claim to have at least basic knowledge of sustainable investments are equal to 37% of the interviewees while those who declare themselves interested in this type of investment reach 73%, an increase compared to previous years; only 9% claim to own them.

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