Home Business Insights & Advice Popularity of stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies in the UK

Popularity of stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies in the UK

by Sarah Dunsby
27th Sep 23 3:18 pm

Driven by digital technologies and the global interconnection of markets, various investment avenues have gained ground, stocks, forex (foreign exchange), and cryptocurrency being three prominent options — but which of them has proven more popular as of 2023?

Stocks: An investment reputable in history

Stocks have long been an asset class of choice in UK residents’ investment portfolios, as evidenced by the London Stock Exchange, one of the oldest exchanges worldwide.

Forex market: Largest financial marketplace

The foreign exchange market is the global arena where trading forex occurs. Notably, this financial market boasts daily trade volumes surpassing $6 Trillion. Trading forex has come to mean speculation on currency pairs; the UK, one of the major financial hubs, has an array of forex brokers catering to retail and institutional traders. While forex trading provides immense potential rewards, its high leverage may increase profits and losses quickly — meaning traders need an effective risk management plan to mitigate them effectively.

Cryptocurrencies are the new frontier

Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm since Bitcoin’s introduction in 2008. According to finder.com reports, ownership rates of digital assets like Ethereum, Dogecoin and Binance Coin have seen tremendous increases since 2008. The current prediction is that cryptocurrency market revenue in the UK could hit an astonishing US$1.89 billion by 2023, suggesting cryptocurrencies are no mere passing trend but have established themselves within the wider financial ecosystem. However, cryptocurrency investments must not be undertaken lightly due to their highly unpredictable nature and associated high risks. While cryptocurrencies offer unparalleled returns, the risks involved are equally as significant. Furthermore, the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies is still evolving, which adds yet another level of complexity for potential investors.

Forex is an epic market

The Foreign Exchange market, commonly referred to as FX or forex, has experienced extraordinary growth over recent years. To put things into context, the total value of the forex industry reached $2.73 quadrillion by 2023, up from just $1.93 quadrillion back in 2019. This growth extends not just in value terms but also daily turnover figures: in April 2022 alone, forex markets saw daily turnover reach $7.5 trillion per day — an impressive jump compared to 2019’s daily turnover total of just under $6 trillion per day. To indicate its enormity, consider that the forex market is approximately 30 times larger than the combined US stock and bond markets.

Stock market analysis in the UK

While the forex market boasts its vast size, the UK stock market can also boast of remarkable expansion. By 2023, nearly 42% of British citizens were invested in stocks & shares ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts), up from just 36% two years earlier (and from just 2.46 million people subscribed in 2019). The forex market may boast of its vast size, but the UK stock market has its distinct tale of resilience & development that it also deserves recognition for. As 2023 approached, approximately 42% were invested, which marked an increase from 36% in 2021 (versus 36% prior). Furthermore, stocks ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) also saw substantial increases, with approximately 3.5 million subscribers, from just two million subscribers two years prior. ISA subscription rates had increased accordingly, with approximately five million subscribers by 2023, compared with just two million subscribers prior.

Younger generations seem more invested in equities. A whopping 60% of Gen Z claim they’ve invested before; 54% have followed closely behind; only around 37% of baby boomers venture into stocks.

However, it should be noted that companies listed on the FTSE 100 index of UK blue-chip stocks experienced some difficulties during the first half of 2023 for various reasons — it illustrates their cyclical nature and diversification as a key aspect of an investment portfolio.

Cryptocurrencies are the gold mines of tomorrow

Cryptocurrencies have caught on rapidly around the globe. Notably, their rise has reached UK residents; as previously stated, there has been an upswing in ownership from UK residents of various cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. However, other digital assets like Ethereum or Dogecoin are making waves, too. Revenue projections for the UK cryptocurrency market only highlight its rapid expansion. With projected annual sales projections estimated at US$1.89 billion by 2023 and steady annual increases, cryptocurrency is here to stay, but potential investors should proceed cautiously due to their notorious volatility.

Predictions for the UK market

In the first half of 2023, the UK stock market, represented by its benchmark index FTSE 100 index, experienced difficulties. Collective performance among companies within it faltered significantly. At the same time, other major global markets outpaced it — suggesting that while Britain still maintains a significant presence globally, headwinds may have reduced performance relative to others in its sector. Multiple factors could be at play here; external geopolitical tensions, domestic economic challenges and investor sentiment changes all could play a part in shaping stock market performance. Furthermore, Brexit’s effect on trade agreements may also play a part.

Forex markets in 2023: Sterling’s struggle

2023 has seen dramatic movements among major currency pairs on the forex market. Notable among them has been the British Pound Sterling (GBP), which experienced its lowest level against the US Dollar (USD) since 1985 due to a variety of economic and geopolitical considerations. Inflation rates have seen an alarming 11.1% spike in the UK over the last twelve months. Such high inflation can erode purchasing power and pose economic challenges that force changes to monetary policy; as a response, the Bank of England might tighten measures to stabilise the economy and restore investor trust.

Cryptocurrencies are on a steep rise

Cryptocurrencies have continued to surge into the UK financial landscape. Their decentralised nature, high returns potential, and widespread mainstream acceptance have contributed to their meteoric rise. However, as previously discussed, cryptocurrency markets can be notorious for their volatile nature. There are regulatory changes, technological advancements or market sentiment that can result in sudden price fluctuation, which often proves disruptive to investments.

Shutterstock Newscom / Avalon

Diversification as the key to navigating uncertainty

Given the varied performances of UK stock and forex markets and cryptocurrency volatility, diversification should become an invaluable strategy for investors. By spreading investments across asset classes and geographic regions, diversifying investments allows you to mitigate risks while tapping into growth opportunities more effectively.

Looking ahead: Staying informed and adjusting to change

Staying informed and adaptable are crucial for investors; whether that means revising investment strategies, rebalancing portfolios or exploring alternative investment avenues, taking proactive decisions is often critical in making positive progress towards goals.

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