Acorns Grow Inc. has become the latest online investing app — aimed at helping retail investors plan and save their spare change for long-term retirement goals — to announce plans to allow users to trade individual stocks.
Customers will be able to buy and sell single equities or build customized portfolios, rather than using only Acorns’ default exchange-traded funds, and they won’t be charged a commission on the trades. While free trading was long the purview of Robinhood Markets Inc., Acorns will join what has become a crowded marketplace for free trading apps in recent years, including such well-known names as Ameritrade Inc., ETrade Financial Corp. and Fidelity Investment Co.
Acorns first announced plans for individual stock trades in October with the hiring of its first chief investment officer, Seth Wunder, with the goal of adding customized portfolios, individual stock trades and crypto. In an interview with InvestmentNews at the time, CEO Noah Kerner said that might even evolve into full-blown financial advice.
“Our customers are growing money in small amounts for the long run,” he said. “Our vision definitely is getting into more holistic money management for the individual and the family, so nothing’s off the table. Automated advice is great, but sometimes people need an actual live contact.”
Bloomberg News first confirmed the launch Thursday.
While investing in single stocks can involve more volatility, the company said the feature lets customers stay diversified but also allows them to participate in individual trading, and could eventually support cryptocurrency and other investments.
Acorns plans to recommend that users invest 90% of their money in the Acorns offerings and 10% in stocks, according to images of the product shared with InvestmentNews.
The new feature, called Customizable Portfolios, is designed to drive user engagement on the platform, Kerner said.
He also said his firm is developing a portal to educate investors about diversification. “I always stress that education is such an important part about what Acorns provides,” Kerner told Bloomberg.
Acorns, already backed by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and asset management giant BlackRock Inc., announced plans in May to go public in the second half of 2022 via a merger with a blank-check company, which could value the company at $2.2 billion.
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