When Wall Street veterans gathered this week in Washington for the Security Traders Association annual conference. 

The focus was on emerging issues from “meme stocks,” to cryptocurrencies and free trading apps, signaled a new era for the world of finance.

This year’s gathering followed an extraordinary few months in which millions of young retail traders convening in online forums and trading through low-cost mobile apps have frequently piled into “meme stocks” – most notably video retailer GameStop in January.

The volatility of that episode was a common theme throughout the conference.

Several prominent figures spoke about how their kids had been drawn into the market after retail brokers like Charles Schwab Corp and Fidelity followed Robinhood Markets’ and dropped commissions.

At the end of last quarter Robinhood said it had 21.3 million active users, with an average age of 31.

Of those, half were first-time investors.

The company is also trying to recruit new users on college campuses, offering $15 to start investing and the chance to win $20,000 towards tuition.

Republican lawmaker Bill Huizenga, who has five kids, aged 15 to 24 said: “I’m thrilled that my kids are even talking about trying to invest and save and look towards the future.

“I would think we should be encouraging that.” 



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