Despite all of the noise about online trading, a new Alliance Capital/Harris poll found only 4% of adults actually trade stocks or mutual funds on the Internet.
Those online traders are most commonly young and male. And the richer and better educated they are, the more likely they'll do their investing electronically, according to the results of Alliance Capital's Financial Preparedness Study, which polled 1,010 adults in May.
The study's authors point out only 45% of respondents consider the Internet to be a reliable source of investment information. Seventy percent of respondents between 18 and 29 years old think Internet information about investments is reliable. Only 34% of those between 50 and 64 years old share that belief.
In general, people still are leery of the security and reliability of Internet trading. The mean individual trade respondents said they'd make without an adviser's help is $4,500. Men are somewhat bolder: They said they would trade up to $6,800 on their own; women said they'd only make solo online trades up to $1,900.
Older people control a larger portion of investible assets and feel much more confident about their investment abilities, the study found. Only 50% of those between 50 and 64 years old expect to need investment advice in the future, but 70% of those between 18 and 29 years think they will seek out a financial adviser. Overall, 57% of those surveyed expect to consult a financial adviser in the future.