Magazine

Why Trading Crypto Isn’t as Sexy as You Think

By Sallie Krawcheck

Crypto,* right? You can’t read the financial pages without coming across something on the white-hot topic.

Or about the trading platform Robinhood. And people trading crypto on Robinhood. And the fact that 40% of Robinhood active women customers are crypto traders.

OK.

We’re all adults here, and it makes sense why crypto might have piqued your interest but let’s get a few things straight.

Let’s not confuse “trading” with “investing.”

When we talk about investing, we’re talking about buying a financial security, based on the underlying investment’s fundamentals, with the intention to hold that security for some meaningful period of time.

Why do we hold it? Because that’s what works in investing.

Had you invested in the stock market on any given day since the 1920s and held those stocks for 15 years, you had a 99.8% chance of positive return. (And if you had continued investing a bit out of every paycheck over those years, as Ellevest recommends, you would have had … well, I haven’t done the math, but it would have been 99.8%. In other words, investing is one of those few activities in life in which doing less has led to having more.

But, you may be saying, if no effort has historically led to a profit over time, won’t more effort lead to greater profit??

No. Here’s why:

1. Historically, more trading has meant higher fees (both the kind the trading firms tell you about, and the kind that make an appearance only in their fine print) and higher taxes.

2. Research shows that trading more often means more chances to make the wrong decision, sometimes because you’re trading based on your emotions.**

3. In essence, trading is you betting that all of the Wall Street traders, portfolio managers, and analysts — whose full-time jobs are analyzing and trading the markets, many of whom have been at it for decades and many of whom went to business school to prepare for it — are missing something that you see. It’s tough for even professional investors to gain this kind of edge. (Which is why very few active investors — just 0.1% of them, to be exact — manage to do it consistently over a five-year period.) Let me put it this way: Consistently making money by trading is nearly impossible for your brother-in-law Steve to do, regardless of what he says during your post-pandemic family barbecue.

There’s a reason why historically, women have outperformed men when they invest.

Mostly, it’s because women tend to trade less. The stock market has earned an average 9.8% return annually since the 1920s (with volatility and some losing years along the way, certainly), while the typical individual investor has earned just 1.5%.

Still want to trade crypto? As I said before, you’re free to do so. But please treat it like you’re sitting down at the blackjack table.

And remember that investing — the kind with an eye on the long term — is even more important for women because we earn less and live longer. And because women who've outsourced their money management to men find a negative surprise — 74% of the time — when that money comes back to them.

All of us know many people who have invested and saved their way to a comfortable retirement; few of us know any who have traded their way to one.


Sallie Krawcheck Signature

Cryptocurrency is a form of money that a) isn’t issued by a central authority, like a government, and b) uses cryptography — the practice of storing and transmitting data for secure communication. Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency, but definitely not the only one.

We’re also all for feeling all the feelings — but that doesn't mean they should control your financial decisions.

© 2021 Ellevest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

*Cryptocurrency is a form of money that a) isn’t issued by a central authority, like a government, and b) uses cryptography — the practice of storing and transmitting data for secure communication. Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency, but definitely not the only one.

**We’re also all for feeling all the feelings — but that doesn't mean they should control your financial decisions.

Information was obtained from third-party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness.

All opinions and views expressed by Ellevest are current as of the date of this writing, for informational purposes only, and do not constitute or imply an endorsement of any third party’s products or services.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest. Her life’s mission is to help women to reach their financial and professional goals.