Investment statistics

How many Brits are investing in stocks and shares?

Updated . What changed?

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All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Capital is at risk.
Investing in stocks and shares may seem very “wolf of wall street”, and the idea of starting off can be scary – how do you go around such a complicated topic? And how do you make sure you don’t risk too much while still making a reasonable profit? However, the number of people who’s decided to give it a go is not as low as you may think: in fact, did you know over 2 million Brits have money invested in stocks and shares? Many of them use stock trading apps. We analysed all the latest investment statistics to give you the low-down.

Quick overview

  • The total value of all stocks traded in the world is $68.212 trillion
  • The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has a market capitalisation of $3.76 trillion
  • 12.4% of UK shares are owned by individuals
  • 73% of men are considering investing, while only 61% of women are.
  • 2.2 million people in the UK were subscribed to a Stocks & Shares ISA account in 2019
  • Of those with Stocks & Shares ISAs, only 43.5% are women

Who owns UK shares?

Shares in the UK are traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). These shares are available to buy by any individual or company around the world, so who owns the most?

  • 12.4% of UK shares are owned by individuals
  • The majority of shares are owned by people or businesses overseas, at 53.7%
Owner Percent
Banks 1.40%
Charities, church, etc 1.10%
Individuals 12.40%
Insurance companies 5.90%
Investment trusts 1.80%
Other financial institutions 7.10%
Pension funds 3.00%
Private non-financial corporations 2%
Public sector 3%
Rest of the world 53.70%
Unit trusts 9.10%

Who is and who isn’t buying stocks and shares?

The risky world of stocks and shares isn’t for everyone, so who is and who isn’t buying shares in the UK?

  • 2.2 million people in the UK were subscribed to a stocks & shares ISA account in 2019
  • 33% of Brits owns shares
  • Only 43.5% of these ISAs were held by women (957,000)
  • While 56.5% of Stocks and Shares ISAs are held by men (1.25 million)
  • The average Stocks & Shares ISA account is worth £27,000
  • Men have slightly more money in their Stocks & Shares ISAs at £29,500 compared to £25,800 for women

Coronavirus and investing

After COVID-19 hit the world and made most of us housebound, many people used their time to invest, or at least consider it. The results from a Finder survey made in May 2020 revealed that 20% thought it was a good time to invest during the pandemic, while equally as many thought to wait a bit longer.

Opinion Percent
No change in opinion 46.70%
Already own shares 33.40%
More likely to invest 20.40%
Less likely to invest 19.55%

The most popular reason for investing overall was due to the fact that savings accounts have poor interest rates (55%), and 22% found it’s a good time to get involved with investing while many companies aren’t doing too well. 33% are intrigued by companies who do well, as they would be more likely to invest if they saw one doing well.

Reason to invest Percent
I think interest rates in savings accounts are poor 54.90%
I want to earn dividend income 51.38%
I would invest if I see a company is doing well 33.43%
Easy access to investing platforms 28.87%
I want to invest in ethical companies 27.30%
I would invest if I see a company isn't doing well 22.21%
More people appear to be investing now, and I want to get involved 16.68%

Why aren’t women investing in shares?

What is causing fewer women to invest than men in the UK? Research from Scottish Friendly suggests that 2.6 million women have been put off investing by the number of funds available to them.

  • 43% of women say they haven’t invested because there are too many funds to choose from.
  • 70% say getting back their original investment is more important than achieving big financial gains.
  • Of those women surveyed, 40% were unaware you could save in more than one type of ISA in the same tax year.

UK Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the amount of money British individuals or businesses have invested in other countries. So how much money has been invested by the UK and into the UK?

  • Inward FDI fell from £192 billion in 2016 to £92.4 billion in 2017
  • Japan accounted for the most FDI into the UK, contributing £27.1 billion (29%)
  • Outward FDI totalled £91.4 billion in 2017, the highest amount since 2008
  • The overwhelming majority of this outward FDI was into the USA (£88.5 billion)

Sources used

  • Stock Market Clock
  • House of Commons Library
  • World Bank
  • Scottish Friendly

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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